The Walking Dead Game Part One: A New Day Review: The Story of the Dead
Telltale games’ “The Walking Dead Game: A New Day” strays away from conventional zombie shoot ‘em up clichés by focusing the gameplay on the elements of storytelling and immersion. It is an episodic adventure game with elements of action and role playing games.
When you think of The Walking Dead the image of fire-fights and hordes of zombies encroaching upon your band of survivors plays out in your head. That is quite the opposite of what you get here.
Instead you get a well-played out story with elements of gaming built into it. Not to say there isn’t action, there is. The game focuses less around the action in order to give the emotional sense of survival instead of the physical.
And when the action happens, the game doesn’t hold back.
You take on the role of Lee Everett, a former history professor at the University of Georgia who is being transported via police cruiser to Atlanta to serve a jail sentence for murder. While being transported, the cruiser hits a stray zombie on the highway and Lee is “freed” into a world quickly being overrun by the living dead.
The game is a stylized visual display using the advantages of cel-shading to make a dreary, yet beautiful world based on the comic books by Robert Kirkman come to life. Use of shadows and sound set the atmosphere of the game, crows caw and in the background an undertone of ominous silence.
The game thrusts the player into interactive cut-scenes that attempt to bring immersion to the forefront. No easy feat is it to kill a zombie; the dead are persistent and vicious. The camera shakes and distorts when you are in danger. You have to use anything you can to survive, whether it be crawling and kicking a zombie in the face while it attempts to bite anything it can get its mouth on, or using an icepick to stab “walkers” in the head before they make too much noise and attract others.
The game is played in third person. You walk around and find clues to puzzles, talk to survivors and get an idea of what Lee’s life was like prior to the scene in the police cruiser. As well as finding out what you can from the other non-player characters about them. The puzzles are straight forward and none were difficult to solve. The voice acting is done well which gives the characters life. Even the most casual player will find it easy to adapt to the controls.
For fans of the comic book and/or the television program, the game offers a look into the past of some familiar characters. You meet up with Glenn before he leaves for Atlanta and learn a bit about his past. Also you get to visit Hershel’s farm before Rick and the dead have come upon it and learn why Hershel doesn’t trust anyone.
The biggest accomplishment in the game is the emotional connection you feel towards the other characters. You are constantly put into situations where you must choose who will live and die. The choice is never an easy one to make, the kicker is that during these decisions there is a time limit; and a short one at that.
Every choice you make counts. Characters remember what was said or done and the story changes based on your actions. Do you give your gun to a girl who was bitten by a zombie so she can end her misery? Survivors remember if you sided with them during arguments, or gave them food. All adding up to a unique gaming experience from person to person.
One of the downsides of the game is how short it is. It takes about two hours to complete, although the replay value is high.
Telltale games will release five episodes a month. Each episode will continue Lee’s story. The game remembers your choices so throughout the different episodes the characters will be influenced by the choices you made in the past and bring them up to remind you of them, in case you forgot.
The game gives the player an experience of living within The Walking Dead universe. It’s not action filled, nor is it difficult, but in the end, there is a satisfaction you get from playing. It leaves you craving more. Which is good because they plan on giving you more; you just have to wait for it.
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