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The Walking Dead Game: Episode 1 Review (Ps3)



After Telltale Games disappointed us with Back To The Future and Jurassic Park, the initial response when it was revealed that the developers would be handling the Walking Dead Game was, well, not great. Have they redeemed themselves with the final product?



The deciding factor of The Walking Dead is ultimately down to one thing; the talking. If you're happy to get fully immersed in brilliant story telling, genuinely forming bonds with the characters and caring for your new found child 'side-kick', then the talking won't stop you. If you're not big on talking and would rather get down and gritty with zombies -- play Left 4 Dead.

In Episode 1: A New Day, you take on the role of Lee Everett, a man who may or may not be a killer, and your first introduction to him is in the back of a cop car, handcuffed and oblivious to the zombie apocalypse that's kicking off as he's escorted to prison.


You're given your first play with the conversation tree mechanic here, where you select what you want to say (or stay silent). The inclusion of 'split second' decisions is great, as you have only a limited amount of time to choose what to say, and it really adds to the pressure.




As you sit in the back of the cop car, talking with your chaperone, the games is happening concurrently with the comic book series, so as Lee's story kicks off at the start of the zombie apocalypse, Rick, the protagonist of the comics and TV show, is lying comatose in his hospital bed. This gives way to a whole new group of survivors, although expect a few familiar faces to pop up along the way.

It's not all talking, however, there are plenty of action sequences (a lot, actually), but whilst they're gore packed, Zombie smashing fun; they have the added effect of being very panic driven, and tie into the deep story remarkably well, but you'll spend the majority of your time making decisions and living with the consequences.


The outstanding feature Telltale has done, is the way your actions have consequences. When someone asks you a question, you have a limited time to pick one of four responses. Whatever you decide, you live with. Characters remember what you say and take note of your demeanour,usage, pronoun etc. While this might simply be someone questioning Lee's story in this episode, Telltale says the way people perceive him is going to drastically affect future episodes. What if your squad finds out you've been talking crap from the get-go? What if they find out all about your past? What if they push you out of the group? Or worse, take Clementine from you?


What I found with A New Day, is just how attached to Clementine I became. I wanted to do nothing but save her, cheer her up, reassure her that we'd find her parents, together. When she was hungry, I'd find her food. When she cut her finger, I franticly searched the office to find the First Aid Kit. But worse, when she got grabbed by a Zombie, there was no one that was going to stop me saving her.

It's extremely powerful stuff, and that's added to some of the choices you'll have to make. Think picking who lives and who dies will be easy? Think again. A solid example of this is on Hershel's farm. You have to decide whether to save Hershel's son, Sean, or your new acquittance Fred's much younger son, Duck. Did we mention Sean saved you earlier?
In a split second, you have to decide who you save, knowing full well that either action is going to have dire repercussions, and even cause you guilt.

There are the odd goof-ball moments, not mentioning anything specific, but you'd think a grown person would know to put batteries in a radio...


Overall

The Walking Dead is off to a great start, with outstanding game mechanics, immersing story and a genuine feel of characters. The bad part is waiting for Episode 2...







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