Review: The Walking Dead – Episode 1

Well, that’s not what I expected from a video game based on The Walking Dead. I figured they would try to pump out a generic 1st person shooter with so much gore, you’d need a waste basket on standby. Foolish me, I was not previously aware that TellTale had been given the license. What a pleasant surprise! It’s like someone actually cares about this franchise. I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m a gigantic Walking Dead fan. I think the show is pretty wildly overrated actually, but we’re not hear to talk about the show or the comics. You’re here for a review of Episode 1 of The Walking Dead, so let’s jump right in.

First things first, this is just the first episode of six. So don’t freak out when I say had this wrapped up in under 2 hours. Secondly, this probably isn’t the kind of game you might think. It’s a point-click adventure with some panic inducing quick-time events. You’re going to spend more time talking then fighting the undead, but that’s how it should be. Walking along straight paths and using people around you and the environment to solve puzzles while making dialogue decisions. These choices can range in severity from choosing to hide your shady past or not, too choosing who lives and who dies. These are timed decisions as well, so when you do panic and freeze up…it can really lead to some unfortunate stuff. It’s not clear yet how much these decisions will carry into the next episode, but I sure hope they are going to have serious branching off moments. Nothing is better than playing a game and then talking to someone who had a completely different experience with that same game. Choices resulting in real consequence gives everything weight. Which is something a video game rarely achieves.

I actually prefer this protagonist to the one on the television show. He’s got an interesting back story and an apparent character arch I might actually care about. The dialogue is pretty sharp as well. Visually the game leans heavy on cell shading and artistic qualities. It’s very pleasant to look at. While you might assume that since they steered away from realistic visuals, they might side step the gore as well. Not the case. They embrace that part of the fiction with both arms. Hammering zombie heads to a pulp is immensely satisfying. Yes, sometimes the movement controls can perplex you (PC version), but it’s never a deal breaker. The character animation is what really stuck out to me. I know it’s not going for realistic, but it feels very robotic throughout.

Overall, it’s a pretty fun experience and it gets my seal of approval. It wraps up nicely and now I can only sit here and wait for the next episode. I’ll keep the specific episode reviews on the shorter side before going in-depth in favor of a complete series review once all the episodes have been released.

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