Telltale Games continues on their episodic gaming adaptation of popular films and television titles, their latest featuring non other than current cult comic and television sensation, The Walking Dead. This series contains 5 episodes total and based from this “pilot”, could easily be their best work from all previously released projects. Players take the lead as Lee Everett, a murder convict on his way to the big house when a twisted stroke of luck falls his way via car wreck on the highway. From this moment on, players have to make fast and accurate decisions that will ultimately determine the immediate and future experience to the final episode. Loyal to the Telltale formula, the dialogue is what drives the experience and undivided attention in Walking Dead must be paid at all times due to the quick response times needed to account for each available response or action and execute them. The game has multiple points in which the experience changes based off of the players actions chosen and even effects his relationship with the other cast members. These relationships are also subject to change even when interacting with an entirely different person, possessing indirect consequences and rewards.
This level of depth is truly stunning and is only seconded by the games visuals. The world, character models and facial expressions are very well executed without looking too gritty or overly animated. The zombie models hold a special note in this department due to the faithful likenesses of the undead from the television show. Fans of the televised series will immediately be able to recognize the art direction style and find some sense of familiarity even amongst the constant terror as it unfolds. Voice acting compliments these models greatly as not a single character sounds out of place or lacking in performance. The combination of all these elements is what allows Walking Dead to break the lines between simply gaming and an actual experience along side these characters. Oftentimes, players can free roam the environment to scan for items, potential weapons or start up conversations to expand or further the story in it’s multiple directions.
Due to the extreme nature of storyline and plot turns, the only sure fire mentionable that can be added to this review without the risk of spoilers is the meeting with Clementine, a small young survivor who quickly attaches herself to you. Much like the other characters in the game, Clementine will become very inquisitive of Lee and early conversations with her will quickly set the pace on how stable your relationship with her is. In game cues are shown after important dialogue has been exchanged to show exactly what a person finds questionable or trustworthy of what you’ve said to them. Oftentimes players will be tempted to lie to protect their own identity just to save face amongst what is virtually a group of strangers so no one will jump to harsh conclusions to who exactly you are. It’s best to remember anytime you choose to lie, no matter how small, as other players can pick up on subtle shifts and changes in your stories and behavior.
As dialogue heavy as this title is, the action takes but a close back seat intensity. The drama and action are extremely intimate and engaging each time as the random fights for survival rely on quick and precise responses that can directly impact the player or the characters. Zombies, as they should, do not go down so easily and any tools made available are stressed to be used quickly, silently and lethal as possible for quick kills that won’t attract the surrounding hordes. Depending one the severity of the attacks, 3-5 second widows are given respond to the situation at hand, keeping a fresh edge of the seat feel no matter if it’s an isolated incident against one zombie or a parking lot full of them.
The Walking Dead is a true gaming experience that is unique like no other episodic series. This ‘pilot’ episode sets a great and ominous tone of what is to come in future episodes and the characters introduced. Up to the final moments, players are treated to an end credit sequence similar to the television series which features shorts on the next upcoming episode of Walking Dead. These scenes of the next episode also feature previous decisions you’ve made unfold even further while bringing all new shocks, twists and terror that await in the not too distant future.
The Walking Dead is available for purchase via:
Playstation Network- $4.99 per episode/ $24.99 Season Pass (5 Episodes)
Xbox Live Arcade- 400 MS points per episode/ No season pass
PC/MAX (STEAM)- $24.99 Season Pass