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The Walking Dead, A New Take On Interactive Media?

SPOILERS: Minor spoilers concerning game mechanics and plot dynamics.

With more and more games these days having a direct focus on player choices and the like, is it no surprise that The Walking Dead emphasizes the very same elements?

I’ve had the opportunity to play a large number of games in my life but none as gripping as TellTale’s Walking Dead series. I recently started playing episode 1 and found myself entrenched in it’s intense narrative. The developers of the title spared no expense in delivering a product that ensures a full, complete single-player experience.

For one, the title could have lent itself heavily to the hack-and-slash action game genre with a plot that can be remotely related to the existence of zombies. For instance, it seems as though every time the word ‘zombie’ can be hinted at when describing the plot of  a video game to your chums the words ‘post-apocalyptic’ trail shortly afterwards which are then followed by the word ‘hack’ and ‘slash’ respectively. This is a trend that has gained much popularity in the world of interactive media, however, TellTale may indeed have broken the mold.

Sure, the game play can attribute much of its emphasis on ‘fun’ with the existence of weapons that are found in most action titles, though even in the title’s most quiet moments, there seems to be a level of connection that most video games do not employ or even encourage. For example, in the initial scenes of the game, players will find themselves selecting conversation options for a character they know nothing about (provided they aren’t big fans of the comic book series), however, 2 hours into the experience can lead any hardened gamer down the intense roller coaster that TellTale has forged. Furthermore, a great deal of emphasis is placed on characterization and choice-making that, less often than not, lead to one of the aforementioned characters’ deaths.

Yes, you will have the choice to kill some of your compadres in the heat of conflict between (who would have thought) humans and zombies.

It is no surprise that the title has experienced such critical acclaim since the release of its first episode and why fans have been clamoring for the third installment in the season scheduled to be released in August.There is no doubt in my mind that the third, fourth, or even fifth episode in the season will not diminish the quality seen in the title’s original episodes, though it can lead one to question whether Telltale knew exactly what they were doing when the decided to develop the epic. I think they did.

For one, they chose to make a series of titles that have the same name of a popular  comic book and television series. There are obvious parallels to the television series however, the writers of the video game included a large degree of fan service for the most devout consumers of the comic. It can be noted that on a number of instances, fans of the television series, like myself, may indeed prefer the comic book adaptation on similar events to the ones depicted on the silver screen.

Whatever your preference, the legitimate presence of ‘fun’ in TellTale’s adaptation of the Walking Dead series cannot be denied. From the opening scene to the end of episode 2 (which as of now is the most recent release) I am still hungry for more. I want to know what my decisions in the first episode will eventually lead to in the rest of the series. I found myself shaking my head at the repercussions that some of my actions brought forth into the fold and, inversely, ecstatic at the mere mention of gratitude from one of my faithful companions (they won’t all be faithful – darn you Kenny!).

It is a short, incredibly satisfying experience that deserves the eyes and ears of every gamer to at least take a gander at (yes, I said ‘gander’). Fans of the television and comic book series alike will find their favorite characters brought to life in a form of entertainment that is gaining speed in society today. So much speed, in fact, that the mere fact that I haven’t stopped writing up this article and begun playing another game is a travesty in and of itself – the word ‘travesty’ being used here jokingly, of course.

If there is one thing that you should take away from this article it is that TellTale’s Walking Dead is ‘boss’ – with the most literal definition of the word.

 



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