undeadpool's The Walking Dead - Episode 1 (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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Zombies Are Terrifying Again

The Walking Dead just redefined zombie videogames for me. For pretty much as long as I've been playing games (all the way back to the SNES) zombies have been a nuisance, a menace and even a worthy foe, but they've rarely, if ever, been terrifying. In this game: they are terrifying. Every time you face one it is a life-and-death struggle, and don't even BOTHER with more than one. You are not some badass choosing between a shotgun or an assault rifle, you're choosing between a hammer and a OH GOD ALL I HAVE IS A HAMMER! CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! The "combat" isn't really combat, it's almost entirely QTE-based, but the button prompts are unintrusive and, like all good QTEs, give you a sense of urgency and strain rather than simply being sorta-interactive cutscenes.

I have never shouted incoherently at my screen so much in so little time.
I have never shouted incoherently at my screen so much in so little time.

I won't go into plot or character details, but suffice it to say: not everyone you meet is going to make it. That isn't even a spoiler, it's one of the hallmarks of the comic and the genre in general but this more than any other game feels like a zombie apocalypse sim. It feels fairly realistic, and not just in the sense of the zombies but in the kinds of choices you'll be forced to make. This is one of those games where, if you allow yourself to be immersed, you might just be a little startled, even frightened, by the choices you make. This is greatly enhanced by your significant choices operating on a timer a la Alpha Protocol. You won't have time to ruminate on your choices, you will have to make them in the moment and in a snap. The episode only lasts about two hours, but it's an INTENSE two hours that basically never lets up on either the tension or the intensity, and at a $5 price point and with a TON of replayability, I was ready to pay double that at least. I'm now checking my watch for when the next episode comes out.

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