After a string of mid to poor level games, Telltale released their newest title, Telltale’s The Walking Dead. This was said to take place in the same universe as the show, but with original characters. The game featured a unique art style and gameplay system that had become Telltale’s standard. Still, caution was high with the new game. Even though the show was ridiculously popular, a video game was anything but a sure bet.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead is a point and click esque game with quick time events (QTEs) thrown in for good measure. The game unfolds across five chapters, each about 2 hours in length. Starting in April of 2012, a new episode was released on a two month schedule. Each chapter was only $5, which is cheap considering the content value. Now, the game is on every console. Players controlled Lee Everett, a convicted man on his way to prison. En route, the zombie outbreak occurs. He runs for his life, encountering an eight year old girl named Clementine, who was left home alone when the outbreak struck. Lee takes Clementine with him as they escape the city. Throughout the game, Lee acts as a father figure, teaching her how to survive.
The main draw of the game was the choices presented. Often, players must answer questions that can either have a small or large impact on future events. Each response is timed, forcing players to quickly choose, with a default answer selected in case of non selection. Occasionally a QTE presents itself, moving the gameplay beyond simple choice selection. The QTE’s are simplisitc, and if failed, easily repeated with convenient restart points. While the gameplay was simplistic, it was the story that riveted players.
Designers can’t create an ever expanding tree of choices. Instead, it’s the illusion of choice that matters. Here, Telltale’s The Walking Dead succeeds immensely. The outcome over every choice is the same. If character X is marked for death, it will come to pass. It’s how the gamer carves out their own story, creating their own Lee. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
A story is only as strong as its delivery. While there certainly are graphical hitches, framerate issues, and other technical problems, Telltale’s The Walking Dead is still greater than the sum of its parts. Particularly in thanks to the voice acting. The unmistakable Dave Fennoy voices Lee, while relative newcomer Melissa Hutchison portrays Clementine. I consider myselfTe a bit of a voice actor aficionado, but I scarcely recognized any of the actors names, including those of the two protagonists. That in no way detracts from the performances though. Hershel and Glenn also make an appearance, but aren’t voiced by their actor counterparts.
The biggest feature was effectively shaping your own Clementine. Lee taught her throughout the game how to survive. By porting the save file, your Clementine will continue in the second season of the game. Keeping her hair short, trusting other groups, and all the important information Lee passed to her is carried on.
For me, I waited until the entire season was completed, playing through all the chapters in a single playthrough. Telltale’s The Walking Dead kept me enthralled throughout, nearly making me shed a tear by the end. License properties have notoriously poor quality. Telltale’s The Walking Dead completely bucks that trend.
Did the ending make you cry? Excited for the second season? Comment below!
Double beat loaf, I hate meatloaf.