The Walking Review

Friday, January 10th, 2014

It’s really kind of sad, how often I find myself dropping games as soon as I start playing them. It’s a bad habit to be stuck in, for sure, but it’s not one easily shaken. The road less travelled is the one easier to get lost on, and I was sending up flares for help in the mire of decent games. Decent, but not great enough to capture me until the end.

The flares were answered by Telltale Games, dropping me a five-rung ladder called The Walking Dead. 

One extended simile later, and we’re into the meat of the review. The Walking Dead, as you probably know, is a point and click adventure game, with elements of horror and that bloody dead horse of the zombie apocalypse scenario.

However, you could argue that the zombies, while filling the role of the “big bad” of the game, aren’t the main focus of it. The entire thing is held together by the overarching glue of characters and their interactions with each other, especially those between your player character, Lee, and the first grader Clementine. 

Survival of your own self turns into trying to get everyone else to survive along with you – though that’s hardly ever the case, from what I’ve seen – and finding a way to survive in a world that’s all turned against you. It sounds cliche as all hell, I’ll admit, but the way the game is set out doesn’t make it feel that way. The story is engaging and the characters, for the most part, have a little more depth than the archetypes normally employed in these kinds of games.

There’s also a mechanic of a choice system (yes, the same one as I discussed last time, and yes, this was the inspiration for that) that does visibly affect what happens later on in the game, even in less meaningful ways like leading your charge to swear two episodes in. This set-up does make you feel like what you say as Lee changes the fates of people. You feel like their lives are in your hands.

Plus, it’s Mac native so I can play it on my old hunk of “technology” without it lagging out too much. That’s an automatic plus in my books.

It does sound like I’m full of positives for this game. I mean, I am. It’s a great game with a good story that you should probably look into if you haven’t already. However, there are some things I’ll beef about.

In some sections of the game, it feels like the story and characters are pushing you along a more linear path instead of the open choice of the calmer times. I do understand that that’s probably a requirement so the player doesn’t faff about too much, but it’s a detriment to the feel of the open, interactive setting. 

There are some characters that apparently have no flaws (hello, Mary Sue) and you can tell from the minute you clap eyes on them that they’re a pigeonholed love interest or slated for immediate death. Not every character’s perfect in anything, of course, but they do need to be people as opposed to generators of inspirational lines and/or tragic plot twists.

All in all, I’ll give this game a good rep. It’s worth your time and your effort, and the decisions you have to make. 

(Although I still haven’t quite finished it. Whoops.)

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