I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead as it appears in comics and on my television. When TellTale Games announced they were making a Walking Dead video game, I was ecstatic. Only the reception of their last game, Jurassic Park, made me a little nervous. Let me be the first to say, there was nothing to be concerned about.
The game takes familiar concepts of previous point and click adventure games and offers up a more dynamic and frantic feel. Much like the comic book and television show, The Walking Dead is not about killing zombies. The game is more focused on survival and interactions with other survivors. You will be doing a lot more talking than smashing brains in with a hammer, although that will come up on occasion.
You play as Lee Everett, en ex-University of Georgia professor that had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a prison outside of Atlanta. The police car transporting him crashes into a “Walker” and wrecks off the road. Lee wakes up hours later to a world now filled with infected walking dead and horrified survivors.
The first episode has Lee discovering the zombie apocalypse that has plagued Georgia and, possibly, the entire country. He meets a young girl by the name of Clementine and decides to take care of her while on his way to his hometown of Macon. Along the way, Lee will run into familiar faces from the comic series and will have to make some very difficult decisions that could determine how the other episodes play out.
Big decisions that can have an ally dying or surviving, communicating with other survivors and the occasional zombie attack all help set the stage for the end of the world. Everything you do in the game will effect how others see you and, ultimately, if they will trust you or not. The game will even tell you how your actions might affect those around you. If you lie about your origins to someone, and they find out about it, the game will give you small hints like, “This person will remember that you lied to them.” The design is really smart, making note of your decisions so they can come back to haunt you. It’s much like Mass Effect and Dragon Age with regard to the dialog choices you have to make. Unlike those games, though, The Walking Dead gives you a timer for responses and actions. You have to be quick on your feet when it comes to making quick decisions. After all, zombies don’t wait for you to make up your mind.
The action in the game, while somewhat slow, is still very frantic. A simple positioning of the cursor and a button press is all you need, but the game still makes it a point to be brutal and nerve wracking at the same time. When I had to stab a zombie’s skull with a screwdriver, I found myself gritting my teeth along with Lee.
The overall presentation is outstanding. The sound design and music are very well done, and the visuals have a cel-shaded style to them. There are a lot of hard black outlines on all the characters, giving a comic book feel to the entire experience. The facial expressions are some of the best I’ve seen in a TellTale game. You can tell a lot of work has gone into making this game. The voice acting is fantastic as well.
This episode took me about 2 hours to complete. There was a small time, about halfway through the episode, where I got stuck for approximately 10 minutes. There is no hint system like there was in Back to the Future, but after exploring a little more of the area, I was able to figure it out. Even at two hours, the game still has replay value. There are around six major choices you have to make throughout the episode that drastically change what may happen, so going back and trying different options is something I really wanted to do.
All in all, the first episode of The Walking Dead was a fantastic experience. The fact that I live in Georgia and know exactly where all this takes place is a big bonus to me. The story telling is wonderful, and the action sequences, while simple and few in number, will keep the player at the edge of their seat the entire time. The star of the game is the character interactions and the way the game handles your relationships with other people. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead in any way, you need to pick this game up. Fans of a good narrative should look into this game, as well. Let’s just say, I can’t wait for the next episode.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.