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Published October 4th 2012
Walking Dead has become a cultural phenomenon; starting in 2005 Robert Kirkman (Creator of Walking Dead) envisioned the series in comic book form. These graphic novels depicted a global apocalypse where the dead rose from the graves seeking the taste of flesh. Unlike many other takes on this global catastrophe, Kirkman gave the zombies a back seat and allowed some stellar character development and portrayed the slow fall of society brilliantly. There were no good people anymore, only survivors. Telltale Games has been able to capture this essence with its own story set in the comic book world of Walking Dead.
The story begins when we meet Lee Everit (The protagonist) in the back of a police car being taken to answer for his crime of murder. During the trip the officer driving hits one of the "Walking Dead" and their car crashes into the woods, this is where the zombie outbreak and game begins.
Interestingly enough the game is not your typical shooter, known for its point & click adventure titles Telltale Games has been able to produce a unique spin on the series. You explore the world moving the mouse to be able to interact with certain aspects of the environment ranging from opening doors to speaking with other characters; this works fluidly and is incorporated into some very intense action scenes. These scenes are able to produce actual terror within the player, as you struggle to make the right move in order to survive, this is everything you would expect from the comics and they pull it off to perfection.
Interacting with other characters is designated to the number keys, within certain conversations you are given up to 4 choices of dialogue and a certain time limit to choose what you decide to say. These decisions actually effect how characters see you on a personal level and may determine who is friend or foe. Having these options allows plenty of incentive for multiple play throughs in order to see all the options and how they played out in comparison.
You also take control of Lee himself using the A, S, D & W keys to move around certain environments of the game world. This however is one of the few control schemes that feel clumsy, luckily this is barely implemented during the episode, but it clearly stands out when it comes into play.
The art style feels as if the graphic novel has jumped off the page and put into motion, it looks exactly how you would envision the world to look like in action. It's gorgeous in its own dark style; this approach helps to make the characters feel like real personalities. Another strong point is the character development. Lee takes care of an 8 year old girl named Clementine, her parents are missing and she is alone in the world.
You genuinely want to keep her safe, with some excellent dialogue between both characters you are able to delve deeper into their past which makes them more interesting. Clementine represents the innocent mind if the group, young, hopeful and somehow still cheerful in this zombie infested future. I did find some of the voice acting to come across quite bland, though most moments especially within a certain confrontation sound very well executed, the quality level ranges through the episode.
Though character development and player choice play a big part, there are still very gruesome scenes involving zombies. Even though the art style downplays the violence, these moments still manage to shock and provide that feeling of desperation as humanity collapses around you. Music is used sparingly to create some very powerful emotional scenes; this was one of my favourite aspects of the episode as I could feel the music providing the perfect backdrop to deliver these memorable moments.
Telltale has been able to find the true essence of Walking Dead and has allowed this series this make the jump into the video game medium almost flawlessly. As a Walking Dead fan the world felt true to the series, the character development was a priority and the emotional peril of the situation for these characters is brilliantly portrayed. Sure this adventure game may be lacking in difficulty when it comes to puzzles, but this intense experience makes up for it. The entire season will provide 5 episodes at only $5 a piece, for such a low price the quality is amazing and the different choices allow for multiple play throughs.
Walking Dead has been able to make its mark in many different forms (TV, Comic books) and now has been able to leave its mark within the video game spectrum. This is a strong debut title in the season and the intensity of the situation can only continue to increase during further episodes.