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The Walking Dead: The Game Season 1 Review

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Developer(s):  Telltale Games
Publisher(s):    Telltale Games
Platforms:         Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
Release Date:  Full Season out now in North America and Europe

It’s not usually difficult to write a review without any spoilers as most of a review consists of how fun the gameplay is and how well it can interact with the narrative and move it forward.  In the case of a story heavy game anyway, but when a game flaunts itself as primarily a story driven game – then that’s a difficult task.

It’s hard because I want to tell you just how good The Walking Dead: The Game truly is.  I want to share with you some of the moments I’ve been through.  Some of which have connected with me so much on an emotional level it was difficult to detach myself from the game.

The Walking Dead: The Game is of course based on the popular comic book and TV show of the same name.  It’s a series that I’ve always wanted to see but as of yet haven’t, so if your in the same boat as me you can jump straight into the game without any problems.

If you’ve ever played Heavy Rain or a previous Telltale game like Sam & Max then you’ll be right at home here.  It’s a more advanced version of the kind of storybook games you may have played as a kid.

You control movement with the left stick and search for objects/people with a cursor controlled by the right.  The face buttons do different actions which appear on the cursor or during different conversation trees.  It’s a simple system that works extremely well.

You’ll be whisked from area to area with limited freedom and within these sections you’ll have to find certain items or talk to certain people to proceed the story forward.  It sounds like a simple gameplay mechanic but in the hands of Telltale it’s an element that goes very deep at times.

Simply comparing this to Sam & Max or Back To The Future – Telltale’s other games – just doesn’t do The Walking Dead justice.  This is the Telltale formula taken to eleven and driven right through the ceiling.

Season 1 of The Walking Dead puts a heavy emphasis on player choice and this is where the Heavy Rain comparison comes in.  Much like Quantic Dream’s game the decisions you make way heavy on the narrative but unlike Heavy Rain I found it difficult at times to disassociate myself from the fact this was a game.  I was lost in the moment and could really feel my heart racing when some of the decisions had to be made.  I knew that most of these decisions could possibly haunt me later on down the road and I spent a lot of time playing agonising over what the consequences of my actions could be.  Especially when you soon realise that most of the decisions are genuinely heart-breaking and really tug on the emotional heart strings.  I like to think there’s not much that gets me emotional on the TV but this was one of those moments I couldn’t help but be all caught up by what I was seeing.

A nice touch as well is that when you reach the end of an episode you’ll see a screen telling you of the decisions that others made.  Each episode contains five game changing decisions that could and usually do affect how you play going forward.  You’ll see a percentage of people who chose the same as you and it’s interesting to see just how popular your decisions were.

Time also plays a big role in The Walking Dead, with decisions and even general dialogue with characters having a time limit.  I have to admit that at times I was rushed into making a semi-random choice which was a little bit annoying but it helps the flow of the conversation between the characters.  How many times in real life do you pause for a few minutes to reply to the person your talking to?

I did find that towards the tail end of the game that focus was heavily weighed in favour of pure narrative rather than with gameplay mixed in here and there.  But that’s something I’m happy with as the last set of story focus is some of the most intense I’ve been a part of since I started gaming.

There are an awful lot of QTE moments in The Walking Dead as well, most of which are fine but I don’t hate QTE’s as much as most of the gaming press.  There are moments where you have to move the cursor over a certain area and then press a button to complete an action and you only have seconds to accomplish it.  There’s a few times where I did wonder what I was supposed to do and died on more than one occasion but your put right back at the start of the small section.  You’ll never lose too much progression but these are the only parts of the game that aren’t as polished as others.

The game also has technical hiccups with the occasional dialogue being missed and I’ve even had a few instances of pupils missing from characters eyes.  But don’t let these minor technical discretions put you off getting involved and diving into this emotional ride.

There’s a good ten to twelve hours of narrative here that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The Walking Dead: The Game Season 1 is a powerful experience and will stay with me for a long time to come.

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