The Walking Dead - A Review... Sort Of
Preface- Hey readers, I wanted to preface this piece by explaining the title. I have been playing Telltale's The Walking Dead. I have played it to the point where I want to write a review. The tricky thing is the game is episodic. As of this writing there are only two of the five episodes released. So at first I though I'd treat each episode as it's own game. But then it seemed like the game is really a whole all together. Although the episodes are all directed by different members of the team at Telltale, they all seem to (so far) follow the game group of survivors. So I'm going to start by giving my impression of each episode and then once they are all out I'll give a final score and verdict.
The Walking Dead seems to be springing up everywhere now a days. The once small comic has now spawned a popular AMC TV show, grown to over 100 issues, and now has a video game. Telltale, the guys behind Sam and Max, Jurasic Park, and Back to the Future, are the ones at the helm of The Walking Dead Videogame. The full game consists of five episodes, all telling different stories from a survivors perspective. You take on the role of Lee Everet, in the first few days of the zombie apocalypse. The game is mostly an interactive movie or show. Scenes play out and you make decisions on what Lee says and does. When the story is not unfolding scene by scene the game backs off and gives you a bit more control. Part way into episode one you end up at a drug store, where you are given free roam to pick up energy bars and have what ever conversation you would like. This is where you remember that you're playing a game.
Besides when your in the linear adventure, the game really lets you do what you want. Some times you need to talk to a few people to find out how to progress, but besides that you don't really need to make too much conversation if you don't want to. Your also allowed to tackle the problems at hand anyway you choose. You eventually need an ax to break a lock, but you can do all the reconnesense work up to that point without the ax. Or if you branch down the path that rewards you with an ax first when you get to the lock you can just procced on with your mission.
The other draw to the game is that your conversations really mean something. You can play the game two ways, with a lot of HUD elements or without. When you play without your forced to guess what people are thinking, but it also gives you the struggle of finding things in your environment on your own. With HUD elements on it tells you each time a npc has a thought about what you just said. This play style also blatantly points out what objects in your surroundings can be interacted with. I first played without the HUD elements, I wanted to really experience the story and immerse myself in the game. My second time through I turned them on not only to see the difference in gameplay, but to see how my different choices were effecting people.
I had a few gripes with the game, but nothing major so far. I'd say the polish on the game isn't what I'm used to. It's a little rough around the edges. Some of the dialong doesn't match up. I'll correct someone about a little girl not being my daughter and right afterwards they will think she is my daughter still. Also the puzzle solving could be a bit more intuitive. Not that it was very hard, but I got hung up on one part and had no clue what to do. A little hint system would be nice after being stuck after so long, or failing a mission too many times. Also once you make a decision you're forced to see it played out. Try breaking a window for the second time and your forced to watch the same guy mention how bad of an idea it is. A simple double tap to skip would be nice.
Overall I'm enjoying the game. The first episode is just the beginning, the hard part is waiting for the rest. I have already played part two, and I'll let you all in on how I'm enjoying that soon, but if you have a machine that will play the games I recomend it so far. The game is only five bucks so it's a great value propesition. Although it's short, it's like your favorite movie, you can watch it multiple times. The best part about The Walking Dead is that each time you watch it you can change it.