[OOC/Screenshots] The Walking Dead

( I was too preoccupied to take screenshots most of the game, but when I remembered, I couldn’t find where they saved. So I stole this one, sorry! )

This isn’t a “review” per se, just my thoughts about the game. I needed some time to process and collect my thoughts after finishing. I am not really a fan of zombie fiction in general, I feel that it’s a bit overdone and predictable. Yet I do love horror fiction, and I’d heard really good things about this one. I paid $15 for all 5 Episodes — the game was released in sections called episodes. This is a new approach and I think it would be very effective (but maybe a little frustrating!) making people wait to see what happens next. Of course, I bought them all at once so I didn’t have to wait. At the price I paid, I feel like I absolutely got my money’s worth. The normal price is $25, which I feel is a little expensive for what you get. It’s really more of an immersive story than a “game”, about your relationships with the shifting cast of characters and the tough choices you have to make. Literally, within seconds — there’s a timer counting down while zombies are banging at the door.

There are puzzles, kind of. These mostly involve exploring an area and finding the right item you’re supposed to interact with. The game makes this pretty obvious, and it’s basically impossible to fail at these. There are also “panic events” where you need to act much more quickly — grab someone’s hand, shoot a zombie in the head, back away fast. These you can fail at, and the game is kind enough to show you the gruesome result if you do. A large part of this is that the controls are sometimes a bit unclear, and they’re inconsistent between events. Sometimes you need to push one button for an action, and other times it’s a different one. This is a minor complaint though, and hopefully will be fixed if they release any future episodes. Fortunately, it’s also very forgiving and restarts you where you were, so you don’t have to backtrack. I certainly appreciated this when I was stuck at one spot.

The game is based (sort of) on the comic, so it’s done in a drawn style that is reminiscent of that. I feel like this is really effective, firstly because it allows for exaggerated expressions which really telegraph emotion well. Just look at the screenshot above to see what I mean! I don’t think it would have been half as effective with super-realistic characters. I say it’s “sort of” based on the comic, because it’s the same world and setting, but different characters. Though apparently, some of them do show up in the comic. This story takes place before the one in the comic.

You play Lee, a man with a secret in his past — he’s in the center of the screenshot at the very back. Much of the story focuses on your relationships with the other characters — conflicts, alliances, choosing sides. Having you be an active participant in everything that happens really makes the events resonate when they do happen. I found myself reacting instantly and just going along with that first feeling. That’s why I feel that I wouldn’t be able to do another play-through, I think it would be difficult to suppress and go against my first instinct. Most of the time, I had Lee try to be the rational leader and be as fair as he could. But I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes he acted based on pure emotion, and a few times out of vengeance. The most chilling thing I read about this game is that the title doesn’t refer to the zombies.

The story is really well done. While you know what’s likely to happen — zombies are gonna eat people — that doesn’t change the emotional punch. I’m still reeling from Episode 3, and the end of 4 where I realized the grim turn that the characters must soon take. And my ending was genuinely touching, I really have to give praise to the writers here. Admittedly, I’m curious about what would be different if I made different choices — if I had chosen one person instead of the other, for example. I might end up just looking on YouTube or something!

Lastly, this game is gory. Like, really gory. Like, incredibly gory. There was stuff I couldn’t believe I was seeing (or doing!) If you’re squeamish you probably would have a hard time with this game. So make someone else play it and watch them, cover your eyes for the bloody parts 😉

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