Rating: 4 out of 5
The first time I shot a zombie in the face was one of the most memorable moments of the game — I kicked my way out of a crashed police car and loaded a shotgun that I immediately used on an approaching walker. I had not expected an adventure game to actually require aiming a weapon, let alone fast thinking and button mashing.
“The Walking Dead” is a popular TV show, comic book and now a five episode video game series. Telltale has worked its trademark point-and-click adventure magic in “The Walking Dead” universe with a story that revolves around Lee Everett, a university professor on his way to jail for a murder charge.
This is not your run-of-the-mill video game. As a point-and-click adventure, “The Walking Dead” manages to successfully modernize the genre. Puzzles are not simply static screens with which you interact by clicking. Lee moves around the 3D environments while interacting with walkers, weapons, people, and everyday objects in satisfying ways.
Telltale’s system works really well for what it is. Conversations are not just cut scenes — they are an interaction between you and the characters in the game. Dialog options usually involve picking sides in fights or highlighting a specific emotion, but playing a story-focused game that actually gives you some control over the story is great.
The decisions you make during the course of the game do not alter the ending, but they do change the characters you will see along the way and how they will react to you. “The Walking Dead” does a good job of telling you how you are changing the experience, as it warns you in moments when someone will remember your actions or responses.
These are not technically advanced games, and the basic gameplay does falter at points. I found myself getting tired of the sometimes aggravatingly slow movement in certain scenes. Being forced to open every cabinet in a kitchen to look for supplies is not fun either.
What really makes “The Walking Dead” an incredible experience are the characters that fill the game. Early on in the first episode, Lee finds a little girl named Clementine and takes her under his wing. Their relationship is the highlight of the entire series. Although the other characters fill different roles and complete the story, Lee and Clementine are the focus throughout. All of the characters are interesting, and Telltale leaves it up to you to decide how Lee responds.
This adventure game opens the door to the genre; there are few moments that require you to hunt for pixels, and the story is not at all humorous. This is a serious game that manages to conjure up meaningful situations that end up telling a sad and inspiring, yet beautiful, story. Aside from some tedious puzzles, “The Walking Dead” is a series of polished games that put the plotline above all else.