The beginning after the end
Note: Until we know if GB will do reviews for individual episodes or the series as a whole, I'll update this review has new episodes are released.
Despite my familiarity with the games of Telltale, I've only played 2...well, technically 2 episodes. My only exposure to their style of games has been the first 2 episodes of Tales of Monkey Island. Adventure games have never really been my thing since they usually have bizarre solutions for puzzles or hints so vague that upon consulting an FAQ I'd go "yeah sure, obviously I would've thought of that". Yet after hearing how awful Jurassic Park was, to see reactions reversed and many loving the first episode of the Walking Dead, I decided to cave and check it out. Well-drawn (literally and figuratively) characters, moody atmosphere and some good zombie action, the series is off to a great start.
Debut episode starts off as you, Lee Everett, are being transported in the back of a police car as the spread, panic and confusion of a zombie outbreak occurs. After a brutal car crash, you awaken and make your way to a nearby house where you're introduced to a young girl, Clementine, and become her guardian. Along the way you'll meet several other survivors as everyone tries to stay alive, share confusion as to what exactly is going on and tensions will run high among everyone else.
One common complaint of Heavy Rain and by extension, Jurassic Park, was the fact you don't actually play the game but rather press buttons and occasionally control your character which made it less "game"-like. While this is certainly true, it allowed a way to tell their stories without the burdens of boss fights, difficult platforming sections or level grinding. While Heavy Rain succeeded (most of the time), The Walking Dead tries to do away with the completely button-heavy gameplay and make a mixture of traditional adventure games and quick time events. This makes for a more dynamic experience since it can allow certain sections to breathe while ratcheting up the tension with zombie attacks.
Graphically the game is gorgeous in terms of art design as it becomes one of the better examples of a "moving comic book". Environments are well-lit and provide great atmosphere, characters are nicely expressive (especially Clementine and her shy faces) and gore is graphic without being Darkness II levels of repulsion. Voice acting and music is top notch and no bad voice actors in the bunch (although the very angry Larry might make ya wish a zombie would snack on him soon).
While it does have some occasional "adventure game logic" such as a reporter who not only doesn't know a radio needs batteries but even puts them in backwards despite a clear-as-day display on the battery case and Lee sure has a tendency to fall a lot, the Walking Dead somehow manages to be even better than the TV show as far as creating a drama story set in a zombie apocalypse.