When I first heard the announcement for Telltale’s The Walking Dead, I immediately wrote it off as an attempt to make a quick buck. Based on the wildly popular comic books by Robert Kirkman, it’s a point-and-click style adventure/horror game split into episodes. As time went on and reviews were released along with walkthroughs on Youtube, my interest was piqued. People were enjoying the game, and reviews seemed to be positive, so after watching a play through of the first Episode in the series, A New Day, I decided to purchase the game for myself.
The point-and-click aspect can be frustrating at first, as you have to be quick on the draw or you die. However, it isn’t hard to become accustomed to. If you plan on purchasing it, be aware that it contains an incredible amount of intense language and violence – it’s not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. That being said, representations of personalities and attacks are very accurate to what they could be if the zombie apocalypse ever really happened. The artwork of the game is heavily inspired by The Walking Dead comic books. It has an almost oil painted look, and is beautiful and unique in its own way, giving the game the appropriate feeling to play out.
Playing as Lee Everett, a convicted criminal, you try to make your way through the post-apocalyptic world, which is crawling with the undead. I was first impressed by how the game immediately throws you into stressful situations, demanding you make decisions and adapt in a world you don’t understand and can’t predict.
After finding your little companion, Clementine, the entire game changes from being all about your safety to being all about hers. For any sane person, her safety comes before Lee’s, and you will do anything you can to protect the little girl. That is how my play through went – always trying to do what was best for Clementine. That aspect of the story, throwing in a little girl to protect, is what changed this from a good game to a great game. Had it just been another survival game, all about saving your own skin, there would have been a lacking element. Adding Clementine to the equation gives the story emotion it couldn’t have accomplished in any other way.
As you progress through the story, it centers on Lee and Clementine and the team they have become. Lee’s an incredibly strong lead character, regardless of the choices he makes. He is always there, and he’s always willing to put up a fight if necessary. The forced dialogue options are appealing to almost anyone who plays the game, because they are very natural choices to make when put in the shoes of a man protecting a young child from harm, or making a tough decision for a group of survivors, or just defending himself from an attack. His selfless and helpful personality make him an excellent main character, and keep the game interesting from episode one until the heart-wrenching finale of episode five.
The Walking Dead is raw, emotional, and real. It forces you to make decisions you don’t want to make, to see things you don’t want to see, and to fall in love with the characters presented before you. It’s an unexpected masterpiece, with down to earth views on what really matters in life once everything you thought was important is ripped away.
The experience that Telltale’s created here is phenomenal, not only because it’s fun to play and reasonably priced, but because in a world dominated by empty, callous best-selling games, it sucks you into the story and forces you to feel. When season two comes out next year, you can bet I’ll be there waiting with baited breath.