Recently, the hit AMC show The Walking Dead hit their mid-season finale (whatever the hell THAT is), and isn’t set to come back until sometime in February. So to tide myself over, I played through all 5 episodes of The Walking Dead game on my PS3.
For those not familiar with The Walking Dead, it was originally a series of graphic novels (which I haven’t read), and was then developed into a TV show and eventually this game series. Oh, and if you didn’t know, there’s zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.
You play as Lee Everett, a former university professor, and as you find out a short bit into chapter 1, a convicted murderer. Because of this, you are immediately faced with a decision: do you play as a nice guy, trying to play the hero and be everyone’s friend, or do you play the game with a “looking out for number one” attitude, and essentially act like a giant douchebag?
The odd thing about this game is that even though you’re playing as Lee, the game is focused around an eight year old girl named Clementine. You stumble upon her shortly after the game’s opening sequence, and you spend the entire 5 episodes doing all that you can to ensure the survival of her as well as yourself, mainly because if something happens to her, like a zombie bite, you get a game over screen.
The other survivors you come across, however, live or die depending on your actions. You are constantly bombarded with “tough decisions”, as the game calls them, regarding which survivor to save, ensuring the other one gets torn to ribbons, or whether or not to shoot a woman who’s being eaten by zombies. You could be humane and shoot her, putting her out of her misery, but that would be a waste of ammo, and the sound of her screaming is keeping the “walkers” focused on her, rather than you as you scavenge all you can from a pharmacy in town.
My favourite aspect of this game, however, is at the end of each episode, it shows the decisions you made through-out that chapter, as well as anyone else who has played, giving a percentage bar of who saved person A versus person B, and so on. It’s interesting to see if you were in the majority or not between the choices. Plus, it sort of tells you what the other option was, if it was not readily apparent at the time of the decision.
This decision making aspect grants a large amount of replay-ability to this game, just to see the consequences of what would happen if you took a different path. Hell, sometimes you make a choice by not even doing anything, and letting the decision time bar at the bottom hit zero. In the infamous words of Rush: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
This story will tug at your heart strings, the cel shading art style is very well done here, and doesn’t make the game look “cartoony” by any stretch of the imagination, and the replay factor will have you wanting to play it multiple times, just to see characters different reactions to you based on decisions you make and other conversations you have (or don’t have) with them.
This isn’t a zombie game in the vein of Deadrising or Dead Island, but an interesting and compelling story set against an apocalyptic background that helps bring peoples true colours out, and shows that even through the worst conditions, there’s always another chance to redeem yourself if you want it.
For anyone looking to buy one or all of the episodes of this series, they are available on PSN, Xbox Live Arcade, PC/Mac, and iPhone/iPad. You can find more information about purchasing at https://www.telltalegames.com/walkingdead