Entertaining Peery: The Walking Dead by Telltale Games

August 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

I have an axe, in the woods, but I ain’t here for wood.

Readers of this blog probably know we love The Walking Dead. So without further ado here is the video game adaptation review.

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead is a great example of what can happen if a developer revives one of video games’ long neglected genre: the adventure game. My own PC gaming history begins with Sierra Online’s catalog of adventure that included favorites such as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Hero’s Quest, Phantasmagoria, and who can forget Leisure Suit Larry.

Different from what would become more traditional RPGs where the player creates the details of their avatar, adventure games set the back-story and characters that the player would guide through the story. Some may argue that it diminishes player experience, but it gives designers the ability to craft a more intimate story tied to the characters. To this end, there have even been some attempts to root a specific common back-story to “custom” player avatars in recent games such as Dragon Age and Fallout 3.

The Walking Dead has players taking the role of Lee Everett, a UGA professor convicted of murdering a politician that was sleeping with his wife. The murder may or may not have been in self-defense. In a twist of fate, Lee is given a second chance on life by the outbreak of Walkers.

Almost immediately the player meets the little girl Clementine, who by circumstances becomes Lee’s ward. She becomes the moral compass by which most of Lee’s actions are judged by the game’s systems.  Along the way, Lee meets with Hershel and Glenn who are also featured in the excellent AMC storyline. (I have not read the graphic novels so won’t assume they are from there.)

There are some hard decisions the player will have to make for Lee and sometimes there are no “right” answers. The game’s aesthetic is similar to the comic book, yet animated, and comes off very well. The “zones” or as they used to be called “screens” in old-school adventure games, remind me very much of the classic adventure games. There are features to manipulate and examine, not all of which are immediately useful, or have any apparent use. I must have had Lee look a newspaper clipping six or seven times before I determined they were just for “flavor.” One other interesting feature of the game is the stat tracker telling you what percentage of players choose certain paths compared to your choices.

So far Telltale has released two episodes of the game and I burned through both very quickly, even for me, the game is THAT intriguing. I think it will appeal to those who may not necessarily be fans of the zombie genre or old-timer adventure games enthusiasts like me simply because it is a well-made game.

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