A couple nights ago I made a little post letting you guys know that Telltale Games' Walking Dead video game had been released (the first part at least), and I shared some thoughts after having played the very short demo that's available for download. Now that I've purchased and played the entire first episode, I wanted to expand on those thoughts a bit.
Just in case you didn't read that last post, the game is split up into five separate episodes, one to be released every month, with the first episode seeing release just this past week. So we're not dealing with a disc based game here, but rather one you purchase and download in places like the Playstation/X-Box Store or on your computer. Rather than being based on the TV series, the game is more based on the line of comic books, though Telltale has essentially created their own story with the game, rather than merely having players play through the motions of stuff they've already read. So the basic idea is that you play as a newly created character, Lee Everett, who you guide through the zombie apocalypse, meeting up with fellow survivors along the way (most are characters we've never met before, though familiar faces Hershel & Glenn do pop up!).
I think that about covers the game in a nutshell.
So yea, after playing the demo the other night I was compelled to purchase the first episode the following night, which I completed just last night. I got just about two hours out of game play out of the episode, which I'd say is pretty damn good considering it only cost a mere $4.99 to buy.
Now right off the bat I just want to say one thing, the same thing I'd tell you if you asked me whether or not you should check out the Walking Dead TV series; if you're looking for fast paced zombie killing action, look elsewhere.
Fitting in line with the tone of the Walking Dead comics/TV show, this game is very much character, relationship and emotion based, moreso than it is centered around killing zombies. So again, if it's action and oodles of head shots you're in the mood for, you should probably cuddle up with something like Dead Rising or Left 4 Dead instead. That said, much like the comics & show, there is plenty of zombie killing action in here too, and it's pretty intense and brutal. The game is just as a whole more about the characters and drama.
As I said in my little review of the demo, the interesting thing about this game is that it's very interactive, allowing your actions and decisions to literally guide the course of your own personal game. In other words, you're not just doing what you have to do in order to complete it, as is the case with most games, but you're actually choosing what it is that you do. You choose what objects in your environment to interact with and you choose what to say to other characters you come across, and even who to save when two characters are about to be feasted on by zombies, with your choices dictating your relationships with other characters and even what you learn about your own character. If you want him to be a cold-hearted dickhead, you can make him a cold-hearted dickhead. If you want him to be a big ole sap who helps others, you can make him that. The game is your zombified oyster.
That's the whole basis and strong suit of the game, as you literally feel like you're directly involved with everything that's happening. I've only played through the episode once, so I can't say how much different choices truly do affect the course of the game, and I've got a feeling that you're made to feel like you have more of an influence on all that than you really do, but nevertheless I love the whole idea of interactive gaming. If I'm being honest I'm not much of a gamer, so maybe this is something that's been around forever, but to me it felt like a whole new gaming experience.
Now another thing I want to point out is that each episode of the game is less like a traditional game and plays more like an episode of an animated Walking Dead series, that you get to interact with and take control of every so often. What I mean by that is that much of the game is very cut-scene based, with your participation in it only coming when you're asked to make a decision. There are portions where you do get to roam free and actually play the game, albeit in very limited environments, but for the most part it's like watching an animated movie that you're taking part in. So again, if you're looking for more of a traditional game, you may be a bit disappointed and bored.
As for me personally, I had a blast with the game and will most definitely be purchasing all future episodes as they come out. When I was a kid I absolutely loved those 'Choose Your Own Adventure Books' and as I got older, and found myself spending a lot of time in front of a computer, I became hardcore addicted to those 'Room Escape games', and I'm happy to say that this game is a nice little fusion of the two. The fact that those two elements are mixed in with something like The Walking Dead is a true treat for me personally, so I'd have to go ahead and give this one a big ole Freddy In Space Seal of Approval. It may not be as fun or action packed as a game like Dead Rising, but let's be real here, shooting zombies over and over gets old real quick. With a solid story backing it up, I personally see myself having fun longer with this game and getting more invested in it than one where it's just nonstop zombie action. Seems only right, given that's exactly the way I feel about the show.
One last thing I want to mention is that at the end of each episode, the game lists off stats of decisions you made during the episode, comparing them to the decisions that other gamers made. In other words if you chose to let character A die and instead save character B, it'll say something like 'you and 54% of players chose to save character B.' Thought that was pretty cool, as it kinda highlights the fun and interactive nature of the game. The fact that every player experiences their own version of the events (to a point), which they can then compare to friends who also play, is pretty neat. Creates a whole fun little community out of the game. "Duuuude, you let the little kid die? You're a fuckin' dick, man!!"
Anyways. Yea. Definitely give the first episode a purchase and check it out for yourself. If you're a fan of the comics and/or TV show, I can almost guarantee you're gonna dig it. We've gotten to read and watch the story unfold, and now we get to play it and be in it. Nothing to not love about that!
If nothing else, the game should give us all something to pass the time with until Walking Dead returns to AMC this October!