The Walking Dead: Episode 1 [Review]
With the rising popularity of The Walking Dead comics and television show, it was only a matter of time before there would be a video game based on the series. The fear a lot of people have with turning a series so popular into a game is the likely possibility that the developers mess up the story. leaving gamers with just another zombie game. Tell Tale games and Skybound are taking a different approach to what has become the staple for most zombie games, and the risk they took was well worth it.
The game puts you in the shoes of a man named Lee who is being hauled off to a prison in a cop car right before zombies start dominating the land. Through a string of short events, Lee runs into a little girl named Clementine and puts it on himself to take care of this girl during this tragic event. The story in just the first episode is well written and very well thought out. So far in just the first episode, there aren’t that many consequences that happen due to some decisions but hopefully some of my decision will have repercussions in later episodes.
The Walking Dead Episode 1 could have visually taken any route the developers wanted to go. They could have gone for a more realistic look like the show, but instead Tell Tale games decided to go the more comic book feel. The characters have this Borderlands look about them and it works for the most part. Some of the areas could have used a bit more work, but each character looks well represented. The graphics are well put together, but there is still room for a little improvement in some departments like some of the more scenic locations as well as mouth movement when characters talk.
The music is well kept together and lets the player know when a tense situation is going on or when it’s time to lower your guard. The score is rather forgettable, but the voice acting definitely stands out. For the most part, everyone sounds and acts pretty well and actually made me feel for some of the survivors and the situation they are being forced into. The voice work was well done, but some of the characters can sometimes come off as too stereotypical and actually hurts that character’s development for me. It kind of worries me, but since it is just the first episode, things can change.
The game play is more like Heavy Rain than it is any other game I’ve played. There are sections where you will have to react to quick time events, or search nearby tools to get yourself out of a sticky situation. This game focuses heavily on making snap decisions during intense moments, and these decisions play a major role in this game in more ways than one.
There are situations where quick choices need to be made, and the effects of those decisions can be seen immediately. This is where the game shines the most. The adrenaline rush I got when in a tense situation with emotions high and zombies only being a breath away were some of the best moments. The game did a good job of keeping me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next.
The one major problem I have with the main game play is moving around with Lee in between the high intense scenes. There are times where you will have control of Lee in certain areas, and the camera and character remind me of the bad camera angles and movement of old horror games. Walking around took some time to get used to, but luckily, there isn’t much of it.
I did enjoy the conversations and the puzzle solving in some situations. A lot of the puzzles are easy to do, though. A lot of them are item search quests that can be completed by looking around or talking to people. Fortunately, the conversations are interesting and reveal a bit more about what is going on with each character. They are a crucial part to deciding some major life or death decisions and how it will affect the group dynamic going on into the next episodes.
One of the other problems I have is that the game can be finished in no time flat. Steam clocked me in at 84 minutes to finish my first play through of the first episode. Luckily, the game has so many different decisions that require multiple plays to get the whole experience. This was actually one of the first things I did when the game ended. There are 3 save slots so you can carry those saves to the next episode. The game also has a rewind feature during the game if you want to go back and change a decision for that save game. The only thing I have against this is that it takes away some of the consequence to your actions. If you don’t like something you can just rewind and redo it, and to me that takes away from the importance of my decisions.
Tell Tale and Skybound have something promising here with The Walking Dead Episode 1, and as long as the story stays this entertaining the small problems in the game can easily be overlooked. There are still 4 more episodes to come and the best compliment I can give this game is that I cannot wait to play the rest of the story. I am dying to find out what happens next with Lee, Clementine, and the rest of the survivors. The Walking Dead has something good going for it despite some missteps here and there. If you really enjoy a good story or are a fan of the series, definitely pick this game up and get ready to enjoy the ride.