The Walking Dead: The Game

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The Walking Dead: The Game Reviews

The Walking Dead: The Game Reviews

When pundits talk about a game changing the industry or leaving an indelible mark, they usually give the title in question a while to weave its way into the tapestry of our culture. Even though The Walking Dead: The Game is just now arriving as a standalone disc, there’s no denying the impact Season One from developer Telltale Games has had on video games. Using player choice, award-winning writing, and your own emotions, The Walking Dead: The Game delivers an experience that’s flawed but unforgettable.

Originally released as five episodes starting in April and ending in November 2012, The Walking Dead: The Game casts us as Lee Everett, a convicted murderer on his way to the big house. However, before Mr. Everett can trade his denim shirt for an orange jumpsuit, the zombie apocalypse breaks out and gives Lee new goals in life: namely, surviving at all costs and protecting a little girl named Clementine.

It is these two goals that make The Walking Dead: The Game the juggernaut that it is. See, The Walking Dead is an adventure game, but it’s not the kind of adventure game you’ve come to expect. Sure, you’ll need to figure out how to get a radio working and how to distract walkers here and there, but the real draw here is a “choose your own adventure.”

As you play through the five episodes, the big moments come when you choose how Lee responds to situations and what he says in conversations with his fellow survivors. Choices and dialogue pop up on screen with timers, and you have seconds to pick exactly what you’re going to do or say. Whereas previous adventure games from developer Telltale Games would let you run through every possible line of dialogue, that isn’t the case here. In The Walking Dead, you choose, and the game moves on – adapting its story to each decision.

This is what makes The Walking Dead so special. You and I are tasked with the same goal of protecting Clem, but the way we do it might be completely different. I might choose to befriend someone you hate, and you might choose to leave someone I took. I might shoot my mouth off in anger, but you might keep your cool; either way, the group will remember that and the dynamic will change. The decisions you’re making in the moment have ripples that go throughout the entire adventure. When you get to Episode 5, the things you have and haven’t done – the choices you haven’t thought about since Episode 1 – are going to come up.

Will our endings be completely different? No. The Walking Dead: The Game is telling us the same story and thus taking us to the same conclusion, but it allows us to experience it in different ways. I’ve heard some naysayers refer to this as “the illusion of choice” — as in what we’re doing or saying really doesn’t matter because it all nets out relatively the same — but that’s selling the journey short. The Walking Dead: The Game is like a coloring book: we each have the same black and white sketch, but it’s up to us to fill it in as we see fit. The relationships I’ve built, the emotions I’ve felt, the choices I’ve made – that’s what makes The Walking Dead: The Game so endearing.

Part of that connection comes from excellent writing from the Telltale staff that manages to be funny, tense and scary at the right moments, amazing voice acting from Lee and Clementine, and a visual style that’s pulled from the comic book world the game is set in and that never manages to get boring. There’s this perfect storm here that manages to create such believable characters and set us in their world.

When it comes to actually playing The Walking Dead: The Game, Telltale whipped up a new adventure control scheme. Like I said, for choices, text pops up and you have to jump on it, but for controlling Lee, one stick controls the character and the other controls an onscreen reticle you can use to interact with objects and people. When the action gets going and you need to shoot zombies or fight off walkers, it can be jarring to use the reticle stick to line up shots, but that’s part of the fun – the game catches you off guard with things and you have to scramble to the foreign control in order to survive.

What holds The Walking Dead: The Game back from being a masterpiece are technical hiccups that have been well documented throughout the episodic adventure and are common Telltale stumbles. Scenes freeze as the next one loads, gameplay slows down as the game tries to process intense action, and save files inexplicably disappear. These are disappointing, but in the end, experiencing The Walking Dead: The Game is well worth any technical blemish you might have to sit through.

While we have not encountered these problems, some owners of the Xbox 360 disc version of the game and Xbox 360 units without hard drives have reported stutter/playback issues. For information on how to fix that, see Telltale’s support page.

The Good

  • Action-packed tactical gameplay
  • A weirdly beautiful post-apocalyptic world
  • Classic Fallout tone and black humour

The Bad

  • Systems take time and effort to learn Read more at
  • Lengthy load times
  • Unconvincing facial animation

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