Lasting First Impressions of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games
The Walking Dead is Telltale Games’ latest evolution in their episodic adventure game series format and sees your decisions, and legions of the living-impaired, coming back to bite you. I spent some time with the recently released debut episode to see if it could rouse my succulent grey matter.
The Walking Dead is not your typical zombie game in that instead of shooting and slashing your way through a shambling horde, you are placed in the crucible of an unfolding apocalypse that reveals the true nature of your character through a mixture of story driven point-and-click adventure gameplay and well placed decision and action sequences. You fill the soon-to-be-state-issued shoes of Lee Everett, a new character in the Walking Dead universe, en route to a Georgian prison just as the titular ‘walkers’ begin to rise. Lee’s story is rooted in Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series (while Rick Grimes is still in his coma), rather than the AMC television drama, but fans of both will find themselves well served as familiar characters and environments are explored. This commitment to the graphic novels is clearly evident in the game’s striking cel-shaded art style, imparting a sense of pages come to life.
The player has direct control of the character throughout the story while also being provided with a multifunctional cursor that is used to interact with the many characters and objects in the world. The inventory system has been designed in such a way that the items you acquire feel relevant while still requiring some degree of thought but without feeling like a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle. The judicious use of variably timed responses and quick time events lends pathos and creates a real sense of urgency. The game outright announces at its onset that your decisions will have repercussions on the story and the developers have promised that this game-tailoring feature will be evident both within and across episodes.
The voice acting for all characters was outstanding and this style of game definitely would have suffered were that not so. There was a fair amount of cursing, however its use was justifiable and suited the gritty mature theme (I’m sure I would have been no more polite given the circumstances). Combine the language with some unsettling scenes of gore and you’ll definitely want to play this one after the kids have gone to bed.
Episode 1 is available for download now and expect future episodes to be released on a monthly schedule and on a variety of platforms, namely PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, and Xbox360 (an iOS release is forthcoming).
Telltale Games, I gave you an hour and I am very IMPRESSED. Sign me up for the entire season.