Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Story, New Characters, Same Old Walkers... The Walking Dead: Episode 1 Review

TellTale Studios is no stranger to the point and click adventure genre lately. Their last efforts into licensed properties where Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. While their Back to the Future series was pretty good, Jurassic Park was a bit of a disappointment. TellTale is back on the adventure game once again with another popular franchise, especially it being a recent phenomenon. What I'm referring to is the Walking Dead series. This is a beginning of a new story that is a prequel to the comics, not the TV show that is AMC, and only the first episode of five that will come out monthly. This first episode, titled A New Day, does a great job establishing the main story of the outbreak and characters along with setting things up for future episodes. Just by the end of this episode, I already feel attached to these characters and I eagerly await what is next for them especially with the choices I made.

You play as Lee Everett, who was in a cop car because of a killing, but the walker outbreak begins as the cop crashes into one causing an accident to occur. From there on, Lee is on his own trying to survive this whole mess. Along the way, he meets Clementine, a young girl surviving alone because her parents were on vacation. Of course Lee doesn't want to leave a kid alone, so she joins along hoping she finds her parents. Throughout this whole season of the Walking Dead, we will see how the relationship of these two characters will be improving. As you meet more survivors (some of them will be familiar from the comics and the show), there are Walkers just wanting to ruin the party at any spot you're staying at. There will be intense moments throughout this season and already in this first episode, which are as intense as the comics and the TV show, as Lee has to be willing to make the quick tough decisions when things get hairy.

If you're familiar with TellTale's past adventure games, you'll be fine when playing The Walking Dead. This is not just another zombie action game as this is a traditional adventure game with story as the big emphasis. Another major factor with these games are the decisions you will make. During dialogue trees, you only have a limited time to come up with an answer and some quotes can affect your relationship with the other survivors whether for good or bad. This ain't Mass Effect where can you think all day if you're not sure what to say during a dialogue true. This game will force you to make tough decisions during intense moments and they will stick throughout the whole season. If a certain character is dead because of such decision making, they're gone for good and  you have to live with it for the rest of the season. At least there are multiple save files if you're willing to experience different sides of the story saying different lines or keeping certain characters alive. This style of intense decision making is something I like a lot as it did put me in a tough spot unlike other games that have similar dialogue options.

When you have control of Lee, you do move him around, but it is still pretty point and click heavy when interacting with objects and other characters. There will be times that he has to deal with Walkers, as one wrong move means death as you go back to your last checkpoint. These scenes with Walkers are basically quicktime events as you wait for that timed button press to take them out. Adventure games like this are also known for their puzzles as this episode of the Walking Dead doesn't have much of them, but there are things that happen in a certain order because of getting the necessary items to proceed on. One major improvement from past TellTale games is that there is a reticle now on the fight stick like any shooter out today for Lee to look around to interact with objects faster.

Since this game is more related to the comics than the TV show, the graphics in the Walking Dead are cool as TellTale went with the comic book/cel-shaded like art style. The characters look great and their personalities do show during dialogue-heavy sequences. Even though the game runs at a consistent framerate, it does suffer from stuttering issues when they transition from scene to scene as if it is going to freeze at some point, but it doesn't. The voice cast is also remarkably good as well as the music when something crazy is going to happen.

TellTale has something special with The Walking Dead just by the first episode alone. They did a great job establishing the main plot and characters. You do feel for Lee as even though he might be a bad guy since he starts the game in a cop car, he is not that bad of a person trying to do things right. Now that he has to take care of Clementine, it just puts more pressure on him to survive and make the right decisions even though some of them will be tough. I love the decision making process in this game as it forces to be at a tough spot with limited time to come up with a response or an action that will affect relationships with other survivors or even keeping some of them alive. This episode is two hours long and will probably be that long for the other episodes, but you're eager to know to what is next for Lee and company once you're attached to this cast. I hope the performance issues are fixed in future episodes, but other than that, TellTale is off to a superb start with the Walking Dead and I can't wait for episode two next month.

Score = 9/10


  • Great start to the whole season establishing the plotlines and characters to the point I'm attached to them eagerly wanting to know what is next
  • Intense and gripping moments that allow the tough decision making to work wonderfully well
  • I also like the fact these decisions you make will stick throughout the whole season
  • Some performance issues, mainly stuttering during transition scenes, but nothing game-breaking

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