Not sure about the rest of you, but ever since entering that pesky thing called adulthood with a real full-time job, I’ve had to juggle my recreational activities very carefully. My video game time has been hit the hardest so with fewer available hours for button mashing, I have to choose my games very carefully. And then it may take years for me to replay classics like “UNCHARTED Greatest Hits Dual Pack,” “Batman: Arkham City (Game of the Year Edition) – PS3,” and “Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition – Playstation 3.”
I mention all that to give you some context and explain the significance of me immediately replaying Telltale Games’ “The Walking Dead” moments after the end credits finished.
You control Lee Everett, a Macon, Ga. resident, whose life was already spiraling before the dead begin walking the earth. Soon he meets fellow survivor, Clementine, an 8-year-old girl, and he becomes her surrogate father as they try to find sanctuary in an increasingly more dangerous world. The Lee/Clementine bond is one of the strongest I’ve seen in games and by the end you’ll develop a genuine concern for her well-being. Along the way you’ll encounter other survivors. Some of whom will prove your staunchest ally while others you can’t wait for a walker to make into a meal.
The game’s graphics mimic the look of Robert Kirkman’s comic book source material and while it could have come off as too cartoonish, it proves a smart design choice allowing for near seamless transitions from in-game action to video cutscreens. Occasionally, the game hiccups with out of whack lip-synching and the point-and-click controls can be tougher to navigate than a walker, especially during action sequences requiring quick precise responses.
It’s easy to work through the minor problems though thanks to the addictive choose your own adventure style game mechanic. Everything you do or say has meaning. A flippant remark could turn an ally against you, grabbing a seemingly random object could have dire consequences and in the worst case scenario, you’ll be forced to choose which ally to save.
And slowly as the story unfolds you’ll find yourself constantly second-guessing yourself. Did I make a mistake in saving that character? Why didn’t I tell them to stay behind? What’s the harm in letting Duck help me out in my investigation? If you’re convinced you made a stupid decision, the game has a welcome “Rewind” feature, which allows you to choose another option.
But the real fun comes from going through the experience and living with your choices. The lure of seeing what happens when you select Option 3, Choice D offers a high replay factor. The game developers set certain unavoidable benchmarks so even though you really wish you could change some outcomes (cough Ben cough) you’re powerless in some circumstances. This where the game’s other strong suit comes into play. The Telltale writers make you value character interaction and develop bonds so thoroughly that it is crushing when a character is written out leaving you an emotional wreck many times over.
With a slew of awards including numerous 2012 Game of the Year honors, this is a game that fully lives up to every bit of its well-earned hype. If you’re even just a passive fan of the TV show or comic book and haven’t gotten around to playing this yet, you’re missing out on a truly classic video game adaptation and one of those rare once in a console generation experiences.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Buy it on PlayStation 3: The Walking Dead Game of the Year – PlayStation 3
Buy it on X-Box 360: The Walking Dead Game of the Year – Xbox 360
Buy it on PlayStation 4: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season – PlayStation 4
Buy it on X-Box One: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season – Xbox One
Buy on PC: The Walking Dead Game of the Year – PC
Other Telltale Games:
A Wolf Among Us – The Wolf Among Us – PlayStation 3
Back to the Future: Back to the Future- The Game – Playstation 3