ravenhoe's The Walking Dead (PC) review

Storytelling vs. game mechanics - A paradox for the ages

The interesting thing about The walking Dead is, if you would force me to sit down and write a review after immediately finishing the game and measuring its sheer and unfiltered emotional impact (atmosphere, story, characters and scares!), I would rate this game much higher than an 8. The characters are interesting, well through through and almost all of them really hard to read, especially when you compare the characters to games such as LA Noire or the Mass Effect, all of which pay a heavy due when it comes to character development both in itself and within the story, but all the characters never lose the feeling of being made out of cardboard and following genre clichees. TWD's story is great and should please fans of the comic book and/or TV series and its in sync with the tone, tropes and pace of the source material. The atmosphere is very creepy, even though I would have liked some more diverse environments, but I reckon that is a question both of making sure the title stays gritty and true to its roots and budget. It is quite scary, both because of the overall angst that lingers above the group of survivors, but also because there are quite a few jump scares in here, old school horror. As far as the gameplay is concerned, I cannot - by the life of it -rate the gameplay itself more then 5 or even a 4 because it just consists of pushing a few buttons (sometimes smashing the same one over and over again and sometimes doing nothing but holding the up arrow for 2 minutes). The adventure / puzzle elements are so easy, it is like playing a game for 5 year olds. That is quite a shame, because I never really have the sense of achievment I do when playing other games. Then again, maybe that is just not what Telltale Games are trying to achieve here and I dont mind if they deliberatley choose to abandon the game design in favour of creating an immersive interactive storyline. The decisions in the game can be quite hard to take (even going as far as deciding who will live and who will die). I just wished there would be a better way of telling how the game could have turned out. I am not keen to play it through a second time (in the near future at least) and I have no idea how flexible and variable the game actually is. Sure, it feels like my decisions have an impact, but do they ? Or does TWD just create a clever illusion and makes me feel like I can truly mold the destiny and paths of my characters in the game. Well, who can tell. The comic book style of the visuals are great and I find that it is a much better fit than many other Telltale Games, which are usually known for looking pretty awful (Like Jurassic Park, Back to the Future or the Monkey Island series). All in all, a great way of experiencing the Walking Dead and if you are a sucker for story, characters and setting you will love this but dont look for gameplay, it is just an interactive comic book.

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