GKick Review: The Walking Dead - Episode 1

(The Walking Dead – Episode 1 review cont…) GRAPHICS: Visually, the game has the cel-shaded art style of the comics and it does so to great effect. The zombies are...

(The Walking Dead - Episode 1 review cont…)

GRAPHICS:
Visually, the game has the cel-shaded art style of the comics and it does so to great effect. The zombies are interesting, the gore is there, the characters are unique and easily identifiable and the environments are small and simple enough to not get lost in. The forced perspective can be a bit bothersome at times, but is a trademark of this style of game. Think Heavy Rain or older Resident Evil. The animations, at least in the body and face, are pretty good. The lip syncing, however, is off at times, and can be a tad bit distracting.

AUDIO:
This is probably the game’s weakest point. While the script is pretty good and the story is great, the voice-acting has its up and downs - and a lot more downs than I expected. It’s a bit weak in areas, and even the audio levels are a bit nuts. A few times, I’d run into sequences where the person I was talking too suddenly got way louder and even a bit distorted during the conversation. Now and then, there were also some awkward background music transitions, especially later in the game.

FUN FACTOR:
The Walking Dead is a lot of fun mainly because of how engaging it is. While the game might feel at times like a long cutscene, you never know when a critical conversation piece or event will begin, so you gotta be on your toes. The combat, while not a focus of the game, does add a nice element to the game. This isn’t an action game, so going into it with that expectation will disappoint, but it’s a great story-driven title and playing to see “what happens next” is exciting. Also, seeing how your decisions pan out adds another level of fun.

REPLAY VALUE:
Like I said earlier, this episode took me about two hours to get through, and that was including the brief time I spent in the menus sorting my options, the one fail I had when I didn’t see how to make a decision quick enough, and interacting with everyone as much as the game allowed. Since it’s short, you can replay it quite a bit and explore some of the other decisions and see how they flesh out the story, but other than that you may only get a few playthroughs out of it. However, that’s what the game is about, so squeezing a 10-hour single playthrough out of the entire game (not to mention the multiple replays you might have to get different story elements) is well worth the small price tag.

GAMEPLAY:
When it comes down to it, controls in this game are as simple as can be though they can be a tad bit annoying at times. There’s certain visual triggers you need to identify, and most of the time they’re pretty clear to spot or can be figured out by your own common sense. However, other times, the trigger is in an awkward spot. For example, at one point I had to save an ally and instead of clicking on her - which I had to do multiple times throughout the game - I instead had to click on her purse. While the decision made sense, considering what my action was after that, changing the rules mid-game cost me and I had to replay the scene. Not able to skip the non-interactive cutscene elements also costs this a few points. However, all in all, a bit of thinking and exploring can help you find your way through the game pretty smoothly and without trouble.

OVERALL:
The Walking Dead is a huge plus for Telltale, plain and simple. The design is awesome, the story is great, the immersion is huge and the impact you have on your character’s fate and those around him is well executed. Despite the issues with the audio and some trigger cues, The Walking Dead delivers. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it capitalizes on the drama of the storyline. Like the books, the game is more than just killing the undead, it’s about surviving one another. The Walking Dead is what survival horror is all about.

OVERALL SCORE: 8.0/10

This review was conducted on the PC version of The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead is available for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and PC platforms.

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About Steve Perry

The owner of GKick Network, co-host of the GKick and Bottom Line Live podcasts, and hero to millions worldwide.