The Walking Dead, The Game, is the first episodic point-and-click adventure game I have ever played. While I am no stranger to adventure games, the episode delivery of such a game is a first for me. The first season, comprising of 5 ‘episodes’ culminates with a season finale, called “Family Ties”. It was released a few days ago, and thus concludes season 1. What was my impression of the overall game? It was by far, the best point-and-click adventure game I have ever played in a while.
I am a fan of The Walking Dead series, reading the graphic novels as well as watching AMC’s T.V. series that goes by the same name. In the game however, you play the role of Lee Everett who was on his way to prison in a police car, going away from Atlanta City after being charged with murder. The police car rammed onto a walking zombie on the road. The police car veered off crashing to the trees and overturned, leaving you unconscious. You managed to escape from the car after regaining consciousness and stumbled upon a neighbourhood. Attempting to find help, you came across a house that looked largely abandoned. But upon closer inspection, it was riddled with zombies. A small girl, by the name of Clementine saved your life who had been hiding in a treehouse above ground by the backyard behind the house. Apparently it was her parents house, but her parents were away from home.
Thus you begin the story by protecting this young girl, and surviving through the zombie infested world, meeting new people along the way until you form a group with one thing in their mind; survival.
The story takes place in parallel with the original story from the graphic novels. Along the way you also meet up with characters that you see in the graphic novels. You get to know who they were before the actual events took place in the graphic novels. But for the most parts, it is essentially a story between Lee (the character your control) and Clementine, along with other people you meet along the way.
Such an emphasis to the story was what attracted me in the first place. I am a sucker when it comes to story driven video games. The Walking Dead, masterfully crafted a gripping story full of emotions, hard decisions, and tensions all in an exhilarating pace. I cannot remember when was the last time where I actually played a game that is so engaging, especially in a point-and-click adventure genre. This is not a first person shooter, but rather a creating the story for yourself, based on the decisions you make that would affect the consequences later on in the game.
I was quite skeptical about this whole series before I made the decision to plunk down $24.95 for the entire 5 episodes. My initial impression was that the story and game would be shallow and that this is overall a simple casual game that does little but perhaps to flesh out more about the entire Walking Dead universe. But I was so wrong. Playing episode 1 led to episode 2, that led me to episode 3 all in one sitting. I was fortunate to buy during this period, because by the time I finished episode 4, the final episode 5 was released. So I had the opportunity to play the entire season, without much waiting. If it were otherwise, I would have suffered in agony just waiting for more episodes to be released because the cliffhanger ending is excruciatingly painful if you were to wait for future episodes for an extended periods of time.
Each episode last around 2 hours, so a normal playthrough for the entire 5 episodes would give you a satisfying 10 to 11 hours of gameplay. And given the avant-garde storytelling, it was well worth every penny. And you can actually replay again, because there are many decisions in the game that could alter the story as a whole, so you have an incentive to replay the entire thing again, increasing its overall value.
For every good story driven game, there has to be top notch voice acting, and this game delivered it. The dialogues were carefully scripted that really personifies the characters in the game. Each of them is distinct, identifiable and three dimensional. It makes the entire experience even more human and visceral, especially tense moments where you had to make snap decisions that could affect the entire group that you are in. The decisions put their lives at the palm of your hand. Each decision in the game is not easy, and what makes it truly believable is the tense raw human emotions that the voice actors have casted themselves in. And because these decision will impact the story later on, you never know for sure what is really going to happen, always keeping you at the edge of your seat while you are playing.
For those who have watched the TV series or even read the comic books, I wholeheartedly recommend trying out this game and supporting TellTale studios who created a wonderful job. For them to use video games as a platform to tell an incredible tale, just cements the fact that video game is an engaging platform for storytelling. I have been an advocate for developers who uses video game platform for such purposes. The next post, I am going to talk about one particular character named Ben in the game that I can’t help but be sympathetic towards him. I mean I just to defend this guy.