Better known as the graphic novels and TV series, The Walking Dead franchise has now made the leap into the interactive dimension. Helmed by Telltale Games, who are famous for their takes on Back to the Future and Monkey Island, The Walking Dead follows their tried and tested formula of creating bite-sized adventure games in episodic form.
The events of The Walking Dead are split across five episodes that are roughly two hours each. While that might not seem like much considering the fact that only the first two episodes are out, you could do a lot worse at roughly Rs. 300 a pop. A plus point with this adventure is that you don't need to be a fan of the series to enjoy it as it has all new characters and minor links to the show and comics.
Nonetheless, the first two episodes are expertly done. You control Lee Everett, a university teacher who is on his way to jail for a crime that is revealed to you much later. As things would have it, you soon find yourself wounded and surrounded by zombies.
The story plays out more like a drama rather than a ballsto- the-wall action extravaganza.
Before you know it, you're hopping from one town to the next in search of food, ammo and shelter from what seems to be a zombie apocalypse. In tow is Clementine, a young child who helps you stave off an undead baby sitter. How you react to the grueling scenarios you're beset with affect her actions and opinion of you as the game progresses, which may be crucial in the unreleased final episodes. Throw in the moral necessity of behaving, or at least trying to behave, as a responsible person in the presence of kids, and another level of tension is added to the affairs at hand.
Along the way, you'll meet survivors looking for some solace in a world that's now a wasteland of rotting flesh. From a feisty journalist who is a dead shot with a pistol to a tough-as- nails, cantankerous retired army commander, there are a host of likeable (and not-so-likeable) characters that make your journey a lot more memorable. Your choices decide their fate (more on that later) and partly because they're so damn well characterised - each has their own backstory and unique traits - you're laced with regret if your actions result in any of them dying.
2 Episodes out already
The gameplay is divided into three parts. You find yourself interacting with various survivors, solving puzzles and eventually defending yourself against the odd zombie or two. The controls are well thought out. The console version has you using the right analogue stick to select in-game objects or characters while the left has you moving Lee around an area. It's simple and elegantly done with no room for complication. When you end up encountering a zombie, you have to mash down buttons as they're displayed on screen. It isn't as hectic as God of War or Bayonetta, but it does enough to add the necessary tension to a situation.
In terms of graphics, the series has an appearance reminiscent of the comics with a seemingly hand-drawn approach. The animations are slick and effective while the voice acting is extremely believable. All in all, Telltale has done a fine job of creating an atmosphere that has you completely immersed.
Be careful what choices you make they determine the fate of the other survivors
The story plays out more like a drama rather than a ballsto- the-wall action extravaganza that most games with zombies tend to be. If we were to draw comparisons, The Walking Dead is more Heavy Rain than Left4Dead. There's a strong focus on characterisation and emotional pay-off over shooting the undead in the face. The story is deep with some interesting events that unfold just as you think things are slowing down. The writers have done a fine job of making sure the game holds your attention. It's well-paced enough to keep you going through an entire two-hour episode at a stretch. While we can't comment on the twists and turns that it will take in the next three episodes, the first two have some hard hitting moments that have you wondering how things may have been if you'd chosen differently.
As we mentioned earlier, your choices determine the fate of the other survivors. On playing and replaying several of these events, certain outcomes will remain the same no matter what, while others would result in one character living instead of another. What does change after you make your choice is the impression the others have of you and eventually, the social equation you have with them, regardless of the result. This affects future episodes, previews for which are seen when you're done with the current episode. A large chunk of how events unfold depends on what terms you are on with your fellow survivors. They take note of what you've said and who you have sided with.
Social niceties aside, this is one game trophy hunters and achievement whores would definitely want to pick up. You can easily max out the game's trophies or achievements in a single playthrough as you're rewarded for completing storybased objectives. The only grouse is you can only get that elusive platinum trophy or 1000/1000 gamer score if you play through all five episodes. Three of the five are yet to be released, which, in our opinion, are taking too long to come out. We're saying this partly based on how good the first two episodes were.
At roughly Rs. 1,000 for the season pass (depending on the digital distribution store), which gives you access to the two episodes already out and the three yet to come, The Walking Dead represents very good value for money. It has fantastic writing, great characters and well-paced entertainment. If you're looking to do far worse with your money, look elsewhere. As it stands, this is one of the better deals in gaming at the moment.
Updated 23 May, 2013, 4:07 pm IST
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