The Walking Dead began as a comic book series that didn't hit it off so well in 2003. It took the series a bit of time before it began to ramp up in popularity, largely due to being published under Image Comics; a not so well known company that has had its share of ups and downs over the years. By 2010, the comic was launched into monumental success with the arrival of the smash hit TV series, and by 2012 its first video game release saw the light of day thanks to TellTaleGames.
You would think after nearly six years of The Walking Dead being in the spotlight of TV, comics, and games, that the pandemonium surrounding it would wane, but that has proven to not be the case. In fact, it has only gained further momentum in all three categories, and the first season of the TellTale series actually helped put the game company into the limelight. Sure, the developer/publisher had its share of great titles prior to 2012; Jurassic Park (debatable), Back to the Future, and the Sam and Max series. However, after the success of this title, we've seen two more set in the same universe, a Borderlands game, and now even Batman. It's hard to deny that the highly contagious zombie fever hasn't benefited TellTale in a major way.
Rather than being based off any events in the comic book or television series, The Walking Dead by TellTale is set apart within its own unique location and timeframe. It revolves around convicted criminal Lee Everett, who at the beginning is in the back of a police cruiser, on his way to prison. The car crashes, and Lee finds himself free, but in a world infested by the living dead. In an attempt to find survivors, he comes across a little 8 year old girl named Clementine, whose parents were killed in the zombie apocalypse while they were away for the weekend. Realizing that the her babysitter has also died, Lee befriends the girl and they begin their adventure. You will encounter a plethora of people along your journey, and while some such as Glenn and Hershal will be from The Walking Dead, many will not be.
One of the most striking things about TellTale's first season of The Walking Dead are the extremely tough choices you will inevitably be forced to make. It almost seems like no matter what you do, there will be a sad consequence along the way; you definitely have to remember that you cannot make everyone happy. People will die, trusts will be broken, and you can choose to either be a total jerk, a nice guy, or all around apathetic; of course a combination of all three is possible as well. Can you decide who eats for the day and who starves? Who you save and who ultimately gets sacrificed as a result? Can you decipher who to trust, and who's a risk? Do you put Clementine before your own needs, or are you selfish? These are just a few of the decisive questions you will be asking yourself along the way, and they're all difficult.
Thanks to TellTale's fantastic ability to create rich relationships and deep backstories, it always hurts when you lose someone, or you let them down. Part of the game mechanic is that characters will "remember" things that you've told them or done to them. If they catch you lying, they'll call you out on it. If you're mean to them, they won't forget it. If you tried your hardest to help them, they'll be more friendly and helpful towards you. Aside from this core mechanic, you're able to control where Lee walks for small distances, and also interact with a few objects in the world. There are also quick time events, and of course the prevalent ability to select from four dialogue choices. Other than that, this game is bare bones in the gameplay department, as it's more of an interactive graphic novel.
Cell shaded comic book style artwork colored with soft pastels are the graphics of choice here, and at the time of initial release it was revolutionary; as was the 'gameplay'. The only other title using this type of art at the time was Borderlands, but given the subject matter and roots of The Walking Dead, it's only fitting that it was also used here. Despite its somewhat cartoon appearance, the game is well detailed, though it does show its age considering the vibrancy and more well polished artwork in newer TellTale titles. Above all, the voice acting is absolutely fantastic, and the emotions of each character brightly shine through.
TellTale's The Walking Dead has a deep and immersive story that every fan of the series, and of zombies in general, should experience at least once. As they say, it will hit you "right in the feels". There's a decent replay value due to the amount of choices that are present, and I've personally played through the game three times on various platforms over the years. It seems to be something that I seem to revisit every couple of years, as the story is just that phenomenal. Given its age, I can't recommend the game for the asking price of nearly $30 CAD, but I highly suggest grabbing it when its on sale. The 400 Days DLC also adds a new curve to everything, so pick that up while you're at it. If you've played more recent TellTale games, you'll feel the age on this one, but the story is timeless.Join my Steam review group:http://steamcommunity.com/groups/bhhreviews