I sat down to my computer on Thursday night with a notebook, a pen and Steam’s client opened on my desktop. I copied the review code we received from Telltale games into the correct box and waited as The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day quickly downloaded. This is my normal routine for sure, but I wasn’t expecting to play what is likely one of the best point and click action/interactive titles of the last 10 years.
Telltale seems to have got almost everything right in their approach to turning The Walking Dead into a video game. You take control of a story about a man with questionable morals, and shape that story over the course of the game.
Our main character is Lee Everett, and from what can be gathered about him during the intro is that he may or may not have killed a man. During the game’s natural course of events, you’ll come across a young girl named Clementine who will be in your care as you progress through the game.
This is when things really start to get interesting. The game is far more about dialogue and interaction with other characters than it is combat. While speaking with someone, you’ll have a limited amount of time to respond to their inquiries, and what you say will have consequences.
You don’t have the ability to take back your choices, and characters can and will remember both your words and your actions. If you’re not careful about how you speak to those in the group you may find yourself caught in a web of lies of your own making.
Action is handled in a similar manner as you’ll once again have a limited amount of time to react during a situation. Fortunately, this game mechanic serves to heighten the tension of the moment. You may find aiming and clicking on the appropriate targets during combat more difficult and panic inducing than you’d initially expect.
Replay value here is plentiful in the game as well. Since you have to stick with the choices you’ve made during a play through there is quite a bit you may not have seen the first time. You can reverse pivotal choices you’ve made and take a look on the other side of the fence if you so choose. On the up side, the Episode isn’t so long that you can’t just start back at the beginning and play through the episode in an entirely different way.
The Walking Dead is a joy to take in visually. It’s not going to win any awards but the cell shaded look of the game fits well with the imagery, and those of you who have read the comic will appreciate the work put into the world and characters.
People think I’m crazy for this, but one of my favorite metrics to use when judging a zombie movie or game is Gone with the Wind. While the comparison isn’t universally apt, it does serve its purpose.
How does a group of people act, react, and coexist with an ever present threat? In Gone with the Wind, it’s Sherman’s March that’s always there in the back of everyone’s mind. It’s coming, it’s there and it will soon be upon us.
You see the best zombie movies aren’t about zombies. I could care less about the gore; give me the tension of a group of survivors about to tear themselves apart before they ever see a shuffling corpse and you’ll have me hooked.
This is of course the very reason some may take issue with the title. The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day isn’t a zombie movie, it’s a video game. It could end up being a game that leaves many with a displeasing taste in their mouths. You’re not Rambo here, and you won’t be mowing down legions of the undead with a chainsaw.
The Walking Dead is ultimately a title about social interaction with an apocalyptic backdrop, and the choices that a person has to make when placed in such a situation. This first chapter in the series has given us a taste of what may truly end up being a great story on par with the source material.
Overall Score: 9/10
Judgment: Buy it!