How did it take me so long to play this game?!
When I first heard of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games, I was admittedly skeptical. I had heard good things, but I’d also seen Telltale’s previous work – namely Back to the Future – and it wasn’t exactly a masterpiece. So when I got down to playing TWD, I wasn’t expecting too much.
Was I ever wrong: This game is amazing!
It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game that has kept me on the edge of my seat like Walking Dead does. Its combination of lightning quick moral decisions and plot twists rivals that of the comics and TV show. The characters are believable and likeable, and the decisions you make actually mean something. (ps. I still hate you Mass Effect)
Throughout this 5-episode adventure, you play as Lee Everett, an ex-con with a shady history of violence. Lee gets into a car crash after hitting one of the multitude of undead that has taken over the world, and stumbles upon Clementine, a young girl who’s parents went missing in the disaster. You’re eventually tasked with keeping Clem safe and trying to find your way through this crazy, horrifying new world.
Clementine is basically the reason to play this game. You’re immediately drawn to her and her innocence, and you feel the need to protect her at all costs. I don’t recall being so emotionally involved with a character so quickly in any other game in a long time.
This game shines in a number of areas, but mostly in its ability to convey emotions in facial expressions and voice acting, and it has some of the best of both in my opinion. You genuinely feel for these characters, and share in their happiness (whenever there is any) as well as writhe in their despair along with them. When you lose a friend in this game it is continuously felt throughout. All of your decisions matter, with a little warning appearing at the top of the screen when something you’ve said or done has repercussions. Say something to a character about yourself that isn’t true? “Clementine will remember you lied to her”. Back one friend over another in an argument? “Glenn will remember that you had his back”.
One thing that I had an issue with, and there are SPOILERS here if you haven’t played episode 1, it that when my brother, who is playing the game as well, saved Hershel’s son – someone I had chosen not to save – the outcome was the same. The person died anyway, the reaction from the group didn’t change and eventual ban from the farm was still issued. It made me wonder how much freedom of choice we really did have, or of the freedom was simply moral and not physical. Telltale has stated that the choices we’re making really will matter, and that in the upcoming Episode 5, the friends and groups we have as well as the locations we visit will be completely different than that of other players who have made other decisions. Here’s hoping! (Again, I’m Mass Effect jaded.)
The graphics mimic that of the graphic novels, and the change from hi-def visuals is welcome. TWD is a great looking game, and the comic style visuals lend themselves nicely to this gory and violent world.
All in all, this game is superb. The voice acting, the characters, the ominous setting and nearly immediate life and death choices all make this game a worthy addition to the Walking Dead franchise, and a fantastic way to immerse yourself into the world of the undead.