Videogame Reviews The Walking Dead

Published on January 31st, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley

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Telltale’s The Walking Dead

It’s been a while since I last posted, sometimes it can be hard to override your day’s events to write or even think, so it goes.

2012’s Game of the Year is one of the “never-was-dead” Adventure genre’s crowning jewels, and has been the subject of much debate involving racial depiction in videogames, (being that it actually depicts other races) but with it having been released in dreary old 2012, has The Walking Dead been outshone by the new and spunky 2013?
No. Because some people have an attention spanning longer than a fucking year.

The game is based on the original comic ‘The Walking Dead‘ by Robert Kirkman, which basically nobody had ever heard of or given two fresh craps about because it’s another bloody zombie thing without even the advantage of a special incentive to watch it, you know, fantastic pair-ups like; funghi and children, black people and children or just defenstration and children. The comic began serialisation in 2003 and is ongoing thanks to the irritating popularity when American TV got their igneous hands on it, channel AMC picked it up for a television adaptation in 2010, which is also still going despite the second season comprising solely of them hanging around a farm without any animals on.

Initially released for the PC and digital versions for home consoles, the game is a point and click with fully 3D functionality, it is split into episodes and released periodically through the year – Telltale’s traditional format. They were ported and bug-fixed for the console physical retail releases, which was released ahead of the upcoming  ‘The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct”  game, probably aware that the gamers that would play it, would need some consolation beforehand.

The main character is Lee Everett, a man from Georgia who is being transferred to prison after being convicted of murder. The apocalypse has just begun when the police vehicle is swerved off the road by a jaywalking zombie, where Lee finds his escape. Lee eventually finds a young girl called Clementine who is waiting for her parents to come home, she accompanies Lee and the game focuses on the maturation of their relationship.

Walking Dead Lee

The game serves as a portent for the style used in two of 2013’s most lauded games, Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us, in that it uses two characters which have a father-daughter relationship to inform the development of a game and its mechanics in a new and innovative way. Well less the mechanics on this one, as Clementine has little input with your gaming outside of character dialogues.

The character is controlled in 3rd person and you are able to interact with objects and people, it looks much like an action game, however without battle capabilities and health systems. Peril is used effectively with dangerous situations hinging on decision-making, using items you have acquired on objects/people or Quick time events, which involve pressing a button to interact with an object or repeatedly hammering a button.
The online features only include stats at the end of each chapter, showing the percentage of people who made the same choices as you did.

The game is dotted with decisions which can change the outcome of some of the plotline, depending on how much of a dick you are. The choices are given to you either in conversation with other non-playable characters or in situations, this can lead to characters not continuing the play-through with you or altering the story in some ways, although it doesn’t make huge differences to the over-arcing plot,the personalisation of the experience is the largest and most forefront aspects when playing it, meaning that you will pay a lot of attention to your own decision-making and how you play the game.
I was left stranded due to some of my ‘seemingly’ negative choices throughout which led to none of the characters liking me, which is a different story to tell to another person who had played the game.

I have previously written a little about The Walking Dead as an example of one of few games that portray black people without lots of negative stereotypes, Lee is a fantastic character who has been carefully created to resemble not only a realistic person, but an engaging and empathetic character, unlike most sops in games. He is my favourite character in the game by far which is no small compliment when all of the characters are fun and more than just typical zombie-bait and drama-starters.

Clementine

The overall writing is of a high standard, with many smaller plotlines and layers to characters without damaging the established personalities, you might like a character early on  and grow to despise them later and vice-versa. The episodic format gives a steady pacing, and are fairly short and contained at about 2 hours apiece, ideal for short or long gaming sessions and can be finished in about 10 to 12 hours. The standard length of an adventure game is usually a lot shorter, however this manages to feel like it isn’t too long or dragged out, while also provided good amount of playtime per pound, which is somewhat important given how short and sour some games like Killer is Dead are.

There is a sequel series of episodes that have begun release centered around the aftermath of the first, cementing the success of the franchise and is still very popular now.

The Walking Dead is a nifty game, that excels the genre and reinvigorated interest, the story and characters are solid and you don’t want them to be brutally gored all the time, the visuals are stylistic, fitting and a whole lot better than any triple A game that came out in 2012. Right now it’s great value for money if you’re a tight git and well worth the time invested if you’re a busy one.

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