Having started out as a graphic novel before becoming a highly acclaimed TV show, The Walking Dead now makes the transition to videogames under the guidance of Telltale Games. And what a wonderful transition it’s been.
Setup as a separate adventure from the cast of the graphic novel and TV series, The Walking Dead game follows Lee Everett, college professor and apparent criminal, as he’s being escorted to prison when they get in an accident, leaving Lee stranded with the undead and now caring for an abandoned eight year old girl. Lee and the girl, along with a group of survivors, must now escape from immediate danger avoid the undead.
Episode one of The Walking Dead game sets the scene marvellously and does a great job of building the anticipation for the episodes to follow. This is all through an exceptional narrative and a shakeup of Telltale’s traditional adventure game style, that makes the genre feel fresh and relevant again. Playing more like a choose your own adventure interactive story than a game, The Walking Dead, for the most part, plays itself, following the tale of Lee Everett as he tries to survive the zombie outbreak.
Choosing dialogue options is your primary action. As the survivors panic, argue and question what’s going on, everybody is scrutinised as mistrust between the group grows. Under the pressure of a narrow time window you’ll have to choose dialogue options and make tough decisions as events unfold to shape your character’s story and the lives of your fellow survivors. It’s brilliantly intense. You’re forced to make your choices quickly and it’s pleasantly surprising how flustered you can get. Getting caught out in a lie or making a snap decision can have immediate consequences, it’s excellent interactive storytelling. additionally, Telltale Games promises that your choices will be significant in the episodes to follow as well.
Despite the focus on narrative and dialogue, a few adventure game tropes make their way into the experience. over the 3-4 hours episode you’ll have a handful of items to fetch and rudimentary puzzles to solve, as well as the odd quick time event, as is customary in Telltale’s latest offerings. However, it all feels appropriate and light, allowing the narrative to remain the most important aspect of the experience.
Indeed The Walking Dead’s first episode is a absolute success. It capture the feel of the show and graphic novel wonderfully through a cell shaded aesthetic that takes nothing away from the horrific and grotesque undead and emotive characters. And replay is encouraged due to the choices you have to make. There are literally life and death decisions resting on your shoulders and exploring different outcomes is half the fun. If this is any indication of what’s to come, then The Walking Dead could well be Telltales best series yet.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3/ PC Release Date: 25/04/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of The Walking Dead by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.