Every zombie fanatic in the world is looking forward to February 9th. Social media is buzzing about the return of the apocalypse. I myself am a huge fan of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”, and can’t wait to be reunited with a collection of characters that has captured my imagination.
But one other date was circled on my calendar. A date that I have been anticipating for over a year now. And that’s December 17, the day that Telltale games was releasing the next episode of it’s masterpiece video game based on Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” comic series. To prepare myself for what was sure to become another emotional journey, I decided to revisit the first season of the award winning title.
I have to admit, I was a little put off at first by the game. It’s completely story driven, with events unfolding based upon the player’s choices. And I’m spoiled. When I think about fighting off hordes of zombies I expect a rather sizable arsenal. Where’s my assault rifle? My shotgun? I don’t even get pom poms and a chainsaw? Oh boy… this is gonna be rough.
Five minutes into the game I was thinking that this is going to be a disaster. It starts so slowly. I even paused the game to watch some TV. I returned to my mission an hour later, determined to figure out why the hell everyone is talking about this game.
And was hooked. This isn’t a game about blasting hundreds of shambling corpses into oblivion. This is a story about survival. It’s about the decisions one has to make to live in a dying world. It’s about the last of humanity just trying to stay human.
The game puts the player in the role of Lee Everett, a former college professor with a dark past who becomes the guardian of Clementine. It’s their bond that becomes the heart of the story. Like the show and the comic, the game is full of incredibly well written characters, all with identifiable personalities. Even Hershel and Glenn make an appearance, and it felt good to see them. They were an immediate connection to the show I love so much.
It was an experience to live inside this world for a few hours. My spoiled, ADD driven need to run around shooting everything in sight took a back seat as I spent time talking to my group, learning their stories, and making decisions about who to support, who to feed, and sometimes even who to leave behind. With every choice, the consequences played out… sometimes in ways that were truly terrifying. And the entire time I had sweet little Clementine’s best interests at heart. I became truly attached to her as I navigated the world full of danger from both the dead and the living.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING prepared me for the finale. I played this game in an overnight marathon session. All 5 episodes back to back. I couldn’t help myself. Imagine a mid-season cliff hanger at the end of every episode. That’s how intense the drama was. And the end…. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played the game… but I just wasn’t prepared for how emotional it was. I’ve finished off countless great games. But when I finished this game, I actually turned off my TV, laid down, closed my eyes, and just thought about the entire journey. I was so emotionally drained by what had occurred that I was near tears. Never in my life have I become so attached to characters in a video game. Cared so much. Or been so heartbroken.
“The Walking Dead” is a definite must for any fan of the series or zombie affecionados who want to do more than test their headshot skills. This game does everything right. It captures the all the drama and tension of the series, giving players the chance to live in Kirkman’s world without the threat of being eaten by your neighbor. The only thing missing for the hardcore fan of the show is an appearance by Daryl Dixon. Maybe next season.