Zombies are everywhere. Well not literally, of course… you would either be battling the hordes of undead or eating brains (but definitely not reading this review). Zombies are in everything from books (Pride and Prejudice with Zombies) to movies (Warm Bodies, World War Z) to music (Rob Zombie). The Walking Dead (both the graphic novel and the TV show) is arguably the most famous portrayal of zombies of them all. As such, Telltale Games decided to join the fray and created The Walking Dead: The Game, an original story set in The Walking Dead universe.
The Walking Dead Game Review
Being a fan of the show (though admittedly not having read the graphic novel), I was immediately interested in Telltale’s five-episode romp (zombie-walk?) through The Walking Dead: The Game. However, I was also anxious, as the TV show is very character driven. It was hard to imagine a video game being able to capture the realism of human emotion and interaction and stray from creating a simple hack-and-slash zombie melee. Luckily, Telltale exceeded all my expectations and was one of the best video game experiences I have had in recent memory.
You play as Lee Everett, a native of Macon, Georgia and a former university professor who is on his way to prison after his conviction of killing a state senator. After a stressful encounter with the undead, Lee escapes and finds Clementine, an eight-year-old whose parents had left her with a babysitter for the weekend before the outbreak began. Lee and Clementine form an immediate bond and set out to find their way in the madness that has ensued.
The Walking Dead: The Game is an adventure game. What separates it from other adventure games, however, is the lack of puzzles and focus on character interaction. You see, you will make lots of decisions in this game… very tough decisions I might add. Every choice you make (and frankly, everything you say and do) affects how other characters interact with you in future episodes and can even determine which ones offer or refuse to help you when you need it most. Should I save a family’s eight-year-old boy (whom I just met) or the farmer’s adult son that helped us escape from peril? Each choice provides a different outcome and a different path for Lee and Clementine to follow. It makes for a very unique experience, and I often had heated debates with my fiancé as to how to proceed with the story.
But what a story it is! The game is split into five episodes, each one lasting about two hours. Every episode is packed with memorable characters, plot twists, and zombie bashing. Telltale especially outdid themselves with the characters. The voice acting is remarkable and each character is both unique and believable. Not once did I think a character was acting a certain way simply to advance the plot; you come to see them as real people trying to handle the apocalypse in their own way. My fiancé watched me play the entire game, and he even said it was like watching the TV show.
Now, it wouldn’t be a zombie game without zombie deaths, and fear not brave reader… the zombie deaths are plentiful. And gruesome. And plentiful (did I mention there are lots of them)? Whether you’re shooting, stabbing, punching, maiming, or eye-gouging (very vividly, too) zombies, you will be doing a lot of zombie fighting. Being an adventure game, most of these fights will use quick-time events, but it does not hinder the experience one bit. In particular, the aforementioned “eye-gouging” was done by repeatedly mashing the X button, a carefully chosen action that allows you to visualize what it might be like to actually do that to a zombie. Terrifying and awesome.
The Walking Dead: The Game is a truly memorable experience. All five episodes are available, so you don’t even have to wait for months in between to see how the story ends! There is even an additional story, 400 Days, that ties this game with the upcoming The Walking Dead: The Game (Season 2) that you can play right now as well. If you have played The Walking Dead: The Game yet, you really should. Whether you enjoy an engrossing story with a plethora of characters or gruesome zombie deaths by the hundreds, this game will stick in your brain like a perfectly placed axe to a zombie’s head.