These days it’s considered cool to have a franchise featuring zombies. There games dedicated to this genre from well known publishers such as the titles “Dead Rising”, “Dead Island” and “Left For Dead”. In general this genre isn’t well known for it’s story telling but for the gruesome action-packed killing that usually ensues following a zombie apocalypse. Non-genre games such as Call of Duty got in on the act with zombie driven modes to further saturate the market. Even in the world of cinema you have films such as “Night of the Living Dead” and “28 Days” where the focus is on the action of killing zombies whilst trying to survive.
Writer Robert Kirkman changed this typical and overly visited genre with a fresh take. His idea was to make a serial about the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. They’re every day people who are trying to live from day to day. Rather than going all out to kill zombies they spend their time actively trying to prevent the need to fight. These comics focus on how such an event would change people and how different people, even normally rational people, would cope with the stress this puts on their lives.
The Walking Dead has been an extremely popular franchise since the first season of AMC’s television started to air on television. In my opinion although the first season more or less followed the first volume of the collected trade paperback it was not as good as the source material. This is often the case from those that have enjoyed a series in one medium only to see it changed when released in another.
Typically computer games based on TV and film have been poor and get less than flattering reviews. In the case of “The Walking Dead” from Telltale Games it is important to remember that this is not an adaptation of the TV series or comics, but it is based on the world in the comics. To this end you will even come across some of the characters from the comics, which are of course present in the TV series also, but you are not following the story - your story happens alongside theirs whilst Rick Grimes is still in a coma.
The styling of the game is akin to the likes of Borderlands with detailed cell shaded characters and scenery. The game as a whole is divided into episodes, but each of these are divided into chapters to better keep track of your progress. At the time of writing only the first episode has been released which introduces you to the main protagonist Lee Everett, a man convicted for the murder of his wife’s lover. This then throws Lee into a world he was not expecting, and one where every decision you make changes the overall story as it spans not just the episode but the ones to follow.
For the most part the game is a point and click, but there are also action aspects to it with the “jab the button as fast as you can” feature that is becoming common among action games (even in shooters such as Gears of War). The game is then driven by Lee trying to find help and then to help those that he finds. If you ignore the whole zombie part of the story, the motives of the characters are believable and the character development of the main protaganists is particularly good considering the length of the episode.
It may only take a couple of hours to complete the first episode but it is an enjoyable experience and one I can seriously recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed either the TV series or the comics.