Review: The Walking Dead

Posted: December 13, 2012 in Adventure Game, PC, PS3, zombies

2012-11-21_00016 The Walking Dead franchise has been a runaway success in all media it has appeared in: first, in comics, then, in AMC’s TV series, and now with Telltale’s adventure game. The Walking Dead doesn’t waste time getting started- you’re put in the shoes of former College Professor and current convicted murderer Lee Everett in a day when his and the rest of the world’s lives change dramatically. He is soon taking care of young girl named  Clementine as he travels through the state of Georgia during the zombie apocalypse.

2012-11-21_00015The game is similar to Telltale’s previous adventure games in many respects; but in some ways it’s the culmination of all the work they’ve done so far. It bears a lot of similarity to Back To The Future in terms of its art style (albeit The Walking Dead is much less colorful and much more grimy-looking). The game incorporates a lot of dialogue, a few inventory puzzles, and the occasional QTE (they use the same buttons throughout the episodes, so randomized instant deaths aren’t really a problem). The core mechanic of the game is the dialogue system, though. Characters remember how you treat them, and this involves how they respond to you later on. There are some other activities to break up the monotony- an early one features you sneaking around a parking lot trying to save someone, and later on, there’s a pseudo-FPS shooting gallery.Strangely, inventory puzzles are all but missing from The Walking Dead.

The episodes offer a variety of dramatic twists and turns, and some of them are genuinely gut-wrenching. Fail to save someone in one episode? You’re probably gonna hear about it in a later one. The series does a good job of making your choices seem like they matter, in particular in regards to Clementine. How you’ve acted around her culminates in the final chapter. It’s excellent to see the little things you’ve said and done making an impact.

2012-11-21_00018Special attention must be paid to the voice acting, which is fantastic. Dave Fennoy voices Lee and does a terrific job bringing everything from soft-spoken words of comfort to a friend who’s lost everything to panic-stricken bouts of profanity a very genuine gravitas. Also of note (and some credit goes to the writers too) to Melissa Hutchison for voicing Clementine and NOT making her the annoying tag-along kid that we’ve seen in so many games, but rather a genuine character that makes us think about how our actions affect others.

The game is not without its problems, however- both technical and creative problems are apparent in the game’s release. The glitches can be as innocuous as occasional slowdown to as serious as saved games disappearing or choices not registering properly.  While my playthrough on Windows has been mostly without a hitch, a friend of mine playing on his Mac had a major choice in Episode 1 failing to register.

2012-10-29_00001More to my annoyance, though, is Episode 4. Before Episode 5 came out, Episode 4 had me worried that the ending was going to slide downhill. It features a very weak plot without any real direction- it just feels like filler taking time before the set-up for the final chapter. This isn’t helped by the fact that it features incredibly weak writing and an annoying new character that appears out of nowhere to steal the spotlight. There were also two Family Guy-esque Star Wars reference jokes shoehorned in for…I have no idea why. I found them jarring, and in both cases they dragged their scene to a halt. These stuck out like a sore thumb in a series that otherwise takes itself pretty seriously. Other than a few scenes early on, the entirety of Episode 4 is disposable.

In spite of this, The Walking Dead is still an excellent game and one of the best dramatic games released in some time, and Episode 4 notwithstanding features some excellent writing and storytelling. It’s good enough that I may even call it my game of the year. It’s well worth purchasing, and I can’t wait to see what Season 2 brings.2012-10-29_00003

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s