By JohnFordColey 2 Comments
Recently, I convinced my brother-in-law, an avid player of TF2 and COD, to give The Walking Dead a shot. I was hoping to see how much he veered in his playthrough from my own experiences. I had the idea that you could get a pretty decent understanding of a person if you watch them play it through. I don't know if you could call it a thought experiment, and I'm not a student of psychology, but I had the curiosity. Plus, another person gets to enjoy the game and its story. Win-win.
I watched him play through most of Episode 1 yesterday, chiming in only when he had questions about context or with what items were useful. He said about midway through that he was aiming to make "common sense" choices, and it seemed that he was playing it pretty close to my own game (trying to play peacemaker, making sure the kids are safe, etc.) I started getting a little bored, since it was so similar, and I have played through Ep.1 a few times already in similar fashion. It wasn't until the motel and the choice you have to make there that the diverge happened.
(SPOILERS in case you haven't played Walking Dead yet, which I hope is just a few of you!)
When it came time to choose whether or not to give the girl the gun, he chose not to. When I played it, I gave it to her, and told her that I'd be with her the whole time. Basically, I was doing an act of mercy, something that would continue in later episodes. I watched the events play out much differently, where once there was a moment of heavy melancholy, there was now an act of desperation. After the scene was finished, I asked him exactly why he didn't want to give her the gun. He told me that it would've been a waste of a bullet, and that he didn't want to draw the zombie's attention to the group with the sound of gunshot. I realized at that moment, his game was going to be an altogether different emotional experience from mine.
Getting back to the motel, he plays through the motions, finally wrapping up everything at the pharmacy, and then settling in at the motel again. He talks to the characters, initially being friendly with Kenny, but choosing to yell at Carley about how he chose her over Doug, being withdrawn from Clementine (and using the first ellipses I've ever seen anyone use), and just blowing Lily off. The game wraps up, but I chose not to ask him how he thought of it. I wanted him to think on it a bit. I thought I'd ask him in the morning.
Sure enough, this morning, I proceeded to ask him how he thought of Ep. 1. He told me that he thought it was alright, and that he's going to continue the story, since he already started it. He then told me that he hoped that he doesn't have to keep rescuing the kids. I was a bit surprised by the response, since he chose to save Duck, and that he had been pretty good with Clem up until the final scene. It seems his experiences are making him more and more pragmatic, which will drastically alter how Ep. 2 is going to play out. Perhaps I'll stick around and see what goes down. At least it's a new way to experience a game I thoroughly enjoyed.