Genre: Adventure horror
Developer: Telltale Games
System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.6, 2.0GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 2GB hard disk space, 256MB ATI or NVidia video card. Not recommended for Mac minis or early-generation MacBooks.
Review Device: 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro
Price: $24.99 (all five episodes)
Availability: Out now
And so we come to the end of one of the best storytelling games I think I’ve ever played. Everything has gone to hell; Clementine has been abducted, the marginally safe city of Savannah is now overrun by the living dead, and our protagonist Lee…well, Lee has had to make some hard choices about who lives and who dies. And now he might not have much choice.
The final episode of the first “season” of The Walking Dead game is titled “No Time,” but what’s interesting is how much space it gives your decisions, and the telling of the story. In a game where the real challenge isn’t killing zombies, but making choices, Telltale has given us a finale where all the chickens come home to roost. The tumultuous relationship between all the survivors, Kenny’s death wish, Ben’s failures that placed the group in harm’s way, and the final, chilling reveal of the man on the walkie-talkie…everything comes to a head. There are no happy endings in the world of TWD, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a satisfying conclusion.
To get us to that conclusion, Telltale again makes great use of a cinematic look and feel for the game. The placement and movement of the camera is magnificent, especially in scenes where the survivors are trying to sneak past the ravening hordes. Now, in gameplay terms, these bits are nothing special. You’re simply holding “W” to move Lee forward. But the way the scene is “shot” adds so much tension to the simple act of climbing a ladder or crossing a bridge. A great deal of thought has gone into the cinematography of this game.
Taken as a whole The Walking Dead may not represent a great leap forward for gaming: the puzzles are beyond simple, combat is extremely forgiving (even if you die, the game restarts at the point you screwed up), and even in the life-or-death decisions you make, you’re choosing between a set of largely interchangeable characters. But in terms of interactive storytelling that feels like your decisions have weight, it’s simply astonishing. The emotional investment I had in these characters and their safety gave the final scenes an emotional punch I haven’t felt from a game in a very long time.
And so we come to the end of the first “season.” Here’s hoping there’s more to come.
Appletell Rating: Buy The Walking Dead: The Game
See other The Walking Dead: The Game episode reviews.