Video Game Review: The Walking Dead: Season 1

Details: Originally released in 2012. This is a review for episodes one through five of season one of the game. Got the game for free from http://www.humblebundle.com. Beat all five episodes in about thirteen hours. Official site is https://telltale.com/series/the-walking-dead/

Score: 7.5/10

Despite coming out about six years ago, season one of The Walking Dead is still one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played. A lot of this relies on a well written and acted out story which overshadows the superficial gameplay and shallow puzzles (if you can even call them that).

The Walking Dead takes place in The Walking Dead universe. In this post apocalyptic world, society has fallen and most people have dead and become zombies. You play Lee Everett, a convicted criminal who is on his way to prison when the world goes to hell. You now have to survive in this new world where the dead roam and eat the living. Along the way, you will make many hard decisions, meet other survivors, and learn that sometimes, the worst monsters in a world of zombies are other people.

The Walking Dead is an adventure game designed in the style of a choose-your-own-adventure book. You play as Lee and go through a narrative where at many points, you will have to make a decision with consequences on the story. Characters die because of what you decide to do. Characters also live depending on how to act. It all depends and the consequences of your choices are not obvious. Some events are fixed and cannot be changed no matter what you decide. Otherwise, your decision do have consequences and people die regularly because of them.

The story is the strongest part of this game. I’ve read through the comic book of this property before so I wasn’t entirely shocked by some of the events. The video game and television show are downright tame compared to the comic. However, many feelings were had through the story. The ending especially invoked many feels.

The weakest part of the game is the gameplay, if you can even consider it gameplay. Most gameplay consists of quick time events where you have to hit a button when prompted or move an onscreen cursor to a certain place within a certain amount of time. There’s some light first person shooting in the later episodes, but it is very light. I would have preferred they exclude any gameplay altogether, but that might be boring for most people so I get why they sprinkled in some button presses to keep players engaged.

Another weak point to the game is the visuals, which is ironic given more context on the status of visuals in Telltale games. Telltale Games has notoriously been using the same graphical engine for the last ten years. Consequently, all their games for the last ten years have looked pretty bad compared to other games released in the same time period. Ironically, this somehow made The Walking Dead look like a decent game because all subsequent games (including ones that were released just this year) look about the same. In other words, since all Telltale games look like trash, The Walking Dead looks like a relatively nice pile of trash in comparison. Even though this game came out six years ago, it still looks pretty good… because all Telltale games still look the same.

Voice acting was good. Not exceptional, but it got the job done and invoked the right emotions.

Overall, this was a fantastic adventure game, especially considering that I got it for free. It’s a game I don’t recommend to kids because it is pretty gory. However, if you can handle that type of stuff, The Walking Dead is a game I can easily recommend and probably worth a couple of dollars if you can get it on sale.

Score: 7.5/10

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