The Walking Dead: Episode 1: A New Day

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I wasn’t surprised to hear of a video game adaptation for Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead but I was curious to see how the whole adventure route would work in this universe. Over time, our minds have been accustomed to mowing down hordes of zombies from a first person perspective but in hindsight I’m glad Telltale Games went with such a different approach. Not only does this lend the game a distinct personality but it can stay true to the source matter without being labeled a Left4Dead clone.

Hammer time

Hammer time

 

If you’ve read the comics or have seen the TV show for that matter you know what the basic set up is. Zombies have overrun most of America and a rag tag bunch of survivors must do whatever it takes to survive. The comics tread a very dark path by highlighting some truly unspeakable acts performed not by the undead but by humans themselves against other living people. It goes to show how low humanity can sink when the brown stuff really hits the fan. The game’s tone isn’t quite there yet but I sensed glimpses of it in this episode. We’re guessing copious amounts of nastiness will ensue in the coming episodes.

Fans of the comic/show may get disappointed to know that Telltale Games have gone with a completely new roster of survivors for the game who will meet characters from the comics now and then. You play as Lee Everett, a seemingly normal sort of guy who hides a dark secret. On route to the police station (that’s the part where his past comes into play), his ride gets wrecked by a couple of lumbering corpses and so begins his journey as well as a new lease on life. He soon encounters a little girl, takes her under his protective wing and heads out to meet other survivors. Normally I’d have a problem with children in video games because they’re annoying or just plain cocky. Clementine on the other hand is a well mannered, scared little girl who’s just trying to wrap her little mind around all this madness. In that respect, the game does a commendable job in making you feel for certain characters. That is without a doubt testament to some solid voice acting.

The new survivors

The new survivors

 

Like I mentioned earlier, The Walking Dead takes the adventure route but it isn’t the traditional point and click variety. You control Lee using the WASD keys (on your PC) but the camera isn’t fixed behind him like a third person game. There are static cameras spread out through every level and as you move through it, the camera angles keep changing. To explore or interact with the environment, you simply hover your mouse pointer over certain objects and chose the option you desire (open door, browse medical kit etc).

While this set up does work, Lee’s movements felt a bit off especially with the keyboard. Also limiting camera control can be cumbersome at times, especially when you’re searching for something as small as a battery or a key. The game is also quite slow in nature with a heavy emphasis on character development, just like the comics. If you’ve come to the game expecting to blast zombies with reckless abandon, you’re clearly playing the wrong zombie game.

Hobo with a shotgun

Hobo with a shotgun

 

The Walking Dead is a decent looking title and borrows the cel shaded look you’ve seen in games like Borderlands and Crackdown. This is kind of an odd art style choice for such a game because it tends to make everything look quite bright and cheerful. Although when it comes to gore, the game doesn’t hold back. You’ll see the undead tear through humans, gorging on their intestines with much gusto and Lee himself is capable of going completely mental on them with an axe or a hammer. And it isn’t pretty.

Telltale have decided to take the episodic route for The Walking Dead so instead of one eight hour game, you get five episodes spanning roughly two hours each. However each episode will offer players a significant amount of replayability as you’re forced to make certain choices throughout the game so you can always go back and chose the other option. This will change the outcome of the story as most of them include saving X or Y.

Guess who

Guess who

 

As a fan of the comics, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Even though I never got to play as Rick Grimes or punch Lori in the face, I’m happy with the way the story’s unfolding so far. I’m guessing this game also felt a bit slow because it was the first episode setting players up for a rollercoaster ride that’s about to follow in true Kirkman style. If you enjoy the show or the comics, this is a must buy. Even if you’re new to this franchise, we suggest you give it a shot as it a refreshing change of pace from the usual brain dead bloodbath associated with the genre.

Test rig:
Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
Processor: Intel Core i7 - 2600K @3.40 GHZ
Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DD3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W


Published Date: May 05, 2012 03:19 pm | Updated Date: May 05, 2012 03:19 pm