Review: The Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale Games has a lot to prove. After its last title, Jurassic Park: The Game, flopped spectacularly, the company will be pinning a lot on its adaption of the hit comic book series, The Walking Dead.

NameThe Walking Dead: The Game
Summary:You’ll have to use your brain more than your trigger finger.
Games Info:Developer: Telltale Games; Publisher: Telltale Games
Test Platform:PC

Telltale Games has a lot to prove. After its last title, Jurassic Park: The Game, flopped spectacularly, the company will be pinning a lot on its adaption of the hit comic book series, The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead: The Game is set in the weeks before the comic book series begins. The comics’ protagonist, Rick Grimes, isn’t present, and we’re instead following the story of a man named Lee Everett. At the start of the game, Lee is handcuffed in the back of a police car. There’s a lot of chatter on the radio about riots in Atlanta, Georgia, but the officer driving the car ignores it. His job is to safely transport Lee, who’s accused of murder.

It’s hard to go on without spoiling anything, so let’s just say the officer doesn’t do a great job of protecting and serving.

As the story goes on, Lee has to make some tough decisions. These decisions have an impact on where the game’s story goes – some of them have a big impact. During zombie attacks, you’ll be forced to choose between different people to save. More interestingly, though, what you say to people will influence the storyline and how they perceive you. For example, Lee finds himself looking after a child. When someone assumes Lee’s the child’s father, you have to finish lee’s sentence: “I’m not her dad, I’m...” You can choose between trailing off, saying you’re the babysitter, saying you’re a neighbour, or telling them you’re “just some guy”.

In my attempt to make Lee as honest as possible, I had him choose the latter option. Unfortunately, saying Lee was “just some guy” walking around with a small child made nearly every other character assume he was a paedophile. As such, I had to spend time talking to different characters and regaining the trust of those who were suspicious of Lee. I learned that it was better to lie early on.

The Walking Dead: The Game is far more of an adventure game than an action game, at least in its first episode, A New Day. You spend a lot more time walking around, talking to other people and making hard decisions than you do actually fighting zombies. This might disappoint some people, but frankly, I thought it was much cooler that way. It’s more important for you to make good choices than to have good aim. The Walking Dead more closely resembles an old-school point-and-click adventure game than Left 4 Dead.

The fact that decision making is such an integral part of the game also makes it fit better into the comic book universe. The Walking Dead comics are not about zombies – not really – they’re about people who are struggling to survive in a brutal, post-apocalyptic environment. The zombies are almost incidental.

The art style of the game is actually rather cool – again, resembling a comic book – but that said, the graphics aren’t exactly spectacular. There are plenty of jagged edges, and during cutscenes the game would sometimes stall, although it never did during action sequences. My PC is well above spec, so there’s no good reason for the stalling.

The game also doesn’t stretch all the way up to 1080p, which was a bit disappointing as I have a 1080p screen. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, however, especially considering that The Walking Dead: The Game never pretends to be a blockbuster release.

One disappointment in A New Day is that the sound is nothing special, although this probably won’t bother most people. The zombies are well voice-acted, but the characters? Not so much. The music was barely noticeable through the whole game, too – it does nothing to create a sense of urgency or foreboding. The sound effects, on the other hand, were pretty good.

Currently, The Walking Dead: The Game is only available for PC in New Zealand. I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether the game will get a console release at all. First I heard it was set for an XBLA release on 27 April, but it’s not up yet. The game was refused classification in Australia, so it can be sold on a worldwide store like Steam, but not on consoles. That rule may wind up applying here by default if the publishing arm of Telltale don’t bother to have it classified separately for New Zealand.

If you do have a PC that can run the game, and you enjoy the TV show or comics, I’d definitely recommend picking The Walking Dead: The Game up. Future episodes will be released monthly, and if they’re anything like the first one, they’ll provide you with a game that’s a little bit different from the regular zombie shooter fare.

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Tags post-apocalypticAdventurewalking deadapocalypsezombie

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Siobhan Keogh

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