#1018 The Walking Dead

Posted: 10th May 2018 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

692nd played so far

Genre: Adventure
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 2012
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games

On other blog, I have written about reading the Walking Dead comic and watching the same TV series. The game is the third medium the series has done well in.

Telltale Games first became known for their Sam & Max and Monkey Island sequels, set up as shorter adventures that tied into a larger season plot. They did so for this zombies series as well and created their most acclaimed series – one I’ve mostly been avoiding because it was coming up on the blog. It’s time to complete the trifecta now.

Our Thoughts

While the comic and TV show follow the same storyline, the Walking Dead video game takes its own route. Starting at the moment of the zombie outbreak – some time before the other two – you’re a convict who gets his freedom thanks to a surprise run-in with a zombie. Throughout the five chapters, you do your best to survive while you take care of Clementine, a young girl you find early on who joins you and trusts you to bring her to her parents.

Throughout, the zombie threat looms, larger at some times than others. However, the real conflict comes from other humans, whether it’s because they are directly opposed to you or because they travel with you while you need to see whether you can keep them happy. It suits the themes of the series (next to the violence, which feels less in this installment). Throughout, as you might do in this situation, you travel with a small group of people. They join and leave – or more often get killed – as time goes on while your choices determine parts of where the story goes. It’s an interesting system and while a lot of it loops back, the responsiveness is fairly strong – and where it isn’t it’s because you are playing as a strong predefined character.

This is a game that thrives on its writing – its graphics are fine, but not amazing, and mostly are slightly exaggerated, enough to bring across the effects. They create a slight disconnect with the violence, which is still shocking, but not as much as the show does, and it’s nice how the gore isn’t as fetishized. The writing, though, is strong, with some strong characters that are very consistent between the writers of the different installments. Seeing some familiar names as writers help, with part of the staff going on to create the brilliant Firewatch later on, but I get the feeling they got a lot of space to take it in the right direction.

Another side effect of this is that although it’s an adventure, the game has few puzzles. At the most, you may need to find the right item quickly enough to avoid being killed, but mostly you talk your way through and determine how you would respond to everything that happens. Getting a puzzle ‘wrong’ often means a different choice in the story, rather than failing to progress. It feels like interactive storytelling at its best.

Final Thoughts

So the game elements here obviously extend beyond the even more story driven games we see these days, but it’s the story and the way your choices change it that matter here. The big decisions only happen twice in each episode, but you really feel how much they matter, and the smaller decisions feel like they resonate throughout as well. It’s heavy to play – not something you just jump in to relax after a heavy day at work – but it really feels it pays off.