I’m mostly indifferent to the zombie genre that has had a sudden resurgence in the late nouties. Left 4 Dead is a blast, Zombieland is hilarious, but I dislike the amount of Zombie related media that is put out nowadays. It’s become a novelty or a fad. Thus I’ve never invested in The Walking Dead as a franchise. The stark black and white art style of the comics wasn’t appealing and without a TV licence, it’s difficult for me to watch the show. I’ve always heard really good things about the game for the last few years but have waited patiently for the game to come down to budget price.
This year I succumb to the annual steam winter sale picking up The Walking Dead Season 1+ DLC along with the second season. It both made my holiday but also made it a whole lot difficult.
It’s quite obvious that The Walking Dead has it’s roots in adventure games from the way it plays. You can look towards TellTales’ pedigree on the genre but what sets the game aside from Sam & Max, Back to the Future, and The Monkey Island series is the dialogue and choice system newly implemented in this game. This gameplay element makes The Walking Dead a phenomenal experience. I often found myself pausing the game to allow more time to think carefully, but ultimately choosing my instinctual option. It’s rare that I ever do this in game and The Walking Dead had me second guessing myself every two hours.
It’s not a perfect game. I felt that The Wolf Among Us flowed better than The Walking Dead as it broke up the difficult choices with stressful QTE sequences that kept my action craving in check. The puzzle sequences in The Walking Dead were very simple but I thought slowed the gameplay down too much. It did however give me some breathing room as I was always felt in a constant state of stress. Even during the quieter moments of the game, I was hurrying through and carefully interacting with everything in case the game moved on without me. This is a testament to the harsh immersive environment Telltale seeps you into and never lets go.
Each episode has it’s moments. From the shaky alliance formed at the end of ‘A New Day’, to the traumatic losses suffered in ‘Long Road Ahead’, each episode resonated with me at some point in time. ‘Starved for Help’ is my favourite as it planted the seeds of uncertainty that I carried throughout the rest of the season. Although the reveal at the end of the episode can be thought of as cliche, it was very effective in showing the desperate and horrific lengths humans needed to survive. Episode 2 was the first time my Lee had changed as a character. His and thus my philosophy on survival had been drastically altered after experiencing St. John’s Dairy.
The 400 Days DLC does a great job in covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time by allowing us to play as multiple characters. While some characters are awesome and I can empathise with their struggles and hardships, others had interests that differed from my own. This disconnect was most pronounced in Shel. It was quite obvious that she didn’t want to stay in the pit stop as I had desired so carried out my choices in an apathetic manner. My choices were registering but not with the character causing confusion with the result I obtained.
The Walking Dead has already been praised as a master piece and I’m not going to argue with that. It immersed me in some of the most depressing atmospheres ever in a video game but has also kept me entertained throughout. Telltale has provided the industry with something different, something fresh, and something that we can all be discussing for many years down the line.