Telltale have dabbled with episodic gaming for ages, but up until now it's never quite nailed it. Dropping the emphasis on point and click puzzles, The Walking Dead feels more like interactive telly. Puzzles are almost nowhere to be seen, and the combat bits are gruesome but simple. Treat it like a bit of interactive fiction, though, and The Walking Dead is an absolute treat.
The left stick to moves your character around, while the right stick lets you point at things you want to interact with. Get into a fight with an undead nasty, and you'll have to - as is traditional - aim for the head if you want to keep the zombie gits down. The QTE bits feel a bit weak sometimes, but for the most part it's engrossing and exciting stuff.
For less than the price of a fancy pint you'll get two hours of brilliant TV-style entertainment. It might not play like a traditional game, but they've nailed the tone of the zombie apocalypse.
The script and voice acting are both superb, and the pacing of the narrative impresses too. At the start of the game you get thrown in at the deep end, and you've got to gradually piece together bits of back-story from there. The videogame bits might have been lobotomised, but the content is mature. The comic-book art style might betray this idea, but it actually works surprisingly well, creating wonderfully caricatured faces that are able to convey a wide range of emotions. It's technically crude stuff, but that doesn't make it any less convincing.
The main focus of The Walking Dead is on human emotion rather than action, and you'll have to think carefully about how to deal with the survivors you meet. The choices you in each episode get imported into the rest of the series, and we can't wait to see the effects that this has. During the events of Episode 1, you'll have to make at least two difficult snap-decisions. Timed choices play a major part in the game, and add to the sense of frantic engagement.
Slower conversations give you time to think about an answer, but when things get heated you'll have to move fast: If the time runs out and you haven't made a choice, you'll miss your chance and simply say nothing. When you're trapped in a room of people screaming at each other, touches like this make it feel authentic: people aren't hanging on your words, you're just shouting bit louder than everybody else.
It doesn't really feel like a point and click adventure, and sometimes it barely even feels like a game - but if you're in the mood for something different, this is superb entertainment at a fantastic price. If you're a fan of zombie movies, get involved. We're hooked: bring on Episode 2.
An enticing alternative to watching the telly.
- Fantastic script & characters
- Intense decision-making
- More exciting than the TV show
- Movement feels wonky
- Barely feels like a game