The Walking Dead
Stories in video games have never really been taken seriously. Most people view them as a way to entertain or reduce stress. Although some developers have made several attempts to incorporate drama and add a meaningful story to their games, none of them have really delivered in a way that a movie, television show, or novel could.
“The Walking Dead” is a game that proves that video games can be just as powerful as any other forms of media. It’s developed by Telltale Games, a studio that is known for adventure games, and it’s based on Robert Kirkman’s critically acclaimed comic book series. Although it may share the same name with the comic and the increasingly popular AMC television show, the game has its own individual story, and the knowledge of any other related fiction is not required to enjoy this game.
It was originally a downloadable game, broken up into five episodes. At the time of the game’s launch in April, only the first episode was completed and available to play. The development team then took user feedback into consideration while they completed the second episode, and this cycle continued on a monthly basis until its conclusion in episode five, which was released in November. The episodic format increased the dramatic tension of the series, as each episode left you to wonder what would happen next.
You take control of a character named Lee, a man who has committed murder and is on his way to prison in the back of a police car right before the zombie apocalypse hits. From there, similar to the “Mass Effect” games, you control what this character says and does. You are presented choices about what Lee should say next in the dialogue, and the way the characters react to your choices impacts the story of the game.
This aspect of the game is what sets it apart from others. The fact that the characters react to everything you say and do really brings all of them to life, and I found myself genuinely caring about them throughout the game. I have never felt a stronger connection between the characters in any game, and I’m not afraid to admit that the final scene reduced me to tears. It’s a story that I still think about weeks after completing it, and games should evoke this feeling more often.
That being said, it’s not without flaws. Users may run into some frame rate issues that really slow the game down. On top of that, some of the controls when you’re in combat feel really loose and hard to get used to, but thankfully these sections are few and far between.
Despite those few negatives, the experience of “The Walking Dead” was an incredible one. If you’re someone who cares about good storytelling in video games, this is a prime example of how it should be done. Coming in at around $30 for the disk-based version, a game like this is hard to pass up. (5/5)