The Walking Dead has been hitting its stride in popularity over the last couple of years, with a successful graphic novel series and television show. It would only seem natural that Telltale Games would take the reins in bringing this zombie infested universe to life in video game form. But how does it match up to the television show, and, more importantly, how does it match up to the graphic novel? Well, we’ll find out over time, but for now, let’s take a look at Episode 1 of The Walking Dead.
As far as The Walking Dead Universe is concerned, this title takes place just before Atlanta becomes zombie central. Episode 1 starts off by introducing you to Lee, a teacher convicted of murder, on his way to prison. Your car hits something and knocks you off the road in classic horror film style. He comes across a little girl named Clementine, and eventually, the two end up agreeing to stick together throughout this whole ordeal. The story throughout Episode 1 gets tense to set things in motion. Every decision you make has consequences that will affect the world you live in, not just now, but into future episodes. Telltale has another hit on their hands, and this one brings something special to the table. Everything is great, from the way they tell the story, to the excellent dialog, to the amazing voice acting. It leaves you wanting more.
From a graphical viewpoint, the game looks very gritty and comic-like. This was done intentionally to pay respects to the comic. That’s in no way a bad thing, as it gives the game a great feel to it. The environment is very dark and helps to set the mood towards horror and survival. This is the first time Telltale has created a game this dark. They found a way to take the quick time events and exploration mechanics from both their previous titles (Back To The Future and Jurassic Park) and weave them together to make them work more efficiently and quickly. However, they might have made things move a little too quickly by not giving you a lot of time to make decisions. This required quickness might be a double-edged sword in the end, but that will be determined by the end of the last episode.
Game Features/Length (2.0/2.5)
For an episodic game, you can’t expect too much as far as features are concerned. Telltale always delivers a great single-player experience, and this game is no exception. The single-player mode gives you two different modes to play through: Standard and Minimal. Standard gives you all the help you’ll need to get you through the game. The UI will provide hints and feedback when important choices arise. Minimal offers you none of those choices and leaves you in survival mode, trying to figure everything out. Episode 1 gives you 2-4 hours of gameplay, depending on how good you are at figuring out what you’re supposed to do; for a $4.99 movie-quality episode, that’s all you can really ask for.
Fun Factor (2.0/2.5)
Ok, fun factor should be replaced with fear factor. Telltale leaves you feeling tense throughout the entire episode. There’s no way of telling whether the choice you make is going to screw you over later on, and its gruesome to go through, but in a good way. There are characters you instantly fall in love with and want to see survive this horrible experience. Then there are characters that you’d want to serve to zombies on a silver platter, and the episode ends not only with you not getting that option, but leaving you feeling angry because you have to wait for the next episode to see what’s going to happen next…blast it!
Overall Verdict (8.5/10)
For a game that costs $4.99 an episode or $19.99 for all 5 episodes, released monthly, it feeds you a great gameplay experience for a great price on the PSN, XBLA, Mac OS X, and PC. For Walking Dead fans, this will be in your collection, or at least be on your radar, for the future, once all 5 episodes come out. The quality Telltale puts into the first episode sets the bar for the next four, and this reviewer will be looking forward to playing them. In all seriousness, we want to see someone get served up, zombie-style, BIG TIME!
This review is based on a review copy of the PSN version of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games