I’ve read some of the comic (sorry, Graphic Novel), missed out on the TV series, and somehow only just got around to playing Episode 1 even though I bought the game when Telltale first released it. I’m not quick on the uptake, am I?
The Walking Dead (WD), the video game, places you in the shoes of Lee, convicted of being a murderer. He’s being taken to prison when the cop car he’s in hits a zombie and crashes, rendering Lee unconscious. Once awakening Lee sees that the cop is outside the car, dead, and he still has to work out how to get out of the locked car…
A bit further on, Lee comes across Clementine, a young girl now orphaned by the zombie apocalypse and takes her under his wing.
I’ve been mulling over how I feel about WD ever since I started playing Episode 1. I’ve now started Episode 2 and I’m still not sure.
There are certainly some things I really like about the game. The timed decisions are something I’m mostly a fan of. Especially when it comes to the difficult choices. It often comes down to reacting, rather than thinking, which helps the atmosphere enormously.
I definitely love the atmosphere of the game, and the majority of the characters. Or rather, I like the way the characters are portrayed, even if I think a particular character is a jerk. To an extent, while I may not care about a character’s well-being, I do often care how they react to my choices – which can often end up being the same thing.
I love the way the game tugs at my emotions so effectively, and often makes me tense (in a good way). Sometimes this is from the dialogue choices, sometimes from the “action” choices where I have to choose between two things quickly, and sometimes it’s just from the tension generated by the current situation. It does make it a somewhat exhausting game to play – but in a good way.
I’m not often so fond of the quicktime events. I understand their place here, and can say that they’re reasonably well executed – but I still think they’re a mistake.
One thing I’m really not fond of, and it took me a while to work this out, was how Lee reacts in certain situations. Now, I’m often the one watching a movie who gets impatient and irritated when characters pause when they should be running – and that’s pretty much a given when you’re talking some kind of zombie apocalypse. I’m also the type of person who tends to react in a situation, get the job done, then collapse later. So in a game, where my character is pausing, going slow, having some kind of emotional inner turmoil or whatever, while there’s a horde of freakin’ zombies not ten feet from him, then I get annoyed, and frustrated. I think the reason I get more frustrated with this while playing a game is that I’m supposed to be in control, but at the same time, your character behaves as your character behaves …
Episode 1 has also thrown up a few moments where I just look at the game and go “what the?!”, where something has taken me out of the plot because it seems to make little sense given what I know of a situation. They’re probably not that serious in terms of plot points, but I really hate being dragged out of immersion.
I’ve now started on Episode 2, but just barely, and already I’m shaken with one of the choices presented. So it seems that the atmosphere and tension from Episode 1 is still alive and well in Episode 2.
I guess the big question is: whether I’d recommend the game to friends or not? Truthfully, I think they’d have to be a fan of this style of adventure game – since there are still many adventure game style puzzles, and also of the whole zombie motif. If those two were true, I’d recommend it. But I’d also recommend they don’t play if they’re not doing well emotionally for some reason.
Which probably says a lot about how effective it is.