First The Walking Dead was a black and white comic book that did pretty good for itself. Good enough to turn into a highly successful TV series unlike any before it. But how will The Walking Dead’s unique look at the zombie apocalypse translate to gaming? It translated really well and brought an experience that really feels like you are in The Walking Dead universe.
I’ll start with the negative to get it out of the way. I know a lot of the traditional zombie game players will be turned off of this title. Ironically it is one of this series strengths that will make some gamers look the other way. The zombies take a back seat of the humans in the story. Sure they are there, and a constant threat but it is the interactions between the living that really drive the story. So if you are looking for mindlessly putting a zombie’s head in the crosshair and pulling a trigger you are out of luck here. But if you are looking for a great story involving zombies with just enough amazing action to keep the story going, this is for you.
The only other negative thing that I could see is the graphics. It doesn’t look bad by any means. But it is cel shaded looking animation. It is really good looking regardless. It isn’t a super realistic amazing graphical display, but it definitely gets the job done.
Both of these issues may be a big deal for some people. But I know most Walking Dead fans won’t mind. If you like the comic book and the tv show, you know what the story telling style is by now. So you won’t be taken aback. Also the comic book is in black and white, so the game looks better than that.
The game takes place in the world of the comic series and starts roughly a couple days after the zombie apocalypse starts. You control Lee Everett who is on his way to jail for killing a US Senator who was sleeping with his wife. But when the car hits a zombie and runs of the road, you realize that the world isn’t what it used to be. I’m not going to ruin much more about the story, but there is stuff here that fans of the comic will really enjoy. Such as an appearance from Glenn and ending up on Hershal’s farm before the events of the comic take place.
The gameplay itself is similar for the most part to a point and click adventure. Using the left stick to walk around and controlling the cursor with the right stick. But it is so much more fun than I feel like that sounds. Most of the game is spent talking to other survivors and exploring your surroundings. The decisions you make when talking to people affect what they think of you, how the story will take place and how the characters will treat you in key moments.
The decisions you make are legitimately cool and you are given little time to make them. There are two separate instances in episode 1 where there is a person dying on each side of you and you need to choose which to help. With real consequences and rewards for your choices. One of the things in this game I appreciated the most was that your choices and broken down and compared after you beat episode 1. It shows you which decision you made and what percent of people made the same decision as you. Really put it all into perspective.
Although the story is largely character driven and there isn’t as much action as any other zombie game, the action that is present is amazing. The easiest way to describe it is the story will suddenly become high adrenaline and the action becomes a dynamic cut scene with a few different options. The one worry I had about the action coming in was how legitimate it would feel. But it really feels like the comic where the action gets out of hand at points where suddenly you are all fighting for your lives with people dying everywhere. And the gore is present. They are not taking it easy on the bloodshed. The second zombie you kill literally gets their head smashed in with a hammer and blood is everywhere. You can even bash the skull in a couple more times than you have to, if you want to vent a little bit.
Overall I must highly recommend this game. They are releasing it one episode a month until all five are released. Depending on your format you’re looking at about $20 for the season pass of all five episodes and it is worth absolutely every penny.
Don’t bother picking it up if you looking to just mindlessly shoot zombies left, right and center. But if you want a great story driven zombie story with a few amazing action sequences you’ll love this and if you loved the comic and/or TV show you will not be disappointed by the franchise's jump into the video game world.