The Walking Dead
Wow! Where to even begin? Well let me start by saying that The Walking Dead is a game everyone should play because it is fantastic. It has numerous moments of shock, awe and grief that tapped into my emotions better than most of the games I played as of yet. Rarely does a game give me goose bumps but this one has it in spades. This game hinges on its story and it succeeds in that aspect carrying the game through to the very end mainly because of player choice. Your choice matter in this game and at every turn the games remind you of that and the consequences of your actions has a very tangible, realistic payoff. The characterization is outstanding and most of the ones who would be a part of your journey is excellently realized and multidimensional. Lee Everett and Clementine raised the bar for video game tandems.
This game is very story driven in fact that the gameplay is so basic. That's not to say that the game is boring because it is not. The key in the implementation of the gameplay elements is the timing of every prompt and the context of the scene. For example the prompt in a scene using force (pushing or pulling etc.) will have you just tapping Q then pressing E at the right moment. Another prompt is the obligatory use of firearms by pressing aiming with the mouse and firing with the mouse button. These prompts may sound very dull on paper but it connects to the on-screen action well enough that it adds to the immersion. It is used at just the right amount keeping it from getting stale. The pacing is perfect giving you ample time to breath and think things through before moving to the next scene and I tell you this game will get you thinking A LOT. It is emotionally draining for the most part as the game is relentless on giving you tough choices and jaw-dropping scenes one after the next. Tension is always running high in this game as the survivors struggle against nature (zombies) and among themselves.
The graphics and animation is great for the most part. The sound effects and voice acting conveys the right mood and atmosphere of the game. The game is not perfect though as there are some technical foibles like the movement and its controls might be stiff at times and there are some stilted frames of animation here and there but these are hardly an issue once you get sucked into the story and it happened almost instantaneously on my part. There is rarely a dull moment in the whole series as every scene has weight and relevance to the narrative especially when your decision is important on how the story plays out.
Okay that is just an overview of the game. The rest of this entry would be filled with MASSIVE SPOILERS so if I convinced you enough to play the game already (which I hopefully did) you can come back here to read the rest of my thoughts about the game.
Decisions Made (MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!)
I will now discuss the 25 major decisions I made in the game. These are the summarized decisions at the end of every chapter.
1. Lie to Hershel- I chose to not lie to him and that goes for the rest of my philosophy in the game. I never concealed information in every turn and I even told everyone of my past.
2. Duck or Shawn- I chose Shawn because I'm an ass but also because I thought I owed Shawn and Hershel something for taking us in. Also I blame Duck's stupidity for getting Shawn stuck in the vehicle.
3. Loyalty (Kenny or Larry)- So in this particular choice I picked that we have to reason with Larry and that put me in his side which I did not intend to. But that is what I like about the game. It doesn't give easy exits and you may have a choice as Lee but you can't control what other characters can or cannot do.
4. Mercy (Give the gun to Irene)- So this scene is good because it's a pseudo-euthanasia dilemma. I opted to give her the gun as I believe that it's her call on how to end her life. Also turning into a zombie is a fate worse than death.
5. Doug or Carley- Man this choice really gave me the creeps. It is certainly one of the defining moment that kept me hooked for the rest of the game. I chose Carley though because she's a nice journalist and I think that her experience in shooting will be a valuable asset. Doug is not bad though and I feel sorry for him but decisions have to be made.
6. Savior (Chopped David's Leg)- Episode 2 starts out strong with a live or let die scene. Of course I saved the dude because it would be heartless to leave him alone in the forest.
7. Interrogation (Shot Jolene?)- I didn't have enough information to go on so I did not shoot Jolene although I got a bit panicky cause you know crazy people can do that to normal people. Right then and there I knew that something was up with the St. John's.
8. Pragmatism (Helped Kill Larry?)- Man this scene ughh... Just thinking about it makes me cringe. I chose to do the CPR but then Oh God BAM! Gee, this scene really is stuck in my head for days now. It's hard to like Larry but then it would be murder to kill him in cold blood. Besides turning is not instantaneous so I don't know the deal about Kenny throwing that salt lick with reckless abandon. One of my favorite scenes in the game.
