The Walking Dead Review

By Alex Rubens - Posted May 03, 2012

A New Day is an exceptional start to a five-part series that has me completely hooked and engrossed in a world that I can't even begin to imagine, let alone speculate about where it will go next.

The Pros
  • Beautiful hand-drawn art-style
  • Immensely deep and emotional characters
  • Tough gameplay decisions that change the way the game plays out
  • Perfectly captures what makes The Walking Dead so great
The Cons
  • The gore might be enough to put some players off

The Walking Dead Review:

There’s something to be said about a game developer that takes on the videogame adaptation of one of the biggest franchises out there right now, knowing full well that they have to make it amazing to satisfy fan’s desires and make up for the mistake that was their last title. Yet despite this monstrous feat, Telltale Games still decided to take on The Walking Dead and I’ll be damned if they didn’t do a brilliant job setting up the series with an amazing first episode.

If you’re familiar with Telltale’s take on adventure games, the same formula applies here. The Walking Dead is a beautifully drawn episodic point-and-click adventure game, with A New Day being the first of five episodes. The title is very foreshadowing of the events about to unfold, but then again, I guess that’s the idea. A New Day clocked in right around three hours for me, so it’s safe to say that the full experience will end up running close to fifteen hours. These three hours are exceptionally story and character dependent, as is the nature of the game, so I’ll keep things basic and avoid most spoilers.

 

 

Look, in the road!

The game opens on Lee Everett, a convicted felon on his way to the big house, who is stuck with a ride from the world’s most talkative police officer. As they’re driving down the Atlanta highway, the officer can’t help but question Lee, claiming that he believes he’s innocent and all sorts of mumbo-jumbo. Out of nowhere, the car hits a person walking out the middle of the highway and flips into the embankment. Lee come to and escapes, only to find the officer dead on the ground – or so he thinks. The officer springs to life and starts clawing at him. Lee has to make the choice to shoot him, not knowing what is happening. The shot echoes throughout the embankment and, unfortunately for Lee, calls a horde of ‘walkers’ right toward him.

Without giving any more of the story away, he must find help and get away from Atlanta, all while coming to terms with what is happening. He meets plenty of characters from the comics and TV show along the way, but it’s clear that this is meant to be a separate group of people. More importantly, he meets Clementine –a small child hiding in a tree fort– whom he befriends and promises to take care of until they can find her parents.

The walking dead

There aren’t many child characters in games who manage to be anything but an annoying crutch, Clementine is the exception. Her relationship with Lee is so extremely personable and heartfelt that I felt the immediate need to protect her and make my decisions based on what is best for her. Sure, he isn’t her father, but as the story progresses, they start to treat each other as such and I found it to be one of the most ‘human’ parts of the game (no pun intended).

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Decisions, Decisions

The core gameplay of the adventure game remains in tact, you walk around clicking on items in the world to solve obstacles that are put in front of you, with quicktime events that require you to stomp a zombie’s face in or choose which member of the crew you want to save. But there’s another layer of gameplay that makes actions much more meaningful and actually alter the way that you choose to play the game. Dialogue between characters is a significant portion of the gameplay and the way that the story plays out will change depending on the choices that you make. It isn’t as simple as “choose X to have it play one way, choose Y for the other” either.

These dialogue options fit right into the conversation at hand, but often have you choosing very definitive sides. In one instance, I sided with a particular character that directly contradicted what another was for. It didn’t seem like anything came out of that, but later in the episode, the character that I sided against betrayed me and left me for dead, barely leaving enough time for my friend to come back and save me. This was a situation that could have played out differently and will, depending on which side you choose to take. Throughout conversation, answers that seem meaningless trigger other characters to make mental notes (designated by a little notification) and these can change the outcome of your character’s path.

THe Walking Dead

WALKERS!

Telltale wants to so strongly get across that life is full of difficult choices that can come back to haunt you. It’s filled with situations that might not seem like much, but they can mean the world to others. The Walking Dead is all about these moments in this unfortunate situation that these characters are in and how they react to them. There’s a deeper level of humanity tied to the characters that makes it extremely easy to become emotional toward them in the way that we would in real life. A New Day is an exceptional start to a five-part series that has me completely hooked and engrossed in a world that I can’t even begin to imagine, let alone speculate about where it will go next.

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Editor's Note: The Walking Dead was reviewed using a PC copy of the game; however, we also played the PS3 and 360 versions, and found no differences. If further investigation reveals any differences between the PC and 360/PS3 of the game, this review will be updated to reflect those differences.