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Not Just a Video Game
on November 20, 2013
The Game of the Year edition includes all five episodes, the special episode `400 Days' and digital access to exclusive content (the original soundtrack and a behind the scenes video). There couldn't be a better time to catch up, as the Telltale Games recently announced the release of Season Two and are currently accepting Pre-orders.
Gamers are aware of the crowded world of zombies, but The Walking Dead is not like many games in the genre, it is not a first person shooter or an open world carnage fest of weapons and gore. Instead, it is a story driven point and click emotional roller coaster of a game, where your decision making has far-reaching consequences, resulting in the life or death of those around you. You must navigate this world, investigate your surroundings, solve puzzles, interact with other survivors and manage quick time events.
If you are a fan of the TV show you might often ask yourself why certain individuals make the decisions they do, and swear, sometimes loudly from your couch that you would have done things differently. This is where this game shines. You make the decisions. You decide how to handle dissent amongst your group members, who to feed when food supplies are low and your moral compass is tested by everything from whether to steal food, to lie your way out of trouble, to keep secrets and whether or not you will kill or be merciful. At times, it seems as if killing just might be the same as being merciful. It is up to you to decide, but the consequences affect everyone.
I began the game with the strategy that I would need other people to survive, and in order to maintain a relationship with them; I would need to be honest, helpful, compassionate and democratic. I thought this behavior would prove best. I was still horrified at what happened during my game play. In a post apocalyptic world such as what exists in The Walking Dead, choosing simply to be good or bad is anything but simple. The goal is survival and that can mean doings `bad' things for the greater `good'. It makes the Walking Dead a horrifying, regretful and depressing world as much as it is a moving, emotional and unforgettable one.
You play as Lee Everett, a man in an already regretful situation, handcuffed in the back of a police car on his way to prison for murder when the outbreak begins. Your first encounter is with an endearing, intelligent and frightened eight-year-old girl named Clementine. You quickly realize that her parents are missing, having been out of town during the outbreak and that her babysitter looks like a cross between week-old-cereal and a gutted cherry pie. Lee is fierce in his devotion to Clementine, and Clementine is a bright, hopeful and absolutely endearing soul in a world that houses the most horrid outcomes of human consumption ever conceived. Clementine is as bright as she is amusing and the relationship between Lee and Clementine make the stark, horrible occurrences of a world where the living can be more dangerous than the dead, worth enduring.
If you want to run through the streets bashing in zombie faces and shooting wildly like a blood soaked cowboy you are best to try other zombie games. You have plenty of contact with the zombies and yes, you get to smash heads, chop off heads and shoot through decayed brain matter, but that is not what you will spend the majority of your time doing. You are a leader, a protector and you are best served to observe what is happening around you and within your group, keep a level head and try to think ahead. Still, you will be surprised at where your choices lead you. No one experience will be the same.
The character acting and story line is strong and add to the development of the game. You cannot help but be drawn into what is happening around you. You will face death, you will see others face death and even decide whose life to save. You will make all of life's toughest choices and you will take yourself and your group through the consequences of each one, however slight or severe. Tell Tale Games has set that up quite well and crafted not just a game, but also an experience.
If you are looking for a little more story and reflection in your game play this is a solid choice. The characters are memorable as is the journey. I am off to contemplate my choices. I often find myself thinking I could have chosen better, but in a world like The Walking Dead you have to wonder whether you are exchanging one danger for another, or if you simply going to survive, no matter the cost.