Sometimes in video games, the best component that people look for is a compelling story, and these experiences of great storytelling can be extremely rare. After the completion of this episodic season of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, the idea that storytelling in video games is no longer a popular concern will hopefully become a thing of the past. Now that we have the complete game, reviewing all five episodes can be easy compiled into one experience instead of five separate portions.
At the beginning of the 1st episode you are introduced to our main character Lee, a former university student who has been convicted for the crime of murder. Whether he’s guilty or not is really up in the air, as Lee is forced into a situation that most wouldn’t know how to react to: a zombie apocalypse. If that doesn’t make matters bad enough, Lee comes into contact with a little girl named Clementine, and the two of them try to figure things out together, although the situation goes from bad to worse to completely messed up. You meet a lot of different characters, some good and some bad, some completely villainous. However, one thing this game has going for itself is character development. It makes you care about (or hate) each person and their background, which allows you to make different decisions on how to react to them through dialog. But the decisions you make throughout each episode can either help you or completely screw you over.
By the time we get to the fifth and final episode of the season, Lee is faced with knowing that his time is running out and his concern for Clementine is all matters to him (or not, depending on what dialog options you have chosen). As for Clementine, her growth as a character takes her from a scared little girl to a girl who through circumstances may have to make it on her own, which can be terrifying for anyone. The cliffhanger at the end places Clementine as our potential lead character for Season Two. However, there are a lot of open questions left to answer in the next season (skip ahead if you haven’t played this episode yet). What happened to Ben and Kenny? Did they really meet their demise? Did Christa and Omid make it back to train? Did you force Clementine to shoot Lee before he turned into a walker? Who did Clementine see in the open field in the last scene? All these questions and more should be answered in the next season… hopefully.
As for game mechanics, there are some slight issues when it comes to the game’s point-and-click style, which has worked better in previous Telltale titles than it does in this one, as they have ventured into more of a Quick Time Event style of gameplay, which can be forgiven due to the great storytelling component. The FPQTE (First-Person Quick Time Events) leave something to be desired as far as gameplay goes, but luckily they are not the focus of the game, so they don’t hinder the progression of the storyline.
By the end of the final episode, there are quite a few positives that should be highlighted. You are given five episodes, each lasting about four to five hours, if you take things slow. The replay value is there, as your decisions shape the story and direction. You are given a status board to see if othe players made the same decisions as you or different ones. But most importantly, you are given possibly one of the best zombie storylines you’ll ever experience in a video game, and that speaks volumes for Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. What’s coming in the next season of the game? We’ll have to wait until mid-2013 to find out, but hopefully it will be just as good as the first if not better, which makes us excited as a reviewer and, more importantly, as a gamer who loves a great story.
This review is based on a review copy of the PC version of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games