Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead hit the ground running with its first and still strong comic series. Since its initial release, this comic series has spawned a massively popular TV series (even now) that loosely follows the story set in the source material, as well as a series of best-selling novels.
But the video game adaption of the beloved series was something different.
The Walking Dead: The Game
Most will think that the first game is a spin-off of the TV show due to its popularity, however, that’s not the case here. The Walking Dead game is based on the comics.
What does this mean for the casual fan of the TV series? Well, not much since the show follows the comic fairly well, however, the game’s characters are based on the comic representations rather than the show, and we don’t follow the beloved protagonist Rick Grimes – like the comic and TV series do.
Instead, we follow this series of games with a brand new character to the canon named Lee. It takes place during the first few days of the zombie outbreak, which is when Rick Grimes is still in a coma from his horrific shooting. This was a fresher take on the series since most of what people have seen in the show or comics is set in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse.
Without giving away too much of the story, if you’ve yet to play it, I’ll just say the basics. Lee was your normal run-of-the-mill college professor who happened to be arrested for a crime he may or may not have committed, and on your way to the famous prison (set in the series), all hell breaks loose. The car crashes, and you find a girl named Clementine, whose parents are missing in this worldwide catastrophe. You and Clem set out to, well, survive.
The game hinges on the most important thing: surviving and choices. I was pleasantly surprised to find timed responses as well as how these choices affected all of your group’s perception of you, and what repercussions will come with all the decisions I’ve made.
The one thing that newcomers to the series will probably not like is the gameplay. The more casual gamer will probably buy this game solely thinking that it’s a shooter much like Valve’s Left 4 Dead. That’s not the case here though. The Walking Dead game, and its series, are different; they are point and click adventure games with more dialogue (and less killing of the undead). I actually found this to be a fantastic approach, and I still play the game today.
The gameplay was smooth and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire way. One of the most interesting aspects that I discovered in the game was the use of silence which created so much tension; I was actually nervous when I first entered Clementine’s house.
This isn’t, and wasn’t, a perfect game though.
There are some hiccups with the rendering between cutscenes and gameplay for example. Not a huge problem, but it was noticeable enough. My other complaint was the voice acting. At times it was great, but at other times I found myself laughing with the way Lee, as well as others, talked in certain situations. With moods drastically changing from being OK to suddenly furious in the conversations after critical decisions were made.
Fans of the series, like me, were delighted just to see a few of their favourite characters, such as Hershel Greene, Glenn, Lilly and others make appearances. But the game was more than that. It was better than anyone thought it would be. Much better.
Telltale Games crafted a five-part series that left many, many happy fans. And you know what? I still don’t think they’ve beaten it to this day.