The Walking Dead is a really successful brand. The comic books achieved a solid cult following on its own. The AMC TV series garnered a massive amount of fans to the show. So when it was first announced that Telltale games was working on a point and click style Walking Dead game series, we were not all that surprised, and frankly, we did not expect much of it –until the first glorious game out. And from that point onwards, the episodic Walking Dead video game took a life of its’ own (pun intended).
The Walking Dead video game series is split into 5 parts, each a continuation of the previous and the story is delivered in such a way that you will want to play all 5 in order to get the full story. The idea is basic, and the point and click gameplay was a safe and simple choice (and hardly anything original), so what makes this game stand out so well? Three simple things: the intensity, the delivery, and the overall gameplay experience. Telltale games goes beyond everything that players expected and delivered a game so good, it would have gathered enough of a following even without the Walking Dead branding. And yes, it is such a successful game on its own. While we are certain that many fans of the original show and comic learned to appreciate gaming because of this, we are pretty sure that there are gamers who tried this game first and eventually became fans of the show or the comic as well.
A Fresh Take on an Old Style
The thing we loved most about the game series is the fact that it did not revolve around the characters of the comics/TV show. This means that even if you have seen the show or read the comics, the events that will happen in-game will not be predictable. Also, the fact that it does not follow the main storyline means that it complements the concept of being able to have player-based decisions determining the course of the game. Of course, there will still be a few cameos of characters from the main story –and mostly, you will meet incarnations of these characters before they appear in the TV or comics. This helps place the timeline of events in proper sequence.
Decision Making and Drama -the Best Combo?
This, however, is not the first time that Telltale attempted this kind of storytelling technique. They have released other games based on other series: Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, etc. These releases were at best, mediocre, and lacked much of the flair and drama that Walking Dead possessed.
If anything, gamers are less likely to compare this series with the older Telltale games and instead, they are likely to compare it to the Mass Effect series, and more aptly, Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain.
Mass Effect was much appreciated not only for being one of the best science fiction games of all time, but also for providing a game that allowed players to fully customize their character and more importantly, make an impact in the series with the decisions they make. The decisions made in one game carried over to the next –and with a trilogy that spanned years in the making, it was quite an amazing feat. Walking Dead does this on a smaller scale in terms of time, the episodes were released months apart. More importantly, the decisions made in Walking Dead appear to have a greater impact on the events that happened to the lead characters (though most would argue that the scale of the two stories are vastly different).
Heavy Rain on the other hand, is a Playstation 3 exclusive point and click style game that focused a lot on the visual narrative more than anything else. The gameplay combination of real time events, minor exploration, and dramatic storytelling gave the game a very cinematic feel. It kept gamers on the edge of their seats with every emotionally riveting twist of the story –and that is the exact same thing that Walking Dead does so well.
Making Your Own Path
These 5 episodes are more than just elements of other games refined to perfection, the Walking Dead series is a great game on its own and it would be a shame for anyone to miss out on them, be they a fan of the series or not. It all relies on one simple fact about this game: if you can appreciate a good zombie story, then you will be able to play and love this no matter how good you are at gaming or not.
For the initiated (aside from the standard: what are you even doing here?), the Walking Dead is a series of 5 online-downloadable games that were released by Telltale in the span of several months in 2012. Upon the release of the fifth game in the series, they also released a bundle pack of all five games in both digital and physical mediums.
The game revolves around the story of Lee Everett, a man who was originally on the way to incarceration when the police cruiser he is being transported in meets an unlikely accident. While Lee is able to gain freedom from imprisonment, he finds that the world has gone completely mad: it has been overrun by the undead. As he manages to survive his first encounter with the walkers, he comes across Clementine, a young girl who has been separated from her family. Lee takes it upon himself to keep her safe as he tries to find a way to survive.
Players take control of Lee and use a combination of basic stage exploration, point and click, and real time events in order to converse with NPCs, figure out puzzles, and of course, fight his way through zombies. The game does not penalize players for getting something wrong –the amount of continues is infinite and there is no puzzle or enemy that is ever too difficult to solve, or too hard to kill. What does matter is the player choices –there will be plenty of times that you are talking or interacting with other NPCs and the decisions you make will shape Lee’s relationship with them. This goes for providing responses to questions, sharing resources such as food and drinks, lending weapons, assigning tasks, who you will help in an emergency, –everything.
The story is for the most part –linear. Key events will come one way or another, but there will be plenty of noticeable changes depending on what you did. Characters may live or die depending on your actions so you have to be aware. Some results are not always obvious, and there are plenty of occasions in a game where you simply cannot predict the outcome (without having read a guide). This makes the choices appear more personalized and rational –you make a decision based on how you both think and feel, as if you were truly there, putting everything on the line with everything you say and do.
Quite the Conversational Topic
If you and your friends love the whole zombie apocalypse culture, it would not be too surprising if you had spent several hours arguing and discussing the best post-apocalyptic plans you can make. With that said, Walking Dead takes players across several important facets that are not always obvious when it comes to zombies. Most importantly, the series underlines one very important fact: as scary and powerful as zombies might be, nothing is still more dangerous than the cunning of the human mind.
More often than not, the most dangerous challenges and moral predicaments that Lee and the other characters face are laid out by humans, not zombies. You will be encountering cannibals, supremacists, delusional survivors (also criminally insane), and worst of all, internal squabbling. After all, the biggest threats are always those that are close to home.
The Round Up
If you missed out on getting the games individually last year, there is no need to fret. The bundle set is available in both digital and disc format for various platforms (it is supported on Windows PC, iOS, the Playstation 3, and the Xbox 360). Getting the entire collection also saves you from the trouble of individually installing each game and best of all, it is cheaper in the long run. Normally, the question to ask is: is it worth it? Considering the great amount of effort that has been put into this game and how well executed it is, we definitely recommend buying this game as soon as you can.