The Walking Dead: The Game Review
The Walking Dead has become quite the hit franchise lately. With a popular series of graphic novels, a hit TV series and with the zombie phenomenon at it’s peak; it only made sense for a video game adaptation to hit digital store shelves. Did Telltale Games create a game that was deserving of the Walking Dead name? Or is it a similar experience to their previous efforts with Jurassic Park where the name couldn’t quite carry the game?
Read our full The Walking Dead: The Game review after the break.
In the The Walking Dead you play as Lee Everett, a former history teacher on his way to prison when all hell breaks lose. As Lee, you’re caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse; only this time the story and the characters actually have substance. It’s less about fighting the zombies compared to other games, it’s more about building trusting relationships with other characters within the chaos, death, and destruction of a zombie apocalypse. Without giving away any spoilers, you make your way through Georgia, meeting other survivors and getting in-and-out of tension-filled situations. Each of the characters you meet are well-developed and act like real people facing extraordinary circumstances. Traditional good and bad alignments gets tossed out the window and it’s up to the player to make decisions based on their chances of survival.
As if surviving by yourself wasn’t hard enough, the stakes are raised when you run across a little girl named Clementine. Clementine is alone, scared, and searching for her parents; and it’s up to you to keep her safe not just from the walkers but from unspeakable evil desperate humans can be capable of doing. It’s an interesting dynamic, and one that changed my play style. I usually prefer to play the evil role in games; but the bond I built with Clementine directly affected my decisions – based off of what I wanted this little girl to be exposed to. It’s one of the prime examples of how the expert storytellers at Telltale Games evoke real emotions from the player.
Every decision you make – be it big or small – has some sort of ripple effect throughout the course of the game, whether it’s immediate or in later chapters. What’s also quite interesting is that each of your fellow survivors will remember your every decision and consequences of each decision aren’t always clear either. You might make a choice with nothing but good intentions, only for it to totally backfire in your face; leaving you screaming bloody murder at your TV. You’ll feel like you’re in control of a situation, yet like in real life, things can go wrong even when you employ what was seemingly a simple solution. And guess what? There’s nothing you can do about it, and that’s exactly the point.
The Walking Dead plays like previous Telltale adventure games. You move a cursor around as you walk about the area; clicking on different items and locations on the screen while attempting to solve simple puzzles that may aid in your survival and progress the story. Unlike other point-and-click games though, conversations are time sensitive and drives home that sense of urgency of the situation and of each of your decisions; not selecting anything also wields its own consequences.
The story itself can play out in a number of ways depending on your actions throughout the game. Your group of survivors – or lack there of – maybe totally different than other players by the fifth and final chapter. Upon completion of each chapter, the game shows you statistical graphs of what other players chose to do during their time with the chapter. This neat little extra really emphasizes how different it could have all turned out if you had just chosen to give food to that character instead of this character or siding with one over another.
On a technical note, The Walking Dead’s writing and voice acting deserve special praise, as they go a long way in making you care about these characters whether or not you actually like them. It’s obvious the writers and creators of the game cared just as much for the source material as the original creators did.
AUDIO – The voice acting is arguably the best part of the game in my opinion. Lee (David Fennoy) and Clementine (Melissa Hutchison) highlight some of the most amazing vocal performances this side of Metal Gear Solid and Mass Effect. The zombies moan and groan as you would expect, and i didn’t notice anything too off putting from the various sound effects employed throughout the game.
GRAPHICS – The semi-cell shaded comic book aesthetic they went with fits the game nicely. There are some hiccups here and there that can be attributed to the game compiling and loading all the decisions and branching path the player has taken so far. It would be nice if it were a seamless transition, but thankfully its not too jarring that it ruins the experience.
+ Strong emphasis on character development
+ Decisions carry emotional weight and affects how the story plays out
+ Solid voice acting throughout the entire cast
– Game Stutters while loading conversational options
– Fifth chapter feels a little rushed
No other game has ever made me feel something for the characters as much as The Walking Dead has. Without giving to much away; there was a scene that literally had my lips quivering. No tears were actually shed but it was damn close….and all i did was make a little girl cry…..and that says something about Telltale’s The Walking Dead that no review or opinion on this game could ever convey.
The Walking Dead’s greatest success is that it’s a game that pushes the player make their own decisions and makes him/her learn to live with the consequences; be they good or bad. The game successfully differentiates itself from other zombie-infested titles because it’s less about fending off flesh-eating cannibals, and instead is an analysis of human nature in the most dire of situations. Here’s hoping more games can accomplish this in the future.