Like many fans of The Walking Dead, I started off watching the TV series rather than reading the comic. As my affection for the series continued to grow, I found myself reading the comics as well, thus thoroughly indulging myself in the zombie goodness from creator Robert Kirkman. When The Walking Dead Game was announced by Telltale Games, I was a bit thrilled by the news. I realized that Telltale Games would be the company to understand that The Walking Dead Game should not be a Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil clone. Instead, the game needed to focus on the characters and as their track record of recent games like Back to the Future and Sam & Max prove, Telltale Games fully comprehends and appreciate why the source material for a game is so loved.
In The Walking Dead Game, you play as Lee Everett, who is not in either the comic or TV series. Lee has been recently arrested and is being taken out of Atlanta, where The Walking Dead takes place, in a squad car right as the zombie outbreak is happening. When the car hits a zombie and crashes, Lee will have to escape and begin his fight to survive. Since this is taking place right at the beginning of the outbreak, the game is considered a prequel to The Walking Dead, but characters from the show/comic will make an appearance. The Walking Dead Game, like other Telltale Games, is split into five episodes, and the first episode is called "A New Day."
Comic Styling - Instead of trying to recreate the character from the TV series, Telltale Games decided to focus on the comics. Its use of cel-shading gives us a game that really does look like a comic in motion. I've never cared much for cel-shading because it's always used to try to give a game a comic-book feel, but is rarely used to make a comic come to life. In one sequence regarding Hershel, there were several instances where it looked exactly like the comic book when he had a similar reaction. Fans of the comic will likely find themselves more immersed into the game as I was.
Tough Choices - Whether it's the TV series or the comic, fans of The Walking Dead know that there are some painfully hard choices made by the characters. You'll find yourself having to make a variety of choices in the game: lying to a character, staying loyal to another character, or having to decide the fate of one of the survivors. Each decision has different levels of severity, but certain choices will remain with you throughout the game. So if you decide that Lee should lie to everyone he meets on where he came from, go right ahead, but you better remember the lies you made because someone may call your bluff down the line. What I love about this gameplay element is that you have to keep in mind of what you said and where you stand with people. You can lie all you want, just try to avoid tripping over the web of lies you created, or tell the absolute truth even though there may be consequences. Your actions will also carry over with characters remembering that you helped them out or that you betrayed them. Again, it's all up to you and the choices do matter.
Action in This Adventure - If you're a veteran of the adventure genre, then you're aware that there is hardly any action. Usually all an adventure game actually has you do is some Quick Time Events, if even that. In the case of The Walking Dead Game, the bits of action you get requires you to move your crosshairs to a certain location and pressing a button. For example, when a zombie is crawling towards you, you have to move the crosshairs to its head and then press a button to give it a kick. You may have to do this multiple times in some cases hence creating a frantic moment within the game where your reaction time will be the difference between surviving or dying.
THE STUMBLING DEAD
You'll Be Hungry for More - Like other Telltale Games, The Walking Dead Game is split up into five episodes. On one hand, this allows you to jump into the game for a fairly low price of $5. The problem is that now, like those of us who played the game are now doing, you have to wait for the next episode. Although this will make you appreciate the game a bit more since you have to sit and wait for it to continue, it also kind of blows that it'll be months before you can actually "finish" the whole game.
Did I Miss Something? - While the use of choices is important to creating a unique experience, there is a little problem. There were too many times when responses didn't make sense. For example, in the second half of my playthrough, Lee was holed up in a drug store. Lo and behold, this drug store was owned by Lee's parents, but I didn't realize it until several conversations after getting in there when Lee mentioned it. To me, this seemed to be an important detail to mention when he first entered the place, rather than having him quietly mention it to himself later. Not just that, later on it seems that the people there knew Lee's connection to the place already even though me, the player, was still clueless. You'll notice a few of these slip ups as you play, and it will take you a bit out of the game since you'll realize that the response you're getting does not sync up with the story that you're driving.
Fans of The Walking Dead comic and TV series should be able to jump right in and enjoy The Walking Dead Game - Episode 1: A New Day. It has the same drama and focuses on the characters in order to entice the fans. Adventure fans may also take interest on how the genre can move forward with the success of this game. Even if you aren’t a part of those two groups, give the game a shot if you're into zombies, it's only $5.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*