in Review

The Walking Dead Episodes 1-3

That second season of The Walking Dead was rough. Not that we didn’t see it coming when the show never really could live up to its amazing pilot in the first season, but man. That was a whole lot of nothing they made us watch. Enough to make some people quit watching the show. Enough to make me completely lose interest in checking out the graphic novels that birthed this whole media empire to begin with. But now I’m excited for the show to come back, and it’s not because of the show at all. It’s because of video games.

Crafted by the adventure game gurus at Telltale – the guys behind Sam & Max, Back to the Futre and the unfortunate Jurassic ParkThe Walking Dead is a lot like those games. It’s episodic, with three episodes out now and the final two coming this year. The actual gameplay is extremely simple, mostly just problem solving and the occasional action moments that play out like quick time events. But the actual playing of the game is the least attractive part of this package.

It’s the story that makes The Walking Dead great. Basically, this is a really dark zombie-themed chose-your-own adventure. You play as Lee, a man with a mysterious past (obviously) who is riding in a police car out of Atlanta when all the zombie shit goes down. The first episode takes Lee on a journey of survival, introducing the main characters, namely Clementine, a little girl Lee takes under his protection; Kenny, a fisherman who was on vacation and Kenny’s wife and son. The first episode uses cameo appearances from the main cast of the comic and show to help get you in, but by the second episode, the game is standing on its own legs.

I’m not really going to talk about the plot, since it changes based on your play and is the primary reason to get this game, but I will say the second episode is a great horror in a messed up place story, and the third episode is an extremely dark on the road tale. Seriously, I did some pretty messed up stuff in this game, stuff so grim I can’t remember any other game doing.

Every time Lee is called upon to make a decision, there is a timer, and if you don’t chose something, Lee doesn’t say anything. This means you have to make a lot of snap judgements, and the choices are never easy. Telltale has done a great job of making it so I second guessed myself all the time, but never felt cheated or like I needed to replay a section, which the game does allow you to do.

The rest of the gameplay is pretty weak. You can go around and pick up clues to solve puzzles and there’s some action that’s not really fun but also not so terrible I had a problem with it. Basically quicktime events with slight aiming, not a big deal. I have heard some people struggle with the controls and die a lot, that sucks but it wasn’t an issue for me.

The Walking Dead is a really great game. It’s on like every platform, even iOS, and you can choose to buy the whole season or just an episode if you like. When they make it so easy, why wouldn’t you want to check it out? Because you don’t like zombies? This is better than that. Because you don’t like games? It’s probably not like any game you’ve played. Because you specifically dislike The Walking Dead franchise? Fair enough.