When Robert Kirkman took on the task of creating an intriguing black-and-white comic book series centered on the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, he effectively succeeded in making an emotionally gripping storyline about humanity filled with drama, unforgiving violence and suspense. Amazingly enough, what started out as strictly a comic series eventually blossomed into several video game and TV show adaptations.
While it’s great to see a franchise like The Walking Dead make it’s way into so many different mediums, I feel it is absolutely important to explain why the critically acclaimed video game adaptation is superior to the TV show in virtually every way imaginable. So without further delay, here are a few of my thoughts on why Telltale’s The Walking Dead is arguably the best way to experience the fictional world right now.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember one of the most obvious differences between a television show and a video game. AMC’s The Walking Dead typically runs an hour long and usually that time is cut short thanks to commercials. While this may not seem like a big deal to the viewer, the subject matter expressed in the show is deeply intense and engaging at times. Taking a sudden break from all this could lead to a viewer getting sidetracked and instead opting to watch something else if the episode isn’t quite appealing enough.
With Telltale’s episodic approach to The Walking Dead, the player is fully immersed in each episode from beginning to end. The developers worked tirelessly to keep the story intact by making choice an important element of the game. This doesn’t necessarily mean that AMC isn’t taking the same approach with their own show, but this is just a much more interactive way of doing things. At the heart of it all, the player should feel both powerful and vulnerable at the same time and this dynamic alone succeeds in keeping their attention every step of the way.
Better Character Development
Season four of AMC’s The Walking Dead dived headfirst into developing several key characters throughout as the group experienced tragedy before being separated and reunited again by the end of the season. This lead to several episodes focusing on individual personalities as opposed to the big group of favorites we are all used to seeing. While I applaud the creators for taking this creative approach to the story, I feel the risky move definitely made some viewers bored. The format issues I mentioned above also contributed to this and I guarantee some female fans probably skipped over a few episodes because Rick and Daryl weren’t on them.
One of the strengths of Telltale’s series is that they do a phenomenal job developing characters and using the story to further explain their motives and actions. Many of the choices that Clementine makes are tied to who she trusts the most and in the end someone always gets angry for being overlooked. This is a very realistic response as to what would normally happen in our everyday lives and it’s a fair representation of the notion that you can’t please everyone.
It’s also worth emphasizing that by playing this game you develop a deep emotional connection to several of the core characters on the cast. One could argue that you get the same raw emotions by watching the TV Show and growing to like and hate key figures throughout each season. However, being able to actually have an ongoing dialogue and interaction with a character always trumps the other approach in my eyes. You instantly feel like you’re a part of the world and your choices are much more meaningful and impactful to both yourself and others.
More Risks Taken
Ever since The Walking Dead first debuted on AMC, the creators have been very conservative about the risks they take on the show. This is partially due to the growing popularity of characters such as Rick and Daryl who may occasionally get beaten up badly but never killed. While the deaths of Dale, Hershel, Meryl and Lori where all emotional in their own right, they were never surprising in the grander scale of things. It’s a known fact that they are afraid to kill off popular characters from the show because they don’t want to risk losing ratings. Funny enough, Game of Thrones did the exact opposite with Eddard Stark and it’s one of the main reasons why this is still the most talked about show on HBO right now.
Telltale upped the ante on this concept by allowing you to play as Lee Everett in the first season of The Walking Dead. After developing an unbreakable bond with Clementine, Lee is bitten by a walker and eventually dies at the very end of the last episode. Once season two starts, you are now playing as Clementine and making use of all the things that Lee taught you in the previous season. The execution of this idea as a whole is nothing short of brilliant and it’s a testament to just how phenomenal this game truly is. While I’m sure Telltale had their own reservations about killing Lee, they stuck to their guns and ended up delivering a powerful and meaningful conclusion to his story. Kirkman is known for being very brutal and shocking in how he kills off his characters and AMC needs to fully embrace this idea within their own show to keep things interesting.
This concludes my own personal thoughts on why Telltale’s version of The Walking Dead is better than the TV show. While I fully support both the show and video game, I think it’s a bit misplaced to say that they are both equal in quality, content and execution. In truth both have their strengths and weaknesses, but I would argue that Telltale definitely has the better product of the two.
If you all had to choose, would you say the video game is better than the TV show or vice versa? Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on the matter and more in the comments section below.