Posted on August 1, 2012 AT 05:30pm
Okay, first of all, let me go ahead and put it out there…I’m not a zombie fan. Nothing about a zombie is intriguing or attractive to me. In recent years, there have been an outbreak of zombie related games, DLC packs, and mods. Game developers have been obsessed with zombies like Hollywood has been with vampires. This trend has seemed like an incurable, contagious rash…Needless to say, I was not interested in seeing yet another iteration of the Zombie Apocalypse.
I’m glad that Telltale Games didn’t read my mind and listen to me. Before the iOS version, I’d played episode 1 of the PC version of The Walking Dead. So this will mostly be a general review of the game, with me touching on the differences between the PC/console version, and the iOS one. There aren’t many, but I did notice some differences.
The Walking Dead is a game set in the universe of a graphic novel, titled the same, written by Robert Kirkman. Instead of retelling the graphic novel, the game chronicles the story of a man named Lee Everett; the convicted murderer of a senator who was sleeping with his wife. The Macon, GA native is also a college professor at the University of Georgia, and right off, in the opening scenes of the game, you are forced to question whether or not you believe this man is guilty of murder. Lee doesn’t help you figure this out. He’s very ambiguous about whether or not he committed the crime when the police officer who is carting him off to prison is trying to get him to confirm or deny. His personality seems to say no. Everything from his hesitation and reaction to killing his first zombie, to how immediately gentle, protective, and caring he is toward his new ward, Clementine…if this man is a murderer, it was certainly a crime of passion. However, he never denies the act, and there is even an option at some point to tell Clementine that you killed a man. Regardless of what the truth is behind his veiled past, Lee Everett steps up to the plate, becoming a hero and a leader when the call comes.
Although the game presents an original story, fans of the graphic novel will be pleased by cameo appearances from characters they know.
This survival story is excellent and engaging, comprising of huge highs and lows, transitioning from Lee being taken to prison, and being involved in a bad car accident, to his first encounter with a zombie, and him finding safety at Clementine’s house, to them being attacked, and so on. The characters you encounter throughout the story will either make you like them, or dislike them. I didn’t really find many characters I felt very neutrally about. The game being episodic, the first episode is only about 2 hours long, which was just long enough. After finishing, I felt like I had just directed a movie with an amazing screenplay for a live audience…and I immediately wanted to do it again.
Telltale Games is known for making (re-making) adventure games; some excellent, like, Back to the Future, others, not so much (Jurassic Park). They hit the mark though with The Walking Dead. I’ve heard people complaining about this game not being active enough. I don’t understand that. There were moments of true terror and urgency starting within the first 10 minutes of the game. I died during that initial, pivotal moment, the first time I played the game because I did not take proper action quickly enough. As a matter of fact, just about everything feels urgent in this game; even conversation, which is timed, and important. At times when you say something, or perform a certain action toward another character, a message will pop up (ex. Clementine will remember you protected her), letting you know that every decision you make matters. And you will have to make some hard choices, including ones that involve who will survive to move on to the next chapter of this journey with you, and who won’t…very quickly.
Most of the game had that old point and click feel, but there were moments where you had to aim and shoot/hit. This is actually the main difference between the console/PC version of the game, and the iOS version of it. In the iOS version, where you would normally be aiming at a zombie’s head to fire a shotgun burst through its brain, a bulls-eye appears on the screen, and you simply touch it to fire. This difference does make the game feel much less active. The touch controls work generally well however, with you being able to perform any needed action in the game by either sliding your finger along the screen to move, or touching a point to perform an action/select a conversation choice. The only thing that felt a little odd was swiveling your head to look around. Sometimes the camera felt sluggish, as if it wasn’t going to move, and then would all of the sudden jerk in one direction, but this was a minor annoyance.
Visually, the game is spot-on; being based off of a graphic novel, it has the look of one. The atmosphere doesn’t feel too bright or dark and the character models look great. I did notice some framerate issues in this version of the game (moreso on the iPhone version than the iPad one). It wasn’t always very overt, but at times, there was some stuttering. Overall though, Telltale did a great job at porting their console/PC game over to the mobile platform.
As already stated, as soon as I finished this episode, I wanted to play through it again. Aside from the excellent story and fun gameplay, the game offers you a number of choices, and I wanted to go back and explore them. And given the fact that there are 4 more episodes yet to come, this game will certainly have you hooked for a long while.
SUMMARY: What Telltale Games has created with The Walking Dead is not just a game, or visual novel. It is a simulation of what it might be like to be thrown into an apocalyptic situation. It is a picture of people doing what they can–what they must to survive a horrific event, and the sacrifices that come with those decisions. This is not a game that requires you to be into zombies or adventure games. It only requires that you enjoy great stories. If you are in the market for something fresh and different, buy this game.
- THE GOOD: Phenomenal story, Pleasing visuals, Gameplay that offers choice
- THE BAD: Framerate issues, iOS version is less active than the console/PC counterpart
- THE UGLY: N/A
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