04 December 2012

The Walking Dead (Season 1) PC game review

Telltale Games who are specializing in episodic point and click adventure games, famous for their revival of Sam & Max and more recently the Tales of Monkey Island, have made a game based on the Walking Dead comics.

With the last episode, Episode 5, of season 1 released a couple of days ago I felt it was a good time to give a full review of this game (I specifically wanted to see how episode 5 ended before writing a review).

For those unfamiliar with "The Walking Dead", it's a comic about a zombie apocalypse and follows a small group of survivors in the years that follow the end of civilization as we know it.  Over 100 issues have been released so far and the comic has been released roughly on a monthly basis since 2003. It's really good. There's also a TV adaptation broadcasted on AMC, currently running its 3rd season.

The game is not a direct adaptation of the story and characters like the TV show, instead there is a completely new cast and different events for us to follow. The point and click take may sound like a bad choice for a zombie apocalypse themed game but it works remarkably well. The puzzles are often straightforward, there are no whacky combinations like in classic Lucasarts games - the game is first and foremost heavy on story and character development. It may at times be perceived as if you are playing an interactive movie rather than a game. This feeling is especially true for the 5th episode which I found to be the weakest of them all for many reasons.

However most of the time the game is evenly paced with dialogue options, timed critical choices, split second life and death decisions that affect the game in the long run, puzzles and quick time events. The graphics are very stylized and it looks like an animated comic. At first I thought it took away from the horror factor, but it turns out that the game creates a good enough atmosphere and mood that the graphics don't matter.

The plot is roughly "survive", but each episode adds to the story and purpose of the group depicted in the game and explores their long term plans. Perhaps the most interesting of elements in the game is the permanent consequences based upon your choices. The game boasts that your choices will affect how things play out, though this is in truth not fully true. While your choices have long and short term consequences they are not as diverse or radically different as one would like. It's actually more of an illusion, but if you can look past this and just enjoy the story this too shouldn't bother you. The majority of the episodes are very tense and filled with excellent content and tough moral choices - it is in fact most of the time surprisingly good. The weakest episodes are without doubt episode 1 which is slow and comes off as not really knowing where it is heading and episode 5 which concludes the story of "season 1".

As episode 1 may be "meh", episode 5 was both extremely short and very on rails and the closest to a interactive movie as any of the episodes get. The ending and twist also felt forced and rushed. Hopefully season 2 will bring back the interesting story elements and tension of episode 2,3 and 4.

It's hard to recommend this game straight away because it does not fully cater to the point and click adventure fans as there is too little pure "point and click adventure" content. It's quite low on action, there isn't much of a dialogue tree whenever you have conversations and the consequences of your actions are many times just "cosmetic". Still, the story or at least the middle part of the 3 episodes mentioned, was for me very interesting and I figure that if you are a fan of the Walking Dead you could  give this game a try. It's not flawless, but it is far from bad, and indeed at times very good.


7.5/10

2 comments:

  1. Great review - I featured episode one on my blog a while ago and loved it,must admit, I haven't tried any of the later episodes yet. I will endeavour to do so, though ;)

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  2. A very good read. A few people have recommended this game to me so I may give it a hot one day :)

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