I’ll admit, I didn’t get a good impression starting out. I’ve never liked that cell shaded graphics style and while it evolved into something beautiful in later games, the first of the series looked quite tacky.
Next thing to put me off was the fact that this really isn’t much of a game. It’s more like an interactive movie where you choose your dialogue and press the right button at the right time. Most point and click adventures give you various items and you have to combine, use or examine the right one in the right context to solve puzzles and therein lies the challenge. Walking Dead, however, tells you what item to use where. It even shows you where to click…not that you can’t figure this out for yourself. This takes away any challenge and minimises the playable experience.
I couldn’t understand why it was getting so many positive reviews. I figured I must be missing something, so I persisted. The visual style that I initially hated started to grow on me a little. Although far from impressive, the graphics give the game character. Instead of perceiving this game as serious and cinematic, I accepted it as an animated comic book.
As for the playability, I stand by my original judgement. Walking Dead offers very little gameplay or challenge and solving puzzles doesn’t require any thought. However, this time round, I decided to accept it for what it is and embrace the interactive movie experience.
Within an hour, I found myself completely hooked! The storytelling is outstanding and does a great job of capturing the tension and despair of classic zombie movies. The characters are great too, very well acted and evolve in a natural way. I actually started to feel a bond with some of the characters and while I’ll often act like a complete lunatic when given any freedom in video games, there were characters in this game I really felt for and whose friendship I wanted to cultivate.
What I actually found was that my own personality and morality started to reflect in the game and my decisions came from the heart. At times this can be very challenging and can leave you feeling real emotional turmoil.
This is where Walking Dead really shines. Unlike most adventure games that give you a list of lines to say, and actions that lead you along a set path, your choices will often have consequences and can even determine whether some characters live or die.
Although this isn’t new to gaming, I have never seen it done this well. So while the game lacks traditional gameplay and challenges, it gives you a completely different dimension of interaction, one based on emotional attachment or resentment, morality, spur of the moment decisions and, in some scenarios, even fear.
Unlike most zombie fiction that’s all about blood, guts and mass killing of zombies, Walking Dead is handled in such a mature and thoughtful way. As much as I hate to admit it, there were a few times I started welling up with tears.
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Time Played: Over 20 hours
Difficulty: Just Right