At the time of writing I have just started The Walking Dead’s Season 1 episode 3: Long Road Ahead. Previously I had to play through Episode 1 three times before finding a work around due to a glitch causing my choices not to go through correctly. For those playing on a Mac with a similar problem, here was my solution (link has spoilers for episode one going into two).
Anyways I thought I’d give a few thoughts about what I think of the game so far before writing a final Quick Thoughts after I completed the season.
Glitches and bugs aside, this game really disturbs me. I’ve gone on record saying I dislike playing horror games as it makes me discover new fears that I have to identify with. The Walking Dead goes the extra mile by scaring the hell out of me and making me feel bad at the same time. Adapting this commentary on the ‘human condition in a horror crisis’ into a video game puts you in the shoes of a survivalist. TV shows, comics, books, and films can all trigger thoughts of what you would do in that situation but still allow a safe disconnect by being the passive bystander. Video Games as a medium however, puts these thoughts into motion. And it’s really uncomfortable.
Many times I’ve had to stop playing (not only because my game crashed) because I felt physically perturbed by the contents of the game. It’s making me come to grips with what kind of survivalist I am and what people would think about me in those situations.
The characters are amazing in this game. The group you’re with have their own personalities, problems, and agendas making them feel more three-dimensional. The reason I replayed episode 1 again and again was because a character didn’t make it to episode 2. A character I liked. I figured there was no point in continuing on without my choice going through as a large part of the game are the choices. The personalised story-telling in The Walking Dead makes it less of a game but more of an experience. Randomised choice selection turns it into an on-rail game or theme park ride; follow the button prompts and enjoy the set pieces. When in reality The Walking Dead can be so much more.
It’s rare for me not to a use reference guides when playing games as I strive for absolute paragon and completion but with Telltale games it’s different. I’m starting to understand that these are not the typical game and more of a cinematic experience. You can look up how to 100 % Symphony of the Night and not have it affect your enjoyment of the game, but having foreknowledge on The Walking Dead ensuring the “best” result turns the game into a binary slideshow.