Can the Best Game of the Year Barely be a Game?

The end of The Walking Dead has come, and its done about as much justice to the series as it possibly could have. The game finishes on the same straight path that it began on, with the illusion of player choice particularly strong throughout. You don't actually make a lot of decisions that affect the game, but you end up feeling like they do. That's why I don't think that Walking Dead would be nearly as much fun on a second playthrough, but for that first romp through the game, the effect is pretty staggering. The fact that choice is so limited sort of plays into one of the most interesting conundrums of the year: how does one rate the Walking Dead? In many ways, its without question the best game released all year. For my money, the writing, voice acting, and story stand head and shoulders above anything else released this year, and visuals, while technically simplistic, do a good job conveying the emotion needed to cary the story, even if the animation looks a bit stilted at times. However, and this could be important, in some ways The Walking Dead is barely a game at all. Beyond the dialog trees, all you have are a few simplistic puzzles and quick-time events. It may sound like a cop-out but enjoyment comes down to expectations: do you want a game or an experience, because as an experience, The Walking Dead places you at the center of a great story that you are free to become a part of, and in that respect, it works as well, if not better than any game ever has.