When The Walking Dead game from Telltale came out awhile ago, I played through about 30 minutes of it and quit, somehow I just wasn’t feeling it. When the second episode premiered the other day, I decided it was time to check it out again. All of a sudden I was well entrenched in the game and found it hard to put down. I think I know why though: The Walking Dead game is not a traditional adventure game or really much of a game at all, its best played as an interactive story.
Sure, there’s some adventure game elements to it, you do need to pickup various objects littered around the scene and use them to progress the story, but these parts of the game feel more like interludes. The parts of the world you need to interact with are colored by easy-to-find white spots, thereby eliminating the pixel-hunt. I’ve never been a big pixel-hunting fan, but it at least feels like I’m finding something, this just feels like the game is pushing me toward the next story point every time.
But I did say I was enjoying myself, so what kept me going? It was when I realized that the game shares a lot of the same hidden tension as the television show. The conversations between characters aren’t exactly deep or thought-provoking, but they’ll have you considering your responses carefully. When the game gives you only a few seconds to choose, it really shows your true character. There’s also the occasional important decision you’ll need to make, sometimes when somebody’s life is at stake. Yes, you’ll even need to choose between 2 different lives in a few parts. When you watch a character do that on a TV show its hard to watch, but whenyou need to do it then it feels like a part of your soul is being robbed. That’s the sort of thing that kept me coming back.
I’d recommend checking out the game for the story pacing and the surprisingly good formula Telltale has put together here, but leave most of your other expectations at home. Combat is satisfying, but very easy and scripted, like a QTE. The gameplay in general is something you can blow through in one sitting without failing. Even the story and characters can be a bit droll, but they do have a few shades of complexity and they can say some pretty tough shit.
The story is possibly the weakest part so far, the game doesn’t tread quite the same “holy crap, did that just happen?” territory as the comic or the TV show, but that might have more to do with the fact that we’re pretty familiar with the universe by now. In time they may find a good rhythm.