The Walking Dead Season 1 Review

And suddenly.... ZOMBIES!

  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Publisher: Telltale Games
  • Release Date: 24 April 2012

How on Earth did I end up with the Walking Dead? Well I managed to grab it during the Telltale Humble Bundle! But wait, you say, I thought you said you didn't like zombie games? And you would be right – under normal circumstances. However I did end up playing Deadlight since I've never heard of a zombie platformer before. I've never heard of a zombie adventure game before either which is what The Walking Dead game pretty much is. Couple that with generally positive comments via word-of-mouth and the fact it's made by Telltale Games (a company run by ex-Lucasarts developers) and you're bound to pique my interest.

Plot (5/5)
In first season of The Walking Dead, you play the role of Lee Everett, a professor of history from Atlanta who is also a convicted criminal on his way to prison. On his way there, the police car that is transporting him hits a "walker" (the term for zombies in The Walking Dead) and crashes. When Lee comes to, he finds that the officer has turned into a walker and after killing him stumbles across a house where a little girl is hiding called Clementine. The rest of the game involves Lee and Clementine on a trek across the U.S. state of Georgia, desperately trying to find sanctuary from the hordes of walkers.

Considering the zombie genre isn't usually renowned for their thought-provoking stories, the narrative in this is surprisingly good. And I'm not even a The Walking Dead fan! I did get the opportunity to watch a couple of episodes of it recently though and I must say both the game and the TV series are similar in that the zombies merely act as a plot device to explore how people react in the face of adversity when hope is in short supply. The ethical dilemmas faced in the series keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting to find out more.

While the story leads to more or less the same conclusion, there is a branching narrative in this game so conversations will be slightly different based on your relationships with other characters. There will even be parts of the game where you'll have different people accompanying you based on your past choices, so there is some variation even if it's an illusion of choice if you will.

Gameplay (3/5)
Some might deride the gameplay in The Walking Dead since it basically consists of very simple puzzles ala the adventure game genre incorporated with visual novel elements (e.g. conversations having an impact on character relationships) thrown in with a bit of Quick Time Events (QTEs) for action sequences. So the gameplay is pretty minimal but you play these games for the story anyway. And nothing will beat Dear Esther for sheer futility anyway.

So basically The Walking Dead is a Western take on the typically Japanese visual novel genre, except with zombies. And no hentai.

Gameplay and puzzles are much simpler compared to traditional point 'n' click adventures

Sound (4/5)
Voice acting is great but that's to be expected from veteran voice actors – the only issue I had was that the audio was sometimes too loud or too soft.

Music (4/5)
The game has a suitably atmospheric music soundtrack; while there are no memorable themes it is effective in setting the sombre, depressing mood to the game.

Graphics (4/5)
The graphics are probably the best I've seen in a Telltale game yet adopting a thick edges, comic-book style. The criticisms I have is that occasionally the framerate was a bit jumpy and background scenery tends to be of a low quality (quite noticeable right at the beginning of the game while driving down the highway).

Replay (3/5)
Originally, I was seriously considering replaying the game one more time to see how different choices affected the storyline although after seeing this chart decided against it. It would've been nice if there were a larger variety of achievements to encourage replays since the current crop are just basic completion of milestones (e.g. "Finished Episode 2 Act 2") and not tied with the characters or decisions made.

Polish (4/5)
Unfortunately, as it's a Telltale game, it uses the most recent Telltale Tool so the interface is a very console-friendly one, not a simple point ‘n' click adventure. The game also has the annoying Type 1 save system where progress is autosaved but you never know when the next save point is.

Score – 8/10

I'm not a big fan of zombie games but the story and the impact you can have on the story is that good it kept enticing me to come back for more. I can't wait to see what more is in store for the second season of The Walking Dead.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam or Telltale's website.

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