The Walking Dead: Season One is All About the Choices You Make
What sets the Walking Dead apart from any other games involving zombies is that it foregoes hard-hitting action sequences in favor of dialogue-driven interactions. If you like your zombie dramas with a big helping of blood and gore, you can rest easy. Being a title from Telltale Games, you can be sure that Season 1 will have plenty of scares anyway. For those who have not played games from the developers, we can summarize the game play into two basic parts. The first involves quick time events (QTE). This allows you to choose which character to assist when things go to hell and effectively keeps you at the edge of your seat. It also imparts that familiar urge to put down the controller to hide under the blanket while shivering in fear. In essence, this replaces the brain-blasting segment of your typical zombie game yet still keeps the good stuff which makes Season One a graphic adventure title. Continue Reading
Release Date: 24th February 2012
Available on: Mac, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Windows, PC Download
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Gameplay: Narrative Driven Decision Making
The next and most important aspect of Season One's game play involves choosing how to respond to the characters you meet. During dialogue sequences, you are given a maximum of four options representing Lee's opinions on the matter at hand. This then influences how members of the group react to you, how they generally feel and it affects their motivations in general. Regardless what you choose, the general path of the story remains the same. However, you may end up with a fewer number of survivors or a more difficult time getting past the game's challenges. Just like in real life, you don't usually have the luxury of waiting it out, so to speak. Most sequences have a time limit. Letting the opportunity to respond pass basically remove your chance to influence the flow of the story and gives the characters free reign to think or act the way they want.
So would you really want to pick a fight with the group medic's husband? How about getting on the de-facto leader's bad side? Season One is all about making the hard choices and still being able to reserve some of your emotional strength to support Clementine. It's an unusual, yet addicting way to experience a game and when it's all over, you'll be tempted to revisit the episodes just to see what lies on the other side.
The interaction between Lee and Clementine makes the story even more compelling than it already is. Imagine having to explain the evils of the world to an innocent eight-year-old who is still hoping to reunite with her parents. Now imagine that while protecting her from hordes of undead with serious snack cravings. It's really not that easy. No matter which choices you make, Lee shines because of cleverly written dialogue. You will go through plenty of horrific events, that much we can assure you, but the times in between give you a chance to get to know the characters up close. There have been times when we've caught ourselves just wanting to stay a bit longer in the interim just to give the group a semblance of happiness and normalcy but then there's always something to serve as a reminder that the world has changed. Be it the harsh reminder to look for food lest people starve or unsettling little tidbits that indicate something bad is going to happen.
Delivery: If They Colored the Comics, This Would Be It
Because we do appreciate the distinct look of cel shaded graphics, we rank Season One's visuals right up there with Borderlands and the stylish look of Asura's Wrath. Though it does forego the shading depth and realism found in triple A 3D titles, the choice of rendering does help emphasize character emotions. It even delivers subtle hints, such as a slight upturn of the lips or an easily missed quiver of the brow. Needless to say, we're impressed with the final result as it fits the genre to a tee.
Because overall delivery will make or break a graphic adventure, great visuals can easily be overlooked if the audio is broken. Thankfully, the voice acting for Season One is at par with its excellent graphics, if not a pinch better. We especially liked how Lee's voice changes slightly tone when talking to the group and when soothing his scared surrogate daughter. So yes, he is a convicted murderer, but there's an unmistakable tenderness there that can only come from someone who cares for others. This is further evidenced by his dialogue options when speaking with Kenny. He can play the sympathetic friend if you so want him to be. Either way, the voice acting the game is terrific for all characters in general although those who have more screen time do get more opportunities to showcase their range of emotions.
The Verdict: You Should Be Playing This Yesterday
If you're looking for something with the undead sans the repetitive need to perform head shots, then The Walking Dead: Season One is perfect for you. It features the tried zombie infestation setting but delves deeper into the effects it has on the survivors. It is also a standalone story, meaning you can play and understand what's going on without reading any of the comic books or watching an episode of the television series. Overall, The Walking Dead Season One is a must-play game for anyone who appreciates masterful storytelling.
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The Walking Dead Season 1 is developed by Telltale Games.