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The Walking Dead and I have an interesting relationship. It’s a wonderful series that combines every zombie movie staple with a cast of characters that makes the clichés feel fresh and original. But I find myself taking time catching up to the current season, not to draw out the excitement, but a general lack of interest (on Season 2 and been told that makes sense).
I picked up The Walking Dead, A Telltale Games Series a few weeks ago, and let me tell you, by the end of the fifth episode, it was the best $25 I ever spent on gaming.
Bringing back two old ideas from the Lucas Games era, episodic content and the adventure genre, set in a zombie apocalypse setting of the popular comic book series instead of the show.
This game’s strong point, The Walking Dead puts you in the shoes of Lee Everett, a man on his way to prison when the outbreak begins. He meets a young girl named Clementine stranded alone and deals with struggles of group dynamics, keeping Clem safe and a zombie apocalypse. You know, the norm.
Each character and situation is expertly crafted, and even the bad guys draw some sympathy at times. Lee’s dilemmas feel like your own as you make decisions that are harder than you would think and actually do make a difference in the story that unfolds. The trip to Crawford in Episode 4 and visiting Hershel Greene in Episode 1 are decidedly high points, and if the entirety of Episode 5 doesn’t bring you to tears, you must be related to Mitt Romney (not gonna be able to make that joke too much longer).
Point-and-click adventure games were an older style, and to some gamers, may seem simplistic. It is, but considering the convoluted logic of the older games, it’s actually a blessing. Conversations are usually timed, which adds tension to already tense situations.
The cel-shading used replicates the comic art well, giving you a connection to the world. The models look great and the backgrounds make you believe you are in your own living comic book. If you weren’t a fan of cel-shading, this game may change your opinion.
Overpowering at moments and subtle at others, the music is perfectly catered to every morsel of story. This is what music should be in every game.
Anyone looking for a zombie killing spree should look elsewhere, like Dead Rising or Dead Island. This game is all about tense, timed conversations and quick-time event action sequences. This is a game designed to tell a story, and in that regard, Telltale has succeeded extraordinarily. You will find it as difficult to wait for Season Two of this game as you do when the television series has a finale.
Each and every choice you make has effects both immediate and long term, changing subtly the aspects of where the story goes and who makes it that far. Five episodes amounts to a lot of choices, and a lot of variations as to how your stories play out.
All five episodes will cost you $25, which may be overpriced compared to the time you’ll be playing it (about two hours per episode). However, the story leaves an impression weeks after you’ve played it. There are few games out there that provide the same emotional effect in so little time. For the Walking Dead fans, this is a must-have. For everyone else with a few gaming dollars to spare, this is a must-play.
The Walking Dead is rated M for Mature for Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Drug References, Intense Violence, and Sexual Themes across five episodes. All five are now downloadable on Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 via PSN, Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade and iOS, with an upcoming disc version coming soon.