Let’s just get this out of the way from the start – Jurassic Park wasn’t a very good game. While Telltale are the best in the league when it comes to cranking out traditional point and click adventure games, their attempt at crafting a more action orientated title left a lot to be desired. For that reason many have wondered whether or not Telltale’s take on The Walking Dead would do the graphic novel or even the TV show justice – but as it turns out, our fears were completely unfounded. Not only is Walking Dead: The Game a rich and emotional adventure title, it’s an evolutionary take on the genre that managed to keep me engrossed for the entire two hours it took to complete.
If you’re a fan of the AMC drama or (preferably) the Robert Kirkman comics you’ll truly get the most out of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. While the game isn’t canonical, it does closely follow its source material and features many callbacks that fans will appreciate. You’ll still get the chance to meet the likes of Herschel and Glenn but several new characters are introduced throughout and there are several divergences which make for a better interactive experience. Seeing new takes on familiar characters is great and being able to interactive with them and witness their morbid desperation first-hand is genuinely exciting. On the other hand – If this is your introduction to the melancholic world of Walking Dead you’ll be pleased to hear that prior knowledge of the series isn’t essential. The game casts you as an entirely new character and the game’s fantastic script and great dialog will keep you captivated all the same!
Here you play as Lee Everett, a character shrouded in mystery whom you’ll eventually make your own. The game kicks off with Lee being carted off to jail for a murder that he may or may not have committed. However, before Lee makes it to the big house he finds himself in the midst of a zombie outbreak which conveniently allows him to escape. I won’t reveal much about the game’s story beyond this point but it’s entirely possible for you to forge some true-to-life relationships and development emotional attachments not often found in this medium.
As with many story-driven games, Walking Dead allows you to make choices that will affect the way others perceive you. The fact that Lee’s history is also unknown to you as a player adds an interesting element to way you interactive with others. If you believe that Lee is innocent of his previous charge then the best course of action may be to tell a few white lies here and there, however telling too many lies might diminish the trust that your fellow survivors have in you. To make thinks even more intense, characters will often remember the actions you take and the tidbits of information you choose to divulge, meaning something that you do or say in episode 1 could potentially help or hinder you in an upcoming episode.
As far as gameplay goes, The Walking Dead is undoubtedly Telltale’s most ambitious games to date. By giving you direct control over your character, presenting you dialog wheels and forcing you to partake in quick times events – this game feels like a generation above the developers previous titles. The Walking Dead is more “Heavy Rain” than “Sam & Max” and in this case, that’s a good thing!
The game is also surprisingly violent which may surprise some Telltale fans. Don’t let the cell-shaded visuals or comic book aesthetics fool you – this game is for mature audiences only!
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Telltale Games.