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Team Review: The Walking Dead
Welcome to Leviathyn’s first Team Review! Instead of offering you just one perspective on a game and throwing a score on it, we give you multiple views from people who may or may not like the series, genre, or any other aspect. In the case of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, we offer three views. One from someone who has seen the tv show and watches it weekly. Another from someone who watched a couple episodes but couldn’t get into it. Finally, a third view from someone who has never watched the TV show at all. Sorry true believers, we haven’t read the comic series, either. Sad, I know.
Perspective: Watches the show regularly
System: Xbox 360
I wasn’t expecting much from The Walking Dead. Being a TV tie-in game was foreboding enough, but being a downloadable TV tie-in game was a bit more unsettling. However, the Telltale Games pedigree was enough to pique my curiosity and I took the plunge.
What I got was one of the coolest takes on a point-and-click adventure I’ve ever played. Walking Dead made me feel like I was back in the days of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, only this time the game was much more complex. It threw choices at me, sometimes impossible ones, and forced me to quickly pick. I had to choose between saving a child or an adult from the Walkers. Every response I chose during a discussion would be remembered, and the game would tell me how. I felt pressure whenever a choice was needed, a feeling most games can’t accomplish. All of this from a downloadable TV tie-in that I had little faith in initially.
All I can say is I’m sad that this was only Episode One. I need the rest of the game, and fast.
Perspective: Watched a bit but couldn’t get into it
System: Xbox 360
Unique from other zombie apocalypse titles on the market, Dead created a uniquely realistic and tense perspective on how tings really would be on doomsday. No one really knows what’s going on, how bad it is, what’s caused it, or what they’re going to do. Times are desperate, and the world outside is a living hell. The main character, Lee Everett, is not a zombie-smashing bad ass. He’s a normal human being and he’s terrified, and his actions are justified by the mess of a situation he’s been thrown into.
Story is the heart of The Walking Dead’s gameplay. All dialogue options, choices, and actions taken not only affect your character, but also what the NPCs think of you, and how the story ultimately plays out. Several difficult decisions throughout the game force one to consider the darker sides of mercy and justice, even going so far as to face the main character with having to make key choices about his own family. Notes in the corner of the screen such as “Clementine will remember that”, and “Herschel doesn’t trust you” serve to make you very aware of how serious each of your decisions are and how they’re weighed throughout the game. The pressure of a shrinking time meter during dialogue selection adds a realistic sense tension to a situation as you try to consider your options in a matter of seconds, making the tough decisions that one faces throughout the game even more real. There’s no time to think when someone is being dragged out the window by a horde of the undead; at that point, you have to act quickly, and the game does a great job of illustrating this.
Essentially a point-and-click adventure game, Dead’s gameplay focuses heavily on exploration and interacting with NPCs, along with the occasional quick time event during a faceoff with a zombie. Dialogue options are assigned to face buttons, the left analog stick is used to move the character around the environment, and interactions and the camera are both controlled by a cursor mapped to the right analog stick. Different actions can be taken with characters and objects, be it converse with someone or hand them an energy bar. Aside from the occasional frame rate hiccup and some choppy animation sequences, the game runs smoothly, coupled with great voiceover work, music, and a neat comic-style art design that work well together to deliver an engrossing and eerie cinematic experience that could almost be described as more of an interactive television show than a video game.
Perspective: Never watched the show
System: PC (Steam)
I haven’t played a game like this in a long time. I used to get real into Monkey Island and games like that. I believe the last one I really tried was Strong Bad’s. I was a bit reluctant to try out The Walking Dead as I felt I sort of, for lack of a better term, “graduated” from that genre and got into more action-oriented genres. I’m glad I did play this, though. The Walking Dead’s point and click adventure is one of the best I have ever played. What it does so well is get you feel for the characters. Everyone works off of each other like a perfectly cast movie or TV show.
Another great feeling that The Walking Dead does so great is realism. Sure, the graphics and scenario may work against my case but the way the characters act and do things feel real. This isn’t a “grab your pitchfork and kick some zombie ass” game. No, this is a “holy *@#& what is going on, what are we going to do?” game and you feel that. Every decision makes the characters around you feel differently towards you and that is very important. Why would they keep someone around if you can’t be trusted? There is importance to talking to people and doing things that may or may not help others and yourself survive. You have to do your best for everyone.
Episode 1 ends after a few hours and I found myself saying, “it’s over? c’mon!” I want Episode 2 right now. I really got sucked into it and had to check Steam to see if I had only played for an hour because it felt so fast. Good things never last. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eye out for Episode 2 and so forth. I can’t say I’ll be pining for the TV show or comic series but for the game and the continued survival of Lee Everett and Clementine, I am thoroughly invested.