Did Finish – The Walking Dead Episode 1

Best start running.
This is the last episode of the Walking Dead games that I will be reviewing. After this, I won’t say a thing about it until I have completed all five episodes. It’s the only way I can think of to avoid spoiling earlier episodes for people who come to the party late. (ProTip: DO NOT COME TO THE PARTY LATE!)

The Walking Dead by TellTale Games is not for the faint of heart, and may be the most honest zombie game I have played to date. How can a zombie game be honest? It doesn’t throw you into the shoes of a super awesome action hero with the ability to mow down thousands of zombies at a time. You play as a guy who has no idea what is going on. More than that, the character you play has a past, and not a shiny one.

It’s one that has the opening moments of the game set in a police car taking you to your new home… prison.

Man with a past.
What did you do? Why did you do it? It’s not addressed right away.

What is addressed right away is that things are going bad outside your car. The way this is presented is really cool. What is even more impressive is how the conversation is played — you are given time-sensitive options for dialogue, and sometimes you have to make snap decisions. These choices matter, and characters will remember the things you do and say. It remains to be seen how this effects the game a whole.

It’s canon.
Walking Dead doesn’t follow the TV show. It runs parallel with the graphic novels. Yes, you will see characters you know from the show, and even some locations. But for the most part, it is drawing from the graphic novels. Does this mean that you won’t enjoy it if you have just watched the show? No. From what I have been told, it doesn’t matter a bit. Why? Because this game is freaking awesome!

This is the point I would normally rage against QTE (Quick Time Events, for short). But I am not going to. Why? Because they are used so perfectly. They are (wait for it…) quick, and they don’t overstay their welcome. They’re over so quickly that you don’t even have time to get annoyed. It may be the best implantation of the system to date. I could make a long list of where it was poorly used (and you would be at the TOP of it, Dragon’s Lair, so help me God), but I don’t have time.

Walking Dead brings graphic novels to life. The look is pulled right from the pages of Robert Kirkman’s amazing book. With bold lines and deliberately stylized textures, every moment looks like it could be framed and sent to print. This style also leads to something that makes the Walking Dead a stand-out zombie adventure.

That’s not right!
There is a truly brutal nature to killing zombies in this game. Early on you are required to beat a zombie (back?) to death with a hammer. It takes four swings, and each impact becomes messier and more brutal. The final payoff is a gory one. A satisfyingly gory one.

Now, before you think differently, The Walking Dead is not an action game. It is an adventure game. When you are in combat, you must move your cursor over your opponent and select an input. You don’t just equip a weapon and start swinging like a mad man.

The zombies in this game mean business. If you don’t quickly figure out  how to survive the situation, you are dead. And the death animations? Don’t be eating when they find your tv screen.

A score?
The Walking Dead Episode 1 is a great time. I can’t wait to play the next four episodes.

(The Walking Dead from TellTale Games is available for 5$ for Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam.)

About Donald Conrad

Donald Conrad is an avid father and a dedicated gamer -- or maybe that's the other way around. He loves his games, and he loves his family, and he's pretty sure he loves sleep, even if he doesn't remember what it was like. Follow his life confusion on Twitter @ConManEd