Zombies have always been a mainstay in entertainment streams such as movies and games, and the guys at TellTale games have created a rollercoaster ride filled with friendship, survival and yes, zombies. The latest installment of this five part series brings us to episode two. I have been gripped with anticipation and it does not disappoint. I thought it would be only fair to give The Walking Dead a full review once all chapters are available, but it would also be wrong to wait that long given on how good the game is. So, I decided to take a look as to why The Walking Dead should be in everyone’s game collection.
With the likes of Sam and Max et al, episodic games are becoming a better way to provide a continuing gaming experience and to increase revenue for developers. Survival horror games have been done many times before, such as the towering monolith of Resident Evil which is known throughout the world; and yet here we have The Walking Dead. I wondered how it could stand out from the rest of the titles within the genre.
You start with the protagonist riding in the back of a police car, idly talking to the police officer driving. Driving, it seems, away from the commotion that is happening in the opposite direction, as hoards of helicopters and squad cars pursue an unknown enemy. As you assess your situation, the brakes are slammed to the floor as someone wanders straight into the vehicle’s path. Swerving and barrel rolling across the tarmac, you crash off the beaten path and into what is to be the beginning of your worst nightmare.
With your body battered and broken, you struggle to release yourself from the handcuffs and you soon realise you are not alone. People are no longer people and trust becomes a distant memory as survival becomes paramount. After some shocking and brutal encounters, you stumble upon a blood-stained house where you find a small girl called Clementine. With her parents gone and suspected of being zombie food or walkers themselves, you both start your journey together. An orphan and a criminal is no match made in heaven, but Clem relies on you and you feel compelled to protect her at all cost.
The Walking Dead drew me in so fast that I couldn’t stop playing from the moment I clicked on Play. The bond between Clem and yourself becomes so strong that the more you play, the more fearful you feel that something terrible will happen to her later on in the game. As you progress, there will be certain action sequences that forces you to decide who to save. You will meet other survivors, who as yet have not been turned, and a group is formed to increase your chances. However, the game is all about making those difficult decisions and you just cannot save everyone. I found it amusing that certain characters always end up dead in everyone’s games, as stats are shown at the end of each episode that have been collated from players’ choices.
I won’t spoil too much, but suffice it to say the story is as gripping as a best selling novel. Dialogue between yourself and characters has an impact on the story, with certain characters remembering what you said to them or may change their perception of you. It is not immediately apparent how these consequences reflect on the story until later on, so each experience is unique which adds to the replay value. There are also puzzles along the way in a point and click fashion, ala Broken Sword.
The characterisation in The Walking Dead is sublime, pulling you further and further into the turmoil. Clementine is a sweet innocent girl, and sometimes your actions can reflect her overall stability. Slamming a pick-axe into someone’s head in front of her, for example, can cause mental trauma to Clem which will be reflected in conversations with her later on. All five episodes deserves a full review, which I can hardly wait as episode three will be released sometime next month.
If you want to make a game purchase soon and are unsure of what to buy, then The Walking Dead thoroughly deserves your hard earned cash.