The Walking Dead Review
Well, the comics were awesome, the show was too (limited though in its awesomeness) and telltale took some extra steps to make sure the game followed in this legacy. Before we go into detail about the game, I just want a minute to admire the guys over at Telltale. Their approach to reimagining series like The Walking Dead, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park have been one of the most successful endeavors in the art of making movie based games. What needs to be realized here is that though in essence these games may indeed be ‘games’ in theory they aren’t. They’re stories, only this time you get to control what happens next based on the choices you make. This will be explained in detail in the review but OH MY GOD this game has made me love Telltale up to the point that I’m downloaded their entire archive right now.
The game starts with you taking control of the protagonist, an African American called “Lee Everett”, a former History teacher who’s been charged with the murder of a senator and is being driven to the local police station. The game starts with you in a cop car, you get to interact with cop and eventually he loses concentration and hits one of the walkers. You crash into the woods and barely escape death but suffer a leg injury. However the cop has already turned into one of them and you’re forced to shoot him, this brings more of them towards the sound of the gunshot and you narrowly escape by jumping over a fence into a residential area. There in one of the houses you meet ‘Clementine’ the other main character of the game. Clementine is a scared little eight year old girl whose parents were on a trip when all this began. I cannot stress to you how cute this kid is, you’ll constantly find yourself trying to keep her happy and make the decisions she deems to be morally correct. After meeting up with Clementine you head off to the road and this is how the game continues. Throughout the game you’ll travel through different areas, meet up with different people and in a nutshell plan you’re survival in a joint effort with these people while dealing with any problems on the way. This game is in no way related to the series and though the setting may at times seem oddly familiar it isn’t so. The game actually uses this familiarity and takes the episode into such an unexpected climax that you get the wind knocked out of you!
The game takes extra steps to make the story convincing, for one the game is full of high octane cutscenes, the characters are diverse and their voice acting is superb. Each character brings something new to the plate, some may be sympathetic others may be jerks and some may be realists etc
Another thing that makes the story so unique is the choices you make during the game. The game will continue on from your choices and each episode will take into account your choices in the past and the characters attitudes towards will you will develop in the same manner. Say if you choose to disagree with someone, they’ll be sour towards you in the future. You’ll also be faced with some much much harder choices and you’re character will have to cope with the guilt if you end up doing the wrong thing. Also you’ve got Clementine with you and any wrong choice will change the way she looks at you which isn’t a good thing at all. The other thing is the way the cutscenes are in sync with the play time, one minute you’re talking to a friend the next they’re trying to tackle you to the ground and you’ll have to frantically tap buttons to save yourself. Throughout the game you can also talk and learn more about your group. Indeed at times these conversations are the most productive for the story itself.
All in all the plot and the way it mixes with the gameplay and voice acting is outstanding and deserves a 9/10
The gameplay is simple point and click with a cursor present throughout the game. Though this makes up almost 80% of the gameplay, you can walk with the physical buttons though pointing at any object of interest does the same job. Apart from this there are various portions of the game where you’ll have to aim and shoot some walkers, fix some machine or frantically escape a walker hurtling towards you. The base of the gameplay is to interact with the environment and objects around you as well as the people with you. For example you may notice a door and on inspection see that it is weak, after this there will be a new option for you to kick the door open. Take another example, say you talk to one of your group and realize they are hungry, if you find something to eat another option will be created allowing you to give this food to the person in need. Interaction also involves talking to people which is an essential part of the story and at times the game doesn’t progress without it.
Another gameplay mechanism is that of the quick time effects. Though normally I’m not a big fan of quick time effects but here they are used to near perfection. Quick time events normally occur in the game when a zombie jumps and other such times. The problem here is that after a couple of these events, you’ll almost be able to predict when they occur. Another problem is that the pattern of buttons remains the same (at least in the PC version), changing it may have affected the overall level of difficulty of these sequences.
The game play is well crafted, satisfying and diverse enough to earn it an 8/10 with some points taken for the relatively predictable use of quick time events.
Well, the voice acting is superb and the game wins some clear points on that. The overall effects are also excellent such as footsteps or when you chop a walker off. Though this isn’t completely a survival horror game, if you do however have the lights off and headphones on you better prepare yourself for some jumpy moments. There isn’t much noticeable background music but this in its essence helps to portray the tense atmosphere. The background effects are splendid nonetheless in terms of walkers trapped behind you, or any other sources of sound. The game also does bring in just a little background music in times of extreme gloom to make the overall effect more powerful, a violin may play in the background etc
I’ll give it a 7/10 here.
Some what reminiscent to Borderlands and Prince of Persia 2008, the cell shading effects comes into play(I think at least, can’t be sure). The game looks cartoonish but the emotion is still very real. I actually believe that Telltale did us a favor by not making the game ultra graphical like Crysis and Battlefield, the simple graphics did better for the story. The game takes a ‘simple is better’ approach here and I admire them for it. Though the graphics may not be ultra intensive, the environments are still varied, beautiful and graphical monuments of their own. Let the next few screenshots do the talking.
The character models are inspiring, especially Clementine. I cannot fathom how they managed to create a character like Clementine, she’s very cute. If I ever had a daughter I hope she’s as cute as her.
Again, it’s difficult to find flaws in this game and so I’ll give it an 8/10 here too.
Lasting Appeal/Replay Appeal:
I think it goes without saying that any game with this kind of interactive system will have a lot of replay appeal. The Walking Dead is no exception and you’ll want to reshape the story again as soon as you’re done with your first playthrough. I myself found myself frantically pushing the Alt-F4 button to avoid what would have been a terrible decision on my character’s part. However the game falls short of other legends in this category like Mass Effect etc purely due to the fact that the story itself won’t change very dramatically. You may improve your relationship with some of your group and neglect others but the gist of the story remains the same. Though this may itself prompt a replay as you struggle to keep those alive that died in the first playthrough, it becomes apparent that clearly this isn’t going to be a successful endeavor.
However, that said I did play the game twice and so I’ll give it a 7/10 here.
-Brilliantly crafted storyline
-Good use of sound and good graphics
-Character models are admirable
-Mood is expertly portrayed
-Slight lack of replay capability
-Shoddy use of quick time events
-Gets predictable as the time passes
Telltales’ the Walking Dead is a stellar entry into the growing Telltale episodic archive. It stands out from the others however and fosters the already huge popularity of The Walking Dead series as a whole. The game takes you on an emotional journey and refuses to let you go like a virus attached for life. At the same time the life of this virus is short lived, no more than 10-14 hours after which it begins a slow albeit apparent descent into decomposition and finally removal.
So overall the game gets an 8/10