Two Episodes Into The Walking Dead Game…
I’m very impressed with what Telltale Games has done with the Walking Dead Game series. But I have to confess, the way that the Xbox Live Marketplace promoted the game kind of put me off for a while. Every time I look at the gallery of images from the game, I got the feeling that I was looking at art from a throwback. The characters looked all jaggy and the setting and sets looked way too two-dimensional to be a current generation game.
However, when the retail version of the game hit my local Redbox I decided I would give it the benefit of the doubt – it’s only a buck-twenty, right? Am I ever glad I did! There’s a reason (plenty of them actually) that the VGAs (and 69 other gaming review organizations) named The Walking Dead Game of the Year!
This game is truly amazing and represents the best of storytelling in the digital media. It feel so much like the show with crucial decisions happening quickly, well-developed characters (many of whom who die!) and plenty of gut-wrenching sob stories to go around. It’s not a shooter – as a friend of mine found out the hard way after renting it without ever learning anything about it or the Walking Dead franchise – but there is plenty of action in this point-and-click game to keep you on the edge of your seat. Most of it occurs in quick time events, which is okay, and all of it has a satisfying weight – I never feel like I’m doing anything useless (except for maybe that time I fixed a swing).
The Walking Dead Game Plot/Storyline
The game revolves around your character, Lee (who is refreshingly not a stereotypical black man), and a little girl named Clementine. You have to survive through various trials and eventually end up teaming with a motley group of survivors including a Florida hillbilly and his family, a hard-ass news reporter, and a couple of ex-military (Air Force) technicians.
This group is forced to make hard decisions about accepting other survivors, providing food, and how best to approach life in a world gone to hell. And there are no easy choices. Every crossroad you come to will have ramifications as the story adapts to the way you play the game. Characters remember what you said and did and certain choices may spell doom for some of them.
- When charged with helping some shifty dairy farmers fix-up the farm you’re options are to fix a swing and/or shove a few truly-dead zombies off an electric fence. Not very exciting or helpful.
- When forced to choose who to save in an early confrontation with zombies you’re not given certain options that would allow you to save both characters. *Spoiler* One dies no matter what you do.
- Certain characters always die no matter what you do even if your actions should have changed events for the better.
- Some of the foreshadowing in episode 2 is way too heavy and a two year-old could figure out what’s going on before the big reveal.
But these are really niggling nitpicks and overall the game is definitely worth the price.
Graphics and Performance
One of the main complaints about the retail disc version of the game is that it’s incredibly laggy. And it is. I don’t know exactly why but it plays like a herky jerky organ grinder from time to time. You’ll see characters start a motion (turning their head for instance) and then the motion will be completed without any intervening continuity. This leads to several spots in the game where the audio doesn’t sync up with the video. However, I have yet to find a single instance in the game where the lag was bad enough to make me “fail” a quick time event or miss any of the critical interactions as other “reviewers” have noted.
Graphically, I was quite impressed. After my initial impression (from screenshots) that the game was going to look old, I found that it was actually cell shaded (similar to Borderlands) and quite pretty to look at once my perceptions adjusted. I think I actually like the graphic style better than I would have a ”more realistic” attempt. Let’s face it, the zombie game market has been flooded with so much crap that they all tend to look and feel the same. I’m glad Telltale decided to give theirs a little more flavor.
There are a few flaws in the character design (Clementine’s face is uniformly white with very little angulation so sometimes she looks like a pair of big eyes floating in a bowl of milk) but for the most part everything else is great. Even the weapons look realistic enough to fool me.
I’m very impressed with this game series so far but as I said in the beginning I’m only two episodes in. We’ll find out how the rest of the game stacks up and if I still like the outcome a little further on down the road. In the meantime, have a look at The Walking Dead game gameplay videos below.