The Walking Dead: Complete Review
by Joshua Williams
This year Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead game was winner of Spike’s VGA game of the year. Based on the comic book series which was even more popularized by the television series, The Walking Dead Game uses an old-school point-and-click approach. This works well considering the series is driven by its story. So many beloved franchises are ruined but you’d be pleased to hear that these five episodes make up one pleasant experience.
Looks Like A Zombie
At first glance the cel-shading in The Walking Dead may make it appear to be a kid’s game but that can’t be further from the truth. With violence, blood, betrayal, and important decisions to make, this is very much a title for mature audiences. This approach makes perfect sense if you’re familiar with the comic book series but if you were only familiar with the show then you might’ve been scratching your head. The camera can be an issue at times but this is usually the case with the genre as a whole.
Sounds Like A Zombie
Sound is key to the atmosphere of The Walking Dead series. Telltale Games has done a great job of using a tense soundtrack and professional voice acting to capture that atmosphere. Over a span of five episodes, all the dialogue works well in deciding whom you’d like to have around and whose side you’d take in an altercation. There is definitely a level of emotional attachment to the characters thanks to the quality of voice acting herein.
Moves Like A Zombie
This is 2012 and the point-and-click genre has come a long way. Still, when you’re used to fast paced run and gun titles, by comparison this game plays like moving in molasses. It works, it just takes some adjustment, don’t spent too much time looking for the run button. You will have to stay on your toes however. Amongst the dialogue you’ll have to be ready to respond within a small window of time and your responses effect the outcome of the entire game. Add to that the quick time events and you’ve more than made up for the sluggish pacing throughout.
Movement is handled by the left analog stick while the right stick is used to move your on-screen cursor. Your face buttons correspond to the four directions on your cursor as well as individual choices while conversing or making decisions. There aren’t many puzzles but the ones you happen across require a combination of exploration and utilizing the aforementioned control scheme.
Story…Hope You Like Zombies!
While the story will eventually be all your own, there are key elements that will be the same across the board. The main protagonist is Lee, a southern man in trouble with the law whose problems have only just begun. Lee soon meets Clementine who has hidden herself in her treehouse, awaiting her parents return. Everyone else you meet along the way can be considered temporary support depending once again on your decisions so it’s difficult to define any other character.
As you progress it becomes clear that this is not just about zombies but very much like being apart of the TV series. You’re put into positions where you have to decide who gets rations, how openly you feel comfortable talking about your group with outsiders, and deciding what type of man you want to be. One thing you’ll notice as you progress is that there are some lip-syncing and technical issues that can probably be contributed to incorporating the decisions you’ve made.
Tough choices will constantly have to be made, consequently you’ll find your group moving from location to location. Whether by RV, by foot or by train you’ll have new encounters and its highly entertaining to see how everyone has adapted to the zombie invasion. I’m doing my best to present this review in a “spoiler-free” manner so I’ll just continue to be vague.
Towards the second half of the game (episodes 3 and beyond). Clementine learns to protect herself and not be so much of a liability. This highlights an inconsistency as she is the youngest, the one everyone should be keeping an eye on, then the unthinkable happens. Not to mention the impossibility of being able to just hear their conversations through the walkie-talkie, their shortsighted escape plan and the brief cameos with little to no explanation as to their eventual predicaments.
Winding down to the finale things take a turn for the worse. Lee is forced to make yet another tough decision as a result of being caught off guard and the rest of the group gets taken advantage of. Lee, determined as ever to ensure Clementine’s safety continues at all cost to do just that. In his way is the main antagonist which is finally revealed as well as a cliffhanger which eludes to a second season.
Relying heavily on story and the relationships between characters, the point-and-click model is perfect for The Walking Dead. The cel-shading in color (as opposed to the black and white comic) does well to bridge the gap between the original comic and the TV adaptation. While available on multiple platforms, this review is based on the downloadable PSN version which is currently $19.99 for all episodes. While there are a handful of technical issues, it is not as plagued as the disc version which reportedly suffers from various technical issues.
Piggybacking on the wildly popular TV series, it is hard not to see why The Walking Dead game has been so successful. In a nutshell its like an interactive animated Walking Dead story-line. How could they go wrong? Add to that the way Telltale Games released the episodes on a somewhat monthly basis. Every episode became an event amongst gamers and its always a nice touch to see how your decisions compared with those of players around the world. Was it enough to warrant a game of the year accolade? I’ll say yes! Excluding the disc version and considering the value of the experience you get for $20. Its hard not to appreciate a developer NOT ruining a franchise by making it into a video game.
+ Engaging Story
+ Attachment to characters
+ Episodic cliffhangers
– Lip-syncing issues
– Technical flaws