Let me start off this review by saying that when I heard that there was to be a video game based off the hit Walking Dead comics/TV series, I was incredibly skeptical. As Telltale doesn’t have the best track record these days, this can easy be seen as a cheap attempt to cash-in with the fanboys by releasing a cheap and mediocre product. I’m here to tell you that this isn’t the case.
As with the comics, story takes precedence in The Walking Dead. You play as Lee Everette, a wrongly convicted felon. As Lee is being carted-off to prison, the car crashes and you make your escape into the zombie-infested wasteland. From this point onward, the game revolves around the characters you meet and how you choose to interact with them.
Where The Walking Dead shines is in the conversations that you have with every other character. A large amount of the conversation choices impact your relationship with the character you’re talking to, and this makes it so that every conversation has meaning and your words have to be chosen wisely. The characters in The Walking Dead keep track of what say to them – for example, if you insult someone, you will receive a message that, “They will remember what you called them”.
This conversation mechanic is further enforced as several of the characters you meet will, in fact die, even if they had just been introduced ten minutes ago. Since you aren’t aware of just who is and isn’t going to make it, every conversation becomes that much more crucial. It almost feels like Telltale is cheating due to the fact that almost every conversation option is on a rather short timer. While you have to choose your words carefully, you don’t have much time to work with.
The main downside is that since this is just the introductory episode, a lot of the trust/mistrust you earn with the survivors doesn’t amount to much. Telltale has said that previous choices will in fact pan-out in future releases, but the fact is that there’s little to show outside of “Who do you wish to save, X or Y?”. While the signs are good that Telltale will keep it’s word, looking at this as a solitary episode, it’s hard to be content while the possibility of the next episode looms. If the system does pay off, it adds an incredibly large amount of replay ability to the game.
As with most adventure games, the majority of your time is spent walking, talking and interacting with objects. There are a few puzzles to be had but nothing daunting or unrealistic. The few situations where you are thrust into combat with the zombie horde, there’s a good chance you will die a few times due to a rather weak tutorial. However, most encounters boil down to aiming and shooting or a QTE event, so there is an incredibly light learning-curve.
The Walking Dead is far more than a cheaply made game designed to turn a quick buck. It may be rather short, clocking in around two hours, but considering that this is just part 1 of a 5 part series, it has a near-perfect playing time. It offers the same drama and character interaction as fans of the comics could hope for and despite a few minor flaws, I eagerly anticipate the next entry in the series.
The Walking Dead: Episode 1 was released on April 25th, 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Mac. Review is based on the PC version.