THE WALKING DEAD - EPISODES 1 -2 - REVIEW
When the dead start walking, start running.
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Sep 3, 2012 14:51 (Sep 3, 2012 14:51)
Written by: Alex
The Walking Dead?
The marriage of TellTale Games monthly production schedule with Kirkman’s "The Walking Dead" comic licence is perfect. Taking their quick iteration model of episodic development, the adventure game developer has managed to create a game that not only looks like the comics its based on but also includes much of their unique and chilling feel. Keeping the heavy leaning on social conflict over zombie action, it will be instantly recognisable to the comic or TV audience, even managing to call on a few familiar faces (and voices).
The Walking Dead the game tells a completely new story. While there is occasional overlap with the comic, for the most part the locations, characters and situation are new. Taking the role of Lee as the action begins I am in the back of a police car being transferred between jails. Lee is calm and pleasant, not denying his crimes and seemingly not a bad guy. His policeman driver comments on this, and it seems he knew the situation of Lee’s incarceration all too well. I didn’t however, which made answering questions about his past slightly odd. But what this did manage to do was introduce the conversation system and begin to give some idea of the kind of personality my Lee would have, kind or aggressive.
Police cars are quickly seen shooting past in the opposite direction, and then it all goes to hell. The car ends up crashed and there are zombies everywhere. From here Lee makes his way to town, where he meets Clementine (a young girl who has lost her parents). He takes her under his wing and the two head off to find more survivors.
The Walking Dead’s hook is its plot and strong characterisations. Dialogue choice and interacting with the well-realised characters makes up the bulk of the gameplay. And with the exception of a few ‘find the item, do the task’ puzzles (did you know even a small amount of ceramic will shatter glass? Something to do with its place on the hardness index) and action sequences all of the drama is created by how I answered questions for Lee, and peoples responses to them.
These choices are not limited to social niceties however. Selecting who to help, and what strategy to take also make for some of the key choices, and while there seem to be a number of decisions that (whatever the answer) lead you to the same conclusion, the promise that some of the choices will be remembered and make significant changes to the story is compelling. To add even a further layer to this the majority of questions are accompanied by a timer, adding an interesting time pressure to decisions. Often these leave very little time for consideration, meaning that quick reactions (and reading skills) are required unless you want to live with the default choices.
As if this wasn't enough to convince me to replay The Walking Dead it also offers another hook. Finishing the game it tells me how other players reacted, offering an interesting insight into the world.
It isn’t all conversation of course there is some action. Moving around the environments is relatively painless using direct character control (rather than the ‘point and click’ of some older Tell Tale titles). Combat is a little more nerve racking however, as on the few occasions I was confronted with a zombie I was created by a ‘not quite quick time event’ (NQQTE’s if you will).
These were both context and time sensitive, and with the situations the occurred being frequently nerve racking I occasionally found myself overwhelmed. The game restarted quickly in these situations, and the system gave a wonderful sense of being in control while at the same time panicked by the situation and the actions needing to be performed (though for some this could prove frustrating).