The Walking Dead game is not what you think, and that's a good thing
Telltale Games has done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of one the most popular comic books in recent memory.
Image Comic's "The Walking Dead" series has seen explosive success over the past few years even though the monthly comic book has been in production for nearly nine years with its 97th issue due out mid-May. It's been licensed out in almost every way imaginable, highlighted by an adapted television drama that just concluded its second season on AMC.
As a longtime fan and reader of "The Walking Dead," I've realized that what makes the franchise so good is that it focuses more on the human reaction to a worldwide outbreak rather than the carnage an apocalyptic zombie narrative could more easily weave. It's not without a fair share of gore, but its black-and-white pages force you to consider emotions first and bloodlust second.
So while it's no surprise then that "The Walking Dead" has now found its way into a video game, I was curious to see how developer Telltale Games would convert the character-driven series into a game, especially since Telltale's story focuses on a main character not yet discovered in the comic or TV show.
While players not familiar with the franchise might be expecting something out of the Left4Dead series, The Walking Dead is anything but. In reality, it actually follows the pacing and seriousness of the books on an impressive level, capturing the intensity and raw emotion exuded by its characters.
Gameplay style follows more of a point-and-click adventure, with role-playing elements peppered throughout. The game boasts the ability to change based on your actions and words, so a second playthrough may net different results. While one would think a point-and-click title needs to be played with a mouse on a PC or Mac, Telltale has done an excellent job with the game regardless of platform, so the experience is mostly the same no matter what you play it on.
Where The Walking Dead video game really succeeds is its ability to emulate the engrossing can't-put-this-down excitement of reading the comic book. Just like the desperate characters it portrays, you'll have a hard time giving up.
Of course the game isn't without a few technical hiccups that include occasionally laggy performance and some awkward animations. Overall, though, The Walking Dead looks great, features quality voice actors, and provides an interactive storytelling experience that other zombie games can only dream of delivering.
Because it's not an overly difficult adventure to finish, casual and new fans to the series should find comfort in its forgiving learning curve. You'll certainly be looking ahead to the second episode, however, as the first chapter in the series can be finished in a single playthrough.
The Walking Dead video game will be released in five separate episodes, the first of which, "A New Day," is available now on PC, Mac, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PlayStation Network. Each episode will cost $5.