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The Walking Dead - Episode One: A New Day

By RubyStreams25-09-2012
Bobfish (editor)
Leigh Cobb (editor)

The Defence

Telltale Games
Telltale Games
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GT 220
AMD Radeon HD 4650
3 GB
2 GB

The Case

Not many games really play with your emotions, make you feel for the characters or have a story that grips you from start to finish...especially games with zombies. Well, that's all changed with The Walking Dead. Telltale's new episodic game, based on Robert Kirkman's comic book series of the same name, is here to give zombies soul!

The Trial

The Walking Dead (TWD) is a pretty run of the mill point and click adventure and the best that Telltale has done. Take Back to the Future for example. It had a cutesy sort of feel to it, a great game for all ages. Now, TWD on the other hand...gore, profanity, gore and more gore. It's a gory game!! But done tastefully. Seeing a woman's head being smashed to a pulp is obviously quite a grizzly image, but Telltale have created a cast of some really believable and likable characters, that you can really understand that their actions are 'kill or be killed'.

You know developers are trying to evoke emotions when the player character is looking at family pictures.

You know developers are trying to evoke emotions when the player character is looking at family pictures.

TWD's cast is led by the game's hero, well, anti-hero in a way, Lee. The game kicks off with Lee handcuffed in the back of a police car being transported out of Atlanta. Lee's little trip soon takes a turn for the worst when the police car hits someone crossing the road and ends up on its roof. It's from here that Lee finds out that the car didn't hit a person, but something else - a Walker. Walkers are the undead - zombies!!! After a short gameplay section, involving aiming a shaky mouse at a (former)dead guy's head and blowing a hole in it, Lee meets up with Clementine, a young girl whose parents are nowhere to be found.

The bond formed between Lee and Clementine is one that is rarely seen in any game. You really do fall for these two characters. Lee becomes a father figure to Clementine and you soon become far more than just a gamer. You become part of their lives. Their story is so engaging, so emotional, so...real (yes, even with the zombies). Lee will do anything to protect Clem.

As their story progresses, they meet more survivors and the cast of characters become a family of sorts. A dysfunctional, paranoid and violent family.

You don’t see such up close and personal violence in games. And it’s not done in a “fun” way either.

You don’t see such up close and personal violence in games. And it’s not done in a “fun” way either.

Most of the game takes place in an abandoned pharmacy and it's here where the characters, and you the gamer, find out more about Lee and why he was in the police car. I don't want to spoil anything about the story so I will leave it at that...

Throughout the game, Lee is faced with decisions that impact the story and you as the gamer. Decisions more often than not require you to choose an action for Lee, an action that will see one die, and another live. Some of these decisions leave you with a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. Seeing a character who you've become quite attached to, during the few hours it takes to play through, get ripped apart by a horde of zombies is pretty hard to watch.

This first episode is basically used as an introduction to the 'family' of survivors. It does a great job of setting the sombre, almost hopeless, mood and really gets you attached to the characters. Also, although the game is based more on the comics than the TV series, each episode is set up much like a TV show - a cliff hanger ending, a "next on TWD" and a "previously on..." recap. It's a nice touch that keeps you wanting more.

Gameplay wise, TWD is a simple point and click adventure on the surface, but it is also so much more. Most of the time you're moving Lee around a section of the environment, looking for items to interact with, but during the cut scenes you are given a dialogue list to choose Lee's response. It's here where the game gets a bit deeper. Sometimes the character you are speaking to will remember something you said and it will be brought up later on in another conversation. If you say something in one conversation and say the opposite in another, the characters will pick up on it and react accordingly. A number of quick time events pop up but they never become a nuisance.

Moments of desperation are all around.

Moments of desperation are all around.

The cell shaded, hand drawn look is just a treat for the eyes. The environments look great and all feel unique and cared for. It really does look like an interactive comic book! It does have a few issues at the start with frame rate and skipping but the rest of the game runs smoothly.

You can complete the episode in a couple of hours, but the different choices to be made in the game allow for multiple playthroughs. A few hours may not sound like much, but the story, characters and emotional journey you go through really make it worth ever penny you spent.

The Verdict

The Walking Dead's first episode is a blinder. A strong cast of characters, a truly engaging story and some genuinely hard decisions to make, coupled with the comic book art style, make TWD one of the best games of 2012, and this is just the first episode!

Case Review

  • Family Affairs: A strong cast of characters that you become attached to.
  • Living Art: A wonderful art style, a pleasure to experience.
  • It's Rude to Point: Point and click gameplay may put some off.
  • The Zombie Shuffle: Some frame rate issues during the start of the game.
Score: 4.5/5
A mature interactive comic book experience like no other.
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