Tellatale’s episodic The Walking Dead series has been a dark horse of sorts.In an era where point-and-click is almost dead, no one expected a mash of ‘90s point-and-click nostalgia and the current obsession with zombies to do well.But contrary to logic, the game,s actually pretty damn good.Back when Telltale announced a game basedon the zombie apocalypse comic series, eyebrows were raised and concern was felt, especially after the company’s attempt at a point-and-click Jurrasic Park game. However, as soon as Telltale released the first episode, fans of zombie games around the world breathed a sigh of relief.
QTES? IN MY ADVENTURE GAME? GET OUT!
Right off the bat this doesn’t feel like the average zombie game: you hardly kill any zombies at all! Most of your time is spent doing point-and-click adventure things such as solving logic and situation-based puzzels and interacting with the characters. While many would say that the genre is more or less dead, with games from some indie studios and telltale themselves being the only exceptions, The Walking Dead shows that the genre can still get up and hold its own. This felt especially great, as zombies have been done to death-no pun intended-by games and movies. Taking the focus off combat lets Telltale stick to its strengths: writing. And boy does that show! But we’ll get to that later.
This isn’t to say that you don’t kill any zombies at all. After all, how could it be a zombie game if you don’t get to kill any zombies? Except for a few sequences, most of the “combat” is mano-a-mano and is comprised entirely of quick time events, where you’re either mashing a button or trying to crawl away while desperately looking for a weapon to use against the undead. A couple of times, though, the game gives you a rifle and lets you go Commando at the zombies. Now, don’t get your hopes up(or down,depending on taste), the game doesn’t turn into a full-blown Left 4 Dead clone or anything like that. These are just a few sequences that pop up when you’re, for example, covering your fellow survivors as they run for it.
While this may help make the game feel more intense, the gameplay part is lackustre, especially when you have weapons. At other times, the game is a simle point-and-click adventure, with all the good and bad the genre tags. While it has great story and writing-something the genre is famous for-it also suffers from many of the fsults typical to the genre. The biggest being pixel hunting.
Instead of making entire objects interactive, the game employs a node-based system where only certain points on an object can be selected. This is dealt with by making the nodes large-sometimes bigger than the object. This isn’t really a problem if you’re playing with the node visibility enabled. However, this can be a major pain in the ass for purists who prefer the nodes to be hidden, especially when you miss out on important stuff and have to keep backtracking to find the crucial object needed to progress.
A MATURE STORY? IN A GAME? GET OUT!
The Walking Dead seems to be following the recent trend of incorporating very mature and deep storylines. The narrative focuses more on the survivors’ need to survive and the interactions between them. Additionally, the game shows how a zombie apocalypse can bring out the absolute worst in some, while bringing out the best in others. The already dog-eat-dog world becomes more of a man-eats-dog-who’s-eaten another-dude world, as even the survivors in a group start hating each other’s guts. You’ll be witness to many internal power struggles, and will often end up having to defuse the situation.
The game’s biggest strength is its branching story. While not a game-changing feature, what you do changes the story, lending a whole lot of replay value to the game. You’re also encouraged to be very careful with what information you divulge, and to whom. Speaking up, or in other cases, keeping quiet just might be a matter of life and death.
Having said that, the most remarkable aspect of The Walking Dead is the relationship between the protagonist Lee Everett and eight-year-old Clementine. You end up as her guardian of sorts after breaking into her house while looking for help, and after repeated cutscenes illustrating Lee’s bumbling idiocy, you and Clementine decide that it would probably not be a wise idea to stay in a house that’s bang in the middle of a zombie-infested neighborhood Eventually, the relationship transforms into a full-blown surrogate father/daughter dynamic, and you, as a player, actually start getting attached to Clementine and feel protective about her. Clementine and feel protective about her. All of this is helped immensely by the stellar voice acting for all the characters.
NO TESSELLATION? NO DX11? GET OUT!
Not much can be said about the graphics of the game, except that it won’t be used to showcase next-gen, or even current-gen, hardware. Instead of going for the mind-bending, GPU-melting visuals most games today employ, Telltale made the smarter choice of going with a stylised cel-shaded look. This probably helped the company stay on schedule for each episode and also helped the game look like it was straight out of a comic book.
Despite the lacklustre gameplay, The Walking Dead will be remembered for a long time purely due to the great script writing. And the replay value afforded by the branching story-line is a pleasant bonus. The series pushes gaming as a creative medium much farther than most AAA games have managed to in the past. The Walking Dead is easily one of the best games to come out in 2012, and we think it has earned its place among the likes of Planescape: Torment and Spec Ops: The Line when it comes to the quality of writing, both in plot and in dialogue. Plus, zombies are fun.
Price : Rs 1,350 ($24.98)
Publisher : Telltale Games
Developer : Telltale Games
Platform : Xbox 360, PS3, PC, iOS