Release Date: April 25, 2012
Developer: Telltale Games
Platform: PS3 / X360 / PC
First off, I want to credit Quinn Levandoski from Hooked Gamers. Had it not been for this reviewer, I would have never considered playing this episodic horror game. I’ve never seen The Walking Dead TV show or read the graphic novel, so I didn’t really know what to expect. However, from the review, it was attested that this game wasn’t your typical zombie killer. Levandoski was most certainly right. As I played, I felt like I was being pulled back in time to days of old Resident Evil style controls (or any horror game from Japan), and fixed camera perspectives. I never had a problem with camera limitations though. It only made the heavy atmosphere more convincing.
This atmosphere is pulled together through the use of the game’s cell shaded graphics style. I wasn’t sure on that art direction choice at first. I felt like the game needed to have a more realistic tone, and it seemed like the cell shading would take away from the game because it appeared a little cartoonish. The design ended up growing on me though. The developers were trying to give the zombie genre a different feel. I can’t fault them simply because their art direction was different from what I was used to.
The game itself is pretty much a story-teller with a dab of puzzles and a heavy dosage of decision making. If you’re not into conversation, this game isn’t for you. A lot of talking happens. When Lee, the main character, isn’t trying to dodge deep seeded questions from nosy strangers, he’s figuring out puzzles for the same people who aren’t too fond of him. These puzzles aren’t particularly difficult; however, you’re unable to carry out some of these required puzzles until you complete the appropriate scene(s).
I’m getting too far ahead of myself though. Let’s touch upon the story. We start off with an African American male by the name of Lee sitting in the back of a police vehicle. For reasons we won’t know of until later on in the game, he’s found himself in quite the predicament. He gets caught in a car accident only to wind up surrounded by a horde of zombies. Things couldn’t possibly get worse, right? They do. He soon comes across a young girl named Clementine, obligating him to ensure his survival as well as hers. That’s the story: his attempt to survive through the coincidental help of others. Since the story is one of the most important aspects of the game, I won’t divulge anymore. In fact, I think I’ve given too much away, so let’s move on.
You want to know about the action? How do you get to kill the zombies, right? It’s a sequence game in some cases. Usually, you have to aim with your left analog and press the correct button to carry out the command. I can’t really say that the action is particularity unpredictable. Like any story, you sense the foreboding climb to the climax. Even with the predictability, though, it doesn’t take away from the suspense of the events. In fact, there were a number of times I jolted from certain situations in surprise.
The most interesting part of the game comes with the decision making. The options are timed, which means you don’t have the leisure of choosing the pragmatic answer. Also, those chosen decisions affect your relationship with the individuals you’re conversing with. Here, you see how these relationships can help or harm you. Throughout the game, the characters remember certain information you choose to tell them which can come back to haunt you. I’m excited to see how far this memory feature will be taken to develop the story in the following episodes.
Alas, there are two sides to every coin, which means this promising game has its shortcomings. There are some instances of the subtitles lagging behind characters speaking. This isn’t purposeful, it’s like a delayed reaction. One moment they’re moving at an appropriate pace before suddenly slowing to a crawl and then resuming their pace. The dialogue can also be a bit awkward at times, like when you have the item needed to progress the conversation.
The characters never seem to acknowledge it. Rather, you have to go through the order of the conversation until it falls upon the item after much clicking. Lastly, the game is a bit too short with about 4 hours of gameplay at the most. The game is such a tease in that respect, you get very enthralled in its world and then it’s over before you know it. Just be aware, as this comes with the territory of episodic games.
In conclusion, this interesting interactive game series is off to a good start with its amazing voice acting, moving scenes, and decent puzzles. Surely, the other four episodes aren’t too far off from being released. With each episode, I’m sure the series will only get better.
- Great voice acting
- Interactive decision making
- Suspenseful atmosphere
- Interesting cell shaded graphics
- Too short
- Dialogue is sometimes awkward
- Linear puzzles