Telltale’s Walking Dead proves impressive

LEE EVERETT TAKES A RIDE in the back of a police car driven by a talkative officer who is not long for this world near the beginning of the game. The policeman hints at Lee’s dark past.

The Walking Dead has been a huge name in recent days. The incredibly well-done graphic novels have spawned an HBO series (but what hasn’t at this point), a web series, and now a video game from Telltale games. (Interesting side-note: The Walking Dead is also the name of an album by Saint Vitus, two films in separate genres, a song by a man named Z-Trip, another song by the Dropkick Murphys, and finally, the nickname of the first battalion of the Ninth Marines.) Telltale games has had a somewhat rocky past, at least in the last few years, with recent games surrounding the Jurassic Park franchise as well as the Law and Order franchise and the Back to the Future franchise, many of which have fizzled. But this game, which focuses a lot more on the dramatic as opposed to violent action, is a definite winner.

The Walking Dead: The Game follows the story of Lee Everett, a man with a very rocky past. It plays like a 3D version of an old style point-and-click affair. You have a basic inventory and spend a minimal amount of time using object A or object B. This is a system that usually breaks my will to play a game. I just have no desire for this style of play, but The Walking Dead manages to make this style a very minimal and well-managed portion of play, which was smooth enough that I didn’t much mind.

I really want to tell you guys what happens, because it is amazing and very tense, but saying anything takes away from the suspense. There are a few sections of play that are action oriented and very intense, but the game focuses much more on social interactions and split-second decision making. There are numerous times during which you have a second, maybe two, in which to choose who lives and who dies, or what you’re going to reveal to someone in a tense situation when surrounded by good old Zed. This isn’t some Bioware-style black-and-white affair either. These guys definitely weren’t aiming for the middle. You have your conscience alone to guide you through these very gray and tough to manage decisions. Do you do what’s right? Or do you do some split-second threat and survival calculus to come up with you reaction? Every decision is rough, and it’s hard to pick what you’re going to do.

As far as the game itself goes, get a controller. I believe it plays a heck of a lot better on an Xbox 360 controller than on good old-fashioned WASD, something that anyone with a lot of console experience will tell you as well.

The game was officially released on April 25, starting with chapter one. An additional chapter should be released every month for the next four, and I am on the edge of my seat waiting for it, I promise you. The game promises full control of your decisions throughout, and while the recent events of Mass Effect 3 have shaken my faith in that claim, this game sure seems like it’ll deliver.

In full summary, buy this game. It is an incredible and intense experience, and don’t be afraid to play it through a couple of times to see how it all plays out.