You’ve probably heard all the fuss about Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead Season 1 (our season two review is here!) by now – it was first released in 2012 and received rave reviews. It feels odd reviewing such a well known game but we’re continuing our tradition of reviewing the latest of Microsoft’s and Sony’s monthly freebies (like Dragon Fin Soup and Magicka 2) so stick with us.
The Walking Dead sees you take on the role of Lee Everett, a convicted murdered on his way to prison to serve a life sentence. A typically cheery Walking Dead start then. The officer tasked with driving you to jail likes to talk and, well, he takes his eyes off the road for a little too long (MULTIPLE TIMES), hits a Walker, flips the car and your escape is on! Maybe this zombie apocalypse thing ain’t so bad after all?
While Lee seeks refuge, a scared young girl is hiding out in a tree house. Parents gone and all alone. It’s this house that Lee stumbles across and when Clementine builds up enough courage to reach out to him on her Walkie-Talkie – well, that’s just the start of a beautiful friendship. The game centers around the father-daughter relationship between the two and it makes for one of the most involving pieces of story telling in gaming history.
Like most Telltale games, it’s an adventure game that is probably focused more on telling a story really well (Telltale, gettit?) than having innovative and exciting game play. The game is driven by easily completed quick time events, there’s a bit of button bashing here, quickly pressing in the right direction but nothing that will cause you any bother.
The real meat of the game comes from the dialogue and the relationships that you build up with other characters, not just Clementine. The dialogue works on a timer and you’re prompted to give a response which can range from staying silent to taking an aggressive stance, staying calm, backing up a friend or sitting on the fence. A wide variety of well written characters will respond differently to each choice but ultimately, what they end up thinking about you is more driven by the ‘big’ decisions. Telltale love to throw in these moments where you genuinely don’t know what to do and here’s where that timer works beautifully. Sometimes you’ll panic and immediately after making a choice, you’ll regret it. These decisions, right or wrong, are the ones that really help you to grow closer to other characters. Or they’ll make people more distant and aggressive towards you. The Walking Dead makes you relive every mistake but every now and then it throws you a bone and reinforces those decisions.
At the end of each episode, those big decisions will be used in a summary of what you did and – brilliantly – it shows you the stats for every other player who completed the episode. It’s a simple breakdown of the percentage of players who took that same choice. It’s a little touch but one that I love.
So back to Clementine. She hangs on to your every word. Maybe you’ll try to protect her innocence, or maybe you’ll be harsh with her to toughen her up. Maybe you’ll be straight talking. Maybe you’ll scold her (you monster, how could you!?) when she needs scolding. Whatever road you take, whatever decisions you make, you’ll do it for her. It’s a huge credit to Telltale that they can bring this raw emotion out of you for a video game character.
If you haven’t played The Walking Dead Season 1 – you really REALLY should.
Game purchased by 10lb Gamer with our
The Walking Dead Season One is simply not to be missed, it's one of the finest examples of pure story-telling in video games. It'll drag you along kicking and screaming, heart in mouth.
- Some of the best story-telling in video game history
- Fantastic cast of characters
- Typical QTE gameplay