branthog's The Walking Dead - Episode 1 (PC) review

Compellingly Tells Expected Story of Archetypal Characters.

I haven't been overly enthused about the TV show since their storytelling began to decline in the last episode of the first season. I'm also tired of the same style of zombie games we keep getting, am not normally a huge adventure or point-and-click player, and have never liked the concept of "episodic content".

However, I'm compelled by the archetypal characters and choices in the first of five bite-sized episodes of this Telltale game. (First episode clocks in just over two hours). It's more interactive fiction than "game" and you'll spend more time engaged in dialogue choices than solving puzzles and clicking on items in proper order (though there's some of that).

The storytelling, as of the premier episode, doesn't accomplish anything new and I don't think it intends to. It doesn't need to. Playing out different locations, scenarios, and events with different groups of people can be enough for decent zombie fiction and this story has enough bits of back-story, conflict, dilemmas, and choices to keep you glued from one moment to the next.

Though I encountered some light hitching and a few points where the dialogue and animation were mismatched by a couple seconds, it didn't detract from the experience, at all. The voice acting is generally quite good and the conversations interesting. There are some low resolution textures, but they don't manage to detract from the appropriately dark graphic-novel style.

This is the first time I've been excited about episodic content and I can't wait for the next episode. I hope this does well enough that they return with a second season. Perhaps each season could tell a different story of new survivors in a new place, in the Kirkman Walking Dead universe.

Unless you absolutely hate this style of game, The Walking Dead is an easy recommendation -- and no matter what your taste or expectation, buying it on an eventual crazy Steam sale would be a no-brainer.

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