9. Revenge (Killed Both St. John's Brothers?)- I killed Danny because he taunted me and I left Andy because everyone was looking at me. Also the dead came already so what's the point?
10. Survival (Stole Food from the Car?)- Yeah I stole food from the car considering that some of the characters haven't eaten in days. I was just bummed because there was not an option to steal some and leave some behind if in case anyone owns it and also to ease my conscience.
11. Girl in Macon- I opted not to shoot her cause she was bitten anyway already. No point in saving the dead plus it gave Lee and Kenny some time to collect all the supplies. It made the crew grumpy though especially Lilly.
12. Leaving Lilly- Man this scene is really heartbreaking and shocking. I left her out to rot because I can't take someone who would Kill Carley.
13. Getting physical with Kenny- I'm a diplomatic kind of guy so I talked him out of fighting.
14. Killing Duck- I decided to kill Duck because Kenny's burdened enough as it is with the suicide of Katjaa and all.
15. Helping Omid- So this decision is lackluster for me. I decided to help Christa because, I don't really know to. I just didn't feel that this decision is weighty enough to be even considered as a major decision.
16. Killing Duck Part 2- Same as before I chose to kill this kid that resembles Duck. An easy choice really.
17. Meeting with Dr. Vernon- I chose to be rational and honest because why the hell not?
18. Taking Clem to Crawford- I feel a lot better with Clem joining the team than being left with an invalid.
19. Ben's life- This is the moment I've been waiting for because fuck Ben! He is the reason Lilly and Carley are both dead. The fucking idiot should die for that and I let go of him without a moment's hesitation. I also told him not to fucking talk about the incident with Kenny and he blabbered about it in the worst possible time imaginable. Larry was at least tolerable but that idiot Ben really takes the cake for being utterly useless.
20. Reveal the Bite- So yeah this scene is also unexpected but it led to the awesomely heartbreaking conclusion of season 1. I chose to reveal the bite because it could lead to misunderstandings later on.
21. Cutting off Lee's arm- I opted not to cut his arm because man this came out of the blue for some reason. I need my full body function if I am to save Clementine from some hooligan.
22. Losing Temper with Kenny- I didn't lose my cool as I've said earlier I'm kind of a diplomatic kind of guy. Kenny also has been through a lot so I cut him some slack.
23. Surrendering Weapons- I did surrender my weapons all of them because you know you have to show some obedience if you are to negotiate. Also this guy has some points and he almost had me believe that he can take care of Clementine. I was silent the whole time until Clem got out of the room and fucking killed the guy. Clem grew up really fast I'm so proud.
24. Killing the stranger- I let Clem handle it cause she can.
25. Stopped Lee from turning- Yeah, I let Clem handcuff Lee and put a bullet in his head before he turns. Man that last conversation between them really reduced me to tears. It gave the game a breathtaking conclusion matched only by a few other games ever.
Some other things:
It can be said that Clem has been a sweetheart since day one but the moment I really connected with her completely was when Lee was teaching her how to shoot the gun. That face she makes when Lee steadies her aim really made me love her.
This game is stressful. Man, I think I caught myself taking a deep breath every now and then just to ease the burden inside my head.
That ending scene is really tense. I was thinking the whole time whether Lee would turn before she can help Clem escape. Man that would be a fucking downer if Lee chomped on Clem instead. Thankfully that did not happen.
Where will Lilly ultimately die if I made her stay with the team?
Will the stranger be the one who takes Clem away from Lee if you hadn't stole his goods?
Will Telltale games be able to top season 1?
What would be the improvements you want to see in season 2?
Thank you if you read up to this line! The bottom line is I'm just glad that Telltale Games pulled this off with flying colors. This game could well be a definitive statement that a game can be carried by its story and not by its gameplay elements.