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Jan 19, 2013

The Walking Dead Review

Enter the world of the Walking Dead, filling the shoes of one of the best sociological dramas ever written. Your character, a convicted murderer, must contend not just with a rapacious, merciless, and potentially explosively violent group, but zombies as well. The suspicious, selfish nature of the other survivors with you serves as far more of a device to move the plot forward than simply a run and gun collecting of supplies.

The gameplay is classic adventure game, with item interaction and the ability to explore and discover solutions to a variety of problems. Combat with the zombies is more of a button masher, but the drama of the situtation works far better as the button mashing doesn't make the whole game a long running quick time event. Also is the ability to lose correctly. You can make every correct decision, mash every button correctly, and still lose. While its frustrating on first glance, it does add a sense of realism, and adds emotional weight to the fact that you just can't save everyone. The puzzles are similar, in that you are rewarded for common sense.

The other characters are actual human beings, and most look to manipulate you or use you to protect themselves, if not just being sullenly suspicious of you and your motives from the get go. The interactions feel fluid, and while you're not rushed, you're not able to just sit and catiously weigh every option, as the game will pick one for you in that case as you make a knee jerk reaction. Voices and acting are also very well done.

A few nits do abound. You are railroaded somewhat, and while the plot line does require it, it doesn't make since to bend over backwards to save the guy you hate if you don't want to. The social aspects aren't as easy to spot, and pickups are a bit slapdash. The story itself does have a bit too much deus ex machina, with you winding up exactly at your parents old pharmacy, rather than a random location in town. A couple of the decision points are pretty stupid, such as leaving a safe haven without so much as a hammer for protection, and the traditional horror movie stupid person behavior of dropping every useful weapon 45 seconds after you pick it up. It doesn't matter that you don't have shells, you take the shotgun with you.

Overall, a well crafted, tight story that delivers all the horror and drama as effectively as the comics do, with the added bonus of a fwe cameo interactions without feeling like you're following behind the original WD group. And with more episodes on the way and custom crafted trailers, the upcoming episodes looked well poised to do nothing but improve on the initial foray.
Verdict: 80/100

Genre Adventure
Style Survival Horror
Themes Undead
Developer Telltale Games
Publisher Telltale Games


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