Remembering Telltale's 'The Walking Dead'
By Nick Henderson on August 31st, 2012 (4 comments)
The Walking Dead has had a huge impact on popular culture since the early 2000's when the graphic novel series debuted. The AMC drama series of the same name managed to catapult the franchise into the limelight and paved the way for what I believe to be the ultimate 'Walking Dead' experience. Telltale Games has iterated on the franchise, drawing inspiration from both the comics and the TV series, to dramatic effect. With Activision gearing up to cash in on the franchise with their own game based off of the TV series, I think that Telltale will ultimately be the one who is remembered for years to come. If you have not yet played 'Telltale Games' episodic series, you are not only missing out on one of the most memorable dramatic experiences in gaming but also one of the greatest arguments for the benefit of digital distribution to date.
If asked what makes Telltale's 'The Walking Dead' so special, it is easy to attribute the success to atmosphere and storytelling. Without question, these are elements that have been nailed in this title. The sense of dread and hopelessness that would permeate a world overrun by madness and flesh-eating zombies is achieved in ways that many big budget retail titles fall short of. Like the material it draws inspiration from, the living people are the star of the show, begging the question of whether the title is referring to the zombies or the doomed citizens who are forced to walk the earth among them. I constantly find myself questioning the manner in which I would handle myself and feeling genuine remorse for the tough decisions that I am forced to make at every turn. Not many games capture the human element quite like "The Walking Dead." With that said, I think this game will be remembered for years to come for a completely different reason.
As a major opponent of the digital future, it feels weird to support a developer who works almost exclusively in digital content. Telltale Games is a studio that has strived to revitalize and advance the classic adventure game formula regardless of the fierce competition they face from mainstream releases. The success of Steam, Xbox Live Marketplace, and the Playstation Network have certainly made for convincing arguments for the eventual decline of box copies but I have always felt that it would take more than the mere convenience of DLC for me to jump on the bandwagon. After years of perfecting their craft and experimenting with titles like Sam & Max, Jurassic Park, and Back to the Future, I think Telltale has finally struck gold with The Walking Dead.
I am of course referring to the episodic format that not only spans multiple episodes but now seasons. The Walking Dead is easily the best example of episodic gaming I have ever seen. Formatted like a television drama, the game fluidly carries players from one episode to the next without deterring them with a hefty price tag. Those who pay a small admission fee ($5) and end up not liking the prospect of playing future episodes are not expected to throw down the cash when the next episode releases.
The reason I feel that The Walking Dead will easily make our top 10 list of 2012 is that the game will still be fresh on our minds even in the later half of the year thanks to this format. The bite-sized episodes (1 - 3 hours each) ensure that the game never over stays its welcome but is always anticipated. Playing a full length adventure game but spreading it out evenly over the better half of a year makes for some great pacing. Telltale seems privy to this and is already planning to release a second season in 2013 and will assuredly be continuing to iterate on this formula with future projects.
The Walking Dead episode 3 is now available on PSN/Steam/XBLA for the low price of $5 (click here to read our review). Telltale has also announced plans to release the full season of The Walking Dead on a retail disc once all 5 episodes of have been released. Do yourself a favor and give the game shot if you have not already. While I am ashamed to admit it, I will laying down the cash for the retail disc even after paying for the digital copies. Bravo Telltale... bravo.
I have been around since the very early days of 4Player but you may know me as “the short one” or the guy who is really into Dexter and that sweet new DmC reboot. I am a gaming enthusiast at my core and I love sharing my opinions on the subject with anyone who will listen. I am a cautious optimist and will try any game at least once. When it comes to gaming, I prefer to leave no stone unturned.
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