I have been enjoying a lot of Telltale games lately. I finished up the Back to the Future series a few months ago. I have also been trudging through the Jurassic Park games. I had a really good time with the Back to the Future games. The story seemed a little drawn out, but it was really pretty good overall. I liked the writing and the call-backs to the original trilogy. Of course, we all know about the missteps in the Jurassic Park games (the shortcomings have been well documented on GiantBomb. The Walking Dead series was really "the" make-or-break series for the Telltale guys. After hearing all of the praise slathered on The Walking Dead during the Game of the Year discussions, I knew that I just couldn't let this game pass me by.
I just finished the first episode and, while fully understanding that this is just the start of the series, I really thought the first episode was engaging and well paced. A lot of the Telltale games' episodes have been drawn out too much for my own tastes; this is interesting because most of their episodes all last about 2 ~ 3 hours. I really never got too bored with the pacing of this first episode. There was one point in the episode where I thought that I should have prioritized getting the old man his pills instead of going to help Glenn, but once I figured out that the story was plotted out that way I didn't begrudge the design.
The progression of character interaction was plotted out like a good symphony. At first I was a little perplexed about the kind of character that I was supposed to be; was I a good guy or was I a bad guy. The opening dialog between Lee and the officer set this up quite nicely and it gave the user the option to choose the kind of character that s/he wants to be. Soon, Lee encounters a small child who becomes his ward. We start to see the kindness that these characters must depend on in this new world. We, as the user, have to start making some tough choices about which of these characters must live and die. Finally, we encounter characters that we can't completely trust, but we must trust them, for the time being, so that we can tackle the problems that are most urgent.
Robert Kirkman has created a wonderful universe in The Walking Dead. I like that we aren't preoccupied with trying to find a cure or getting to the bottom of why this all happened. His world isn't made for that kind of narrative. His world is not complicated with neo-government corporations trying to take over the world or by governments trying to control the masses through gene manipulation. His world is filled with a silent, deadly menace that is always present ready to kill anybody at any time. His world is filled with the harsh decisions that have to be made to survive in a ever deadly world; a place where one can't stay still for too long, can't get comfortable, and is always a few steps away from starvation, betrayal, and/or becoming one of "them."
The first episode was really just an appetizer to whet the users pallet to the full course meal that is coming. After listening to the Game of the Year discussions on GiantBomb, I know that this is going to be a wonderful Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.