Game Reviews

The Walking Dead: The Game

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The Walking Dead: The Game

Appropriately enough, The Walking Dead: The Game on iPad represents a new and unpredictable world for Telltale Games - a chance to start afresh or succumb to a mauling at the hands of us groaning gamers.

Unlike its previous efforts on the platform - including Back to the Future and Jurassic Park - The Walking Dead: The Game isn't based on a classic blockbuster movie franchise. The TV series might be hot stuff right now, but there's neither the same level of awareness nor the same nostalgia factor at play.

The developer could have either been liberated or scared into submission by this fact. As it turns out, it's a been a little of both.

The talking dead

The Walking Dead: The Game on iPad expands on the things that Telltale Games has done reasonably well at in the past - sharp dialogue and convincing characters - while tightening up some of the sloppy gaming mechanics it's also become known for.

As with Jurassic Park, the story here actually runs in parallel with the events of the original property. That means you play a whole new character, Lee Everett, who starts the game in the back of a cop car having been charged with murder.

Fortunately for him (or perhaps unfortunately), the world goes to pot at just the right time to spring him from his predicament.

Out of the frying pan

Of course, the fact that the dead have begun rising to feast on the living poses its own set of problems, and you're tasked with solving them.

This means taking on zombies through quick-time events (tapping and swiping the iPad's screen at the right moment) and exploring the odd small environment for items of interest by touching and dragging where you want Lee to go.

These items are used to solve simple puzzles and progress the story. The emphasis is on simple - there's nothing here that will have you in the slightest bit stumped. Indeed, arguably the most sophisticated puzzle in this first part in terms of mechanics has you doing something laughably basic in order to 'fix' a radio.

Fortunately, The Walking Dead: The Game doesn't live and die by its rudimentary gameplay mechanics. And even if it did, it would doubtless come back to life again to chew on your head.

Devouring the scene

It's all about the story. While The Walking Dead: The Game is set at the start of a zombie apocalypse, it's more concerned with the living and how they react now that society's old rule book has been shredded.

Telltale has assembled a cast of characters with just enough nuance to make you care about them - or to actively dislike them. In the latter case it's always due to their character traits rather than poor writing.

Your part in the story is one step removed from passive observer, but it's a significant step all the same. Indeed, you get to make choices that will actively affect the course of the wider story arc over the coming episodes - even down to deciding which characters live or die at certain points.

The pay-off

Obviously, we'll have to wait until at least episode two to see whether Telltale follows through properly on these choices, but from the clever teaser trailer at the end of episode one we already have an idea of how our choices are going to come back to haunt or reward us.

It's clever in another way, because it means that we're chomping at the bit to download the next episode - even though it'll be another £2.99 spent on a game that only lasts around two hours (although this game above most others warrants replay).

We're pretty positive about the future of The Walking Dead: The Game, then, even if the outlook for most of its characters is decidedly less rosy. Yes, there are some of Telltale's old technical quirks on show. The frame-rate dips frequently, and the interesting 3D comic-book style can't mask some clunky character models (particularly the zombies).

But despite all this we're looking forward to getting back to Lee's story.

The Walking Dead: The Game

Despite being essentially an interactive movie, The Walking Dead: The Game's convincing cast of characters and meaningful decision making lifts it above Telltale's previous efforts
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.