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2012 – The Year of Zombie Games Part 4

Posted on January 4, 2013 AT 12:29pm

In a year that had more than a few excellent zombie games, there was one that stood above the rest.  Featuring one of the most emotional, shocking and gut-wrenching stories told all year this game, which is number one on my list from 2012, is the best zombie game released that year.  By now, it’s pretty obvious that I’m talking about the episodic adventure masterpiece from the folks over at Telltale: The Walking Dead.

 When I first saw that the demo for this game went live on PSN, I had seen the first season of the TV show and read a few of the comics, so I thought I’d give the demo a shot.  Immediately after finishing the trial version, I purchased the season pass for the game and haven’t regretted that decision for a second.

Like many games nowadays, a huge component of The Walking Dead is choice.  The game is filled with dialogue options and it allows you to choose how you want Lee, the main character, to respond in each situation.  Sometimes it puts you into a scenario where there really isn’t a positive choice possible and even more frequently, you have to make those calls very quickly.  This makes the often out of control situations in the game feel just as hard to manage by the player and really helps to suck you into the story.

In every good piece of zombie media there is a moment, if they’ve done a good enough job pulling you into the story, where just for a moment you forget the zombies are actually there.  It’s never really about the zombie outbreak, but the human drama that’s created by the tragedy.  It’s about a group of people breaking down, not totally because of the human-munching corpses walking around, but the tensions of the group.  This game manages to beautifully capture that whole idea and make you feel a part of it because of the decisions you have to make.

If there was one game that really needed to be an episodic Telltale game, it was this one.  At the end of every episode, I felt kind of pooped with the intense situations and hard decisions I had to make while playing and it was really nice to have that break in-between each episode.  It gives you just enough of a break and similar to your favorite TV episodes, as the next one rolled around I would be foaming at the mouth to see what was going to down.

Look, I’ll be happy to admit that this is not a perfect game.  There are certain gameplay sequences that are really just not fun.  While I was pretty lucky to have not encountered many bugs playing the PS3 version, there are others who are not so lucky for every platform.  There were moments where the frame-rate chugged, never hindering gameplay, but still disappointing.  All that being said, I have not felt this strongly about how much I enjoyed a video game in quite a while.

This game made it into two very rare camps for me when I finished the last episode of the game.  First off, while I still have never full-on cried during a video game, this is in the company of less than five games that have come pretty darn close.  Also in a very short list, as the credits rolled for the game, I stood up and applauded in an empty room like a madman.  You might not feel quite as strongly about this game when the fifth episode comes to an end, but I defy you to not at the very least admit that it was one very satisfying zombie game experience.  This game is truly one of those that deserves to be played and I heartily recommend it to anyone out there who has yet to give it a shot.

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