22 June 2015

TellTale Games: The Walking Dead

I know when I mention Telltale, you're mind might immediately jump to their Game of Thrones game that seems to pop up all over twitter at the moment. But let's just back up to the 2012 game The Walking Dead (Season 1) which I only recently got around to playing. In short, if you haven't played this yet then get it, immediately. You have no idea what you're missing out on.

This review will be spoiler free. The only thing I will tell you is that I became an emotional wreck at the end of our play through. Seriously, there are very few games that crush me emotionally but it is so hard to not invest everything you have in these characters. They are believable, lovable and they go through so much. The series, as you can guess by the name, is based from Robert Kirkman's world of zombies he created in The Walking Dead graphic novels and you'll have no doubt at least heard of the TV series. Kirkman's ideas and type of zombies are the best when looking at how people survive in this situation (instead of fast sprinting zombies where its all about the chase) and with TellTales game, you get to be in that world.

"The Walking Dead is a five-part game series set in the same universe as Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book series. Play as Lee Everett, a convicted criminal, who has been given a second chance at life in a world devastated by the undead. With corpses returning to life and survivors stopping at nothing to maintain their own safety, protecting an orphaned girl named Clementine may offer him redemption in a world gone to hell."

So like I've said, the characters are wonderful, whether you deem them as good or bad they are believable. This is a decision based game so what you choose to do in the world has consequences and can affect your relationship with other characters. As you can imagine, in bigger groups not every one is going to agree so I found myself preferring certain characters just because I agreed with their ideas and values. The biggest relationship, for me at least, is the Lee-Clementine father-daughter combination, which can be seen as similar to Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us. I've only watched The Last of Us, but I still got heavily invested in that game and their relationship too. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the relationship between Lee and Clementine was so much more intense. It's a lot to do with the story and my participation in the events of the game, but I don't think I've reacted to a game like I did with TellTales The Walking Dead. I can barely look at a picture of them together without welling up and getting goosebumps.

You play as Lee and decide, as a character, what he says and does as you would expect. However, the best element of this game are the tough decisions. In each episode there are 5 decisions deemed "tough" because they only have two options and both lead to very different and potentially severe consequences that will change the story and accompanying companions. A lovely feature at the end of each episode is the statistics showing how many other players made the same decisions as you. Call me a stats nerd, but its nice to know you're not the only horrible human being that held a grudge against a character or thought a difficult decision was the right choice.

I played this on PC, the graphics are amazing (this is honestly my favourite style) and I never suffered lag or crashes. Below is the video trailer which will not only show the style and gameplay (yes, this is actually gameplay) but will also give you an idea of the situations you face.

The only thing that failed me was some of the action. Every video game I've played to date has taught me that timing is critical when it comes to certain events and activities. There were two moments in The Walking Dead when I realised that timing is not as big a deal in this game rather than just clicking the right point. For example, when killing a zombie you wouldn't have to wait till you were up close to take a swing because you weren't controlling that action. You just had to click the zombie to make the decision to kill it, which was possible to do from a safer distant. Yeah, there were a few times when I got eaten because I went with the instinct that I had to wait till the attack was closer, but luckily these games save all the time so I never lost much of my progress.

I've also went through all of Season 2 (and eagerly awaiting Season 3!) where you play as Clementine. There are some differences of course, you were Lee, a strong adult male people will listen to, so switching to a child should be a limitation. It isn't. Clementine is played a little differently, giving the option to dodge zombies which is more suited to her character then giving her, I don't know, big crowbars, axes or giant guns, but it makes more sense for her to dodge and defend or sneak instead of try to wipe out every zombie she comes up against. The stories and decisions in Season 2 are just as difficult as the first season, and with the passage of time (since this takes place around a year and a bit after the first season) it complicates relationships.

This has become one of my favourite games, and due to decision based gameplay, the idea of playing through again is so tempting. I imagine the story-line will follow some kind of foundation (i.e. they'll end up in the same places or maybe even if you save a character they'll find their inevitable doom somewhere else down the line) but I want to see what happens if I pick other options or side with other people. It feels like the game has limitless possibilities, especially when looking at character relationship building.

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  1. I've been really interested in this game. I've only heard great things about it, but I'm wondering if I'll like the story/choose your own adventure format rather than a FPS format like Left 4 Dead. Either way, it looks amazing.

    1. It is amazing and there is a lot of suspense building and action, of course its not the same as FPS because it's more click-action but definitely one to keep an eye on.