Presenting an original story in the same universe as the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead is a five-part adventure game from Telltale that follows the story of a convicted murderer, his guardianship over a young girl, and his co-operation with a roaming group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse.
I'm not sure if you knew this, but The Walking Dead is pretty hot right now. So it seemed inevitable that this zombie invested property would eventually make it's way to video game form. Who was tasked to turn the popular comic book and AMC television show into a video game? Well none other then adventure starlets Telltale games, who at one point could do no wrong. But things have changed, with the release of the poorly received Jurassic Park game last year, Telltale Games finds themselves seeking redemption.
Episode One, titled 'A New Day' sets a strong start for the series. Especially when one considers how easy it would be to turn The Walking Dead into a Left 4 Dead clone. It's refreshing to see Telltale's take on what makes the show so captivating, the drama. Some developers might not even bother to include the tense dramatic moments that are scattered throughout Episode One, and so for that Telltale deserve credit. Capturing what makes the show so popular in a video game could not have been a simple thing, but within this first episode I felt a connection to a few of the characters. Even if some of the tech on display struggles to equal the impact of those scenes.
The story revolves around Lee Everett, one of the more likeable murderers you'll meet. His interactions with fellow survivors and in particularly a young girl call Clementine play a large part of what makes The Walking Dead game captivating. Telltale promise that the decisions you make will have an impact in future episodes, and you do have to make some life or death decisions. How well these will these are represented in future episodes cannot yet be determined but they are an exciting possibility and it seemed to me that a preview of Episode Two took decisions I had made into consideration. Controlling Everett is pretty basic, using a controller you use the left analog stick to move Lee around and the right stick to control the main cursor for which you interact with the world. It's a strange system at first, but one that I felt worked well with the pacing and flow of the Episode's action. Action that felt honest to the show as Lee comes to terms with what's going on in the world.
The comic book visuals seem the more sensible choice and are a nice callback to it's comic book roots. There's certainly limitations with the game engine which doesn't quite capture characters facial expressions particularly well and there are a good few hiccups with the PC version unfortunately, while most can be ignored some are more troublesome. Audio levels seem to differ throughout the game meaning that pieces of dialogue were difficult or even impossible to hear and cut-scenes stuttered here and there, frustrating but they only had a limited impact on my enjoyment of Episode One. The series starts strong and certainly as me excited to see what happens next.
In an age where most zombie games are simply being turned into third person shooters, it's great to see Telltale Games prove that zombies can still provide tension and suspense. More importantly they've somehow captured within the game the fundenmentals of what makes The Walking Dead must-see television, the drama and tension between survivors in a world that's pretty much doomed. The zombies are often the background wallpaper to the arguments and fights between those who fight off the flesh eating horde, and in that The Walking Dead Game captures the show wonderfully well. It's just frustrating that it's let down by a few technical limitations and bugs, but any fan of The Walking Dead will be pleased with what they find and Telltale fans should rest assured, they've still got the magic.
Other reviews for The Walking Dead - Episode 1 (PC)
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