Game Review: The Walking Dead

A choose-your-own-adventure style game of the highest order in terms of action, suspense and emotional stakes.

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Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead is not what you might expect it to be. It’s much, much better. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to churn out an uninspired FPS with a few voice actors from the TV series (we’re glaring at you, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct), however Telltale have aimed somewhat higher and crafted an experience that is, in its best moments, as good as the comic and TV show.

Crucially the title realises the venerable comic’s strength is not just shooting the heads off zombies but rather the choices these disparate, desperate characters are forced to make under hideous pressure and the specter of ever present demise. Also, save for a couple of comic book cameos in the early episodes, The Walking Dead eschews the narrative we’re familiar with and forges its own identity in the same world – a world overrun with the restless dead and the increasingly psychotic living.

The main crux of the story concerns Lee Everett, a man with a criminal past, and Clementine – an 8-year-old girl who he temporarily adopts and tries to keep safe in this society gone mad. While this premise could have easily veered into twee territory the writers have crafted five stunning episodes (of about an hour-and-a-half per episode) where the player (Lee) will be tested physically and morally. The decisions you make, the people you save and the ones you fail – all will have a massive impact on how your story unfolds.

Graphically the game plays in an elegant, comic book-style that seems appropriate. Some of the animation is occasionally stiff but by the end of the first episode you’ll be hooked. By the end of the fifth, you’ll probably have cried at least once.

The Walking Dead is like a brutal, gory, moving choose-your-own-adventure story set during a zombie apocalypse. Compelling and exciting, it’s a must play.

The Walking Dead is available on May 30 on PS3, XBOX and PC from May 30.

 

 

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