May 21, 2012
The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day puts players in the role of Lee Everett, a man newly convicted of a serious crime, and who is on his jolly way to be incarcerated. The game pulls no punches, as the transport he is in quickly finds a new hood ornament, sending them careening off and right into the middle of an alarming number of nasty, and hungry, new friends, thus commencing the thrilling experience that is The Walking Dead.
Throughout the game, Lee will encounter new friends and foes, some of which are not even of the undying type. NPC characters will react to Lee depending on his interactions with them, and player choice becomes very apparent here as these decisions will affect the outcomes of whatever situations you and Lee find yourselves in. You will undoubtedly find yourselves attached to some of these characters, while highly averse to others. Remain loyal to someone, and they will certainly repay it back. Piss them off and, well, you can imagine.
The story is nicely paced, with plenty of exciting set pieces to expect. That said, the plot isn′t all too original, and can be rather predictable. It doesn′t really detract from the experience, however, as they are directed well enough to constantly hit those emotional points, be they anguish, sorrow, or shock value.
The Walking Dead plays out quite simply. While it is a 3D game, it is more or less a point-and-click adventure. You can explore an area with the movement keys, while checking out points of interests by clicking them. Depending on the context, you will be given options to examine, use, take or give an item. Moreover, set pieces will at times require the execution of a quick-time event, or hitting the right on-screen prompts to get out of tight spots. These mechanics work together to craft a fun and intense survival experience.
As mentioned earlier, choice is an important aspect of the game. Players will make these choices mostly during conversations with other characters. Some of these are timed, forcing you to quickly make a decision. Other times, decisions are made in the heat of an action scene. Some of these are pretty big decisions, and may completely change your experience. It adds a fair amount of replay value, since after the first play-through, you will likely find an inkling to discover what happens if you had chosen another option instead.
That said, conversations can come across as dull, as most of the options are relatively vague, or similar to one another. For a game where choice has such high standing, it′s surprising that there really isn′t much variety regarding it. Thankfully, voice performances are top-notch. Characters are believable, I found myself quite invested in a few of them, and hating one with a passion.
There is a strange juxtaposed tension to the visuals of The Walking Dead. Telltale do well to avoid the gritty, cinematic aesthetic of games such as Silent Hill, even Left 4 Dead. Instead, The Walking Dead employs a more cartoony style, but that′s where that tension is found. Cartoony or not, there is no sense of lightheartedness to it. Death and loss, blood and gore is the name of the game. There are several encounters where Lee has to struggle for his life, some of which end in a gruesome kill scene. Most of these encounters are quite similar to those seen in EA′s horror survival series Dead Space, but there are at least a couple of scenes that make less use of scare factor, and are more somber in tone– the latter of which have been done exceptionally well.
Telltale have another gem on their hands. While not the most intriguing of point-and-click adventures, let alone challenging, The Walking Dead is an enjoyable and well-paced experience. Fans of the show are recommended to check it out, as are point-and-click enthusiasts. The story is predictable, but somber and emotionally charged. Gameplay is simple and really easy to pick up while performances from the voice actors are quite well done. It feels quite like you′re playing an episode of the show.