The Walking Dead Season 1 is the third Telltale Game that I have played, following ‘Tales from the Borderlands’ and ‘The Wolf Among Us’, even though it was created before both. I must admit, I think I had put it off for longer than I needed too simply because I was scared. I am obsessed with zombies but I do not play zombie games. At all. I just can’t. However, I did it! And it was one hell of a ride!
Telltale’s TWD is inspired by The Walking Dead graphic novels. It is not canon with the shows, however we do meet some familiar faces. The timeline starts before the comics. We take control of Lee Everett. A convicted murderer who is on his way to prison, but then, the apocalypse happens. We stumble upon and create an unlikely bond with Clementine, a little girl that needs help. Together, we navigate this new world, learning as we go how to cope, who to trust, and most importantly, how to survive.
I had heard great things about this game so, as much as I thought I knew what to expect, I also wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype. As I was playing the first episode, I wasn’t really enjoying it as much as I had hoped. That all went out of the window in episode two though. That is when the game really picked up for me. The great thing about this game is that it isn’t all action. There is plenty of time to go around the group, asking them questions, getting to know them and taking a breather. But then you can be thrown right into the action where you have to make quick decisions and difficult choices. There was a great balance between the action and the quiet moments that really complimented the story for me.
At the beginning I found the dialogue to be a bit messy, for example, things seemed to escalate into shouting matches faster than they should have, and sometimes the option I pressed didn’t seem to match what was actually said. But as the game went on, I found I loved it more and more. For nearly every question I had in my head there was an option to ask it in the game. Characters would say exactly what I was thinking, unlike TV shows with unrealistic monologues. It’s a fantastic way to be allowed to be really involved in the story.
The characters were great too. Some long term, some for passing visits. Some I loved, some I really hated and some changed my mind. Not everyone you meet in the game has to die which is a welcome change from the TV show, it leaves much appreciated room for ambiguity and wonderment, and potential for future stories.
I felt like I died a lot unnecessarily during the game. Not due to being too slow or pressing the wrong buttons, but due to the controls feeling unresponsive. That is not something I experienced in any of the more recent games so I think it is just due to being an older game model. One time, I made an important decision then died almost immediately after. When I pressed continue I had to make the decision again. I didn’t really like this as in these games, I like that your decision is final when you make it. It feels more authentic when you make the decision in the heat of the moment rather than after reflecting on it. The game was quite glitchy. Sometimes it can freeze for a few seconds after auto-saving (same problem in all Telltale games that I have played so far) and sometimes the graphics wiggle around as if you are shaking the TV. It is a bit weird but it doesn’t happen often enough to make the game unplayable. It just breaks the immersion sometimes.
The episodes of this game felt a lot longer than the other TT games I have played so far. That would be a good thing for most people but I did find myself looking forward to finishing rather than enjoying the ride sometimes. The only reason for this is because – and the same reason that I enjoyed Tales from the Borderlands and The Wolf Among Us more – of the atmosphere. I really don’t enjoy scary games. It wasn’t a problem for most of the game but there was one certain episode that I didn’t enjoy as much because it was noticeably more spooky than the others. This literally isn’t a problem for anyone else except me so most people can disregard that complaint.
Overall, although it is probably my least favourite of the three I have played at the time of playing, I think I will amend my list to Tales From The Borderlands > The Walking Dead Season 1 > The Wolf Among Us. Although I loved playing The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead story felt superior and has impacted me a lot more. As far as the game goes, the character interaction was great, the game did a great job cutting out unnecