Game Review: Telltate’s The Walking Dead Episodes 1-3

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I killed a man.

I should clarify. I virtually killed a man. It was raining, and he had been threatening the people I was with. He ambushed me and I backed him into a corner, after which he stepped into a bear trap.

Then, I finished the job by shoving a pitchfork through his chest.

The way I looked at it was this: if I hadn’t killed him, the zombies would have.

Developer Telltale Games has been an industry leader in terms of episodic gaming with huge franchises under their guidance (Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and Law & Order, to name a few). Telltale has nailed the format: a video game story is told across several installments. Their games are more narrative in nature, with gameplay unfolding similarly to classic adventure games.

Yet, I feel the adventure game comparison isn’t quite apt. The Walking Dead game plays like an interactive story. So much of the gameplay involves interacting with other characters in the story by talking with them and then making decisions about what to do next. While the past of Lee Everett, the game’s main character, has been clearly defined, his future is up to your interpretation. Thus, allowing the players to have Lee make choices that they, themselves might make.

And those choices? As both Walking Dead the comic and Walking Dead the television show have proved – there are no easy choices. However, those choices have an incredibly different impact when I’m making those choices. These choices matter, as characters remember what you have and haven’t said – and those decisions can come back and make a negative impact in terms of your interaction between other survivors.

For so long, games have strived to make choice matter. The Walking Dead is not only providing the answer to that question, but providing fans with a worthy extension of the comic universe, with a story that’s uniquely yours. It’s giving gamers ownership.

And that’s something special. And the fact it’s all taking place within a playground that Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard have shaped and created is even better.

Early onto the third episode, Lee and one of the other survivors are on a supply run when a woman runs out into the middle of the road. The woman, screaming for help, draws a mass of walkers toward her. You have a choice: shoot her and put her out of her misery, but reveal your location, or, let her get eaten and stay hidden.

What would you do?

 

Episodes 1 – 3 of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead are now available for Windows PC, Max OSX, iPad, Xbox Live and the Playstation Network.

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