A Lively Time Found in ‘The Walking Dead’ Game
By Michael WORKMAN
In the early days of video games, “point-and-click” adventures were some of the most popular PC games. Titles such as “The Secret of Monkey Island,” “Space Quest” and “Day of the Tentacle” offer fond memories for devoted PC fans of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Today, many people in the gaming industry believe the classic point-and-click adventure genre is either dead or on its way out. Thankfully, the developers at Telltale Games have proven that it is indeed very much alive and kicking with their “2012 Walking Dead” game.
Based off Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse graphic novel, Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” is not a mindless shoot ’em up, but a well thought-out and provocative game that has players dealing with tough choices. “The Walking Dead” game has released season 1 which is divided into five separate episodes as the story progresses.
The game is set in rural Georgia like the graphic novel and television show but follows a different group of survivors during the undead outbreak. Players assume the role of Lee Everatt, a history teacher who was convicted for murder but before he could be taken to prison the zombie outbreak occurs and Lee is thrust into a much more dangerous world. Early on, Lee is saved from a zombie attack by a little girl named Clementine who is then taken into Lee’s care as they search for her parents. The relationship between Lee and Clementine is the central element of the game and why it is an absolute gem in the adventure game genre.
Gameplay is straightforward and relatively easy to pick up. Players interact with the environment or go through quick-time events to solve problems, be that finding replacement batteries or holding off a bandit attack. If the player isn’t quick enough, Lee or Clementine can die and players will have to start at the last auto save.
Combat isn’t everything though, since dialog plays a large role in the game. Players choose how Lee will respond to others, either tactfully or outright hostile in some cases. Each dialog moment is set on a timer so players will have to quickly decide how Lee should react to whatever he is confronted with.
What makes this a unique experience for every player is that every decision and dialog choice is recorded in the game, which in turn shapes future events. Characters in the game will remember moments when you helped them get out of a jam or sided with them during a heated argument. Unfortunately, this means other characters will dislike the player if they don’t side with his or her decision. They will show this by either whining every chance they get about that one time you didn’t help them or they may outright leave you to die in a dangerous situation.
There are moments when it seems pretty black and white how to approach a dire situation, but those occasions are quite rare. Players will mostly be confronted with agonizingly terrible choices that never seem to end well, which in a really messed up way makes the game interesting. Arguments are frequent among the survivors who are all on edge from hunger and sleep deprivation – all while the player has to decide who is in the right.
Overall this is an amazing achievement by Telltale Games that should have a perfect score, but there are some glaring flaws that need to be addressed. There is a horribly annoying glitch that erases saved files even after playing through three of the five episodes, sending the player back to square one. Also it is somewhat misleading when it is advertised that all choices matter. After multiple play-throughs, I found that the story has a pretty defined path and most events are unavoidable, which means there are no multiple endings, only one. How the player progresses to arrive at that ending is the real choice.
Even though there is only one ending, it is an amazing ending for a game. It is difficult to express how emotional and powerful the ending to the “The Walking Dead” game is. Play this game and find out. Players that are not crying by the end of the last episode are pretty cold-hearted. “The Walking Dead” game gets a 4/5.
Pro tip: Do not mistake Telltales’s “The Walking Dead” game with another game called, “The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.” Survival Instinct is a terrible first-person shooter game based off the television show.
Players should consider themselves warned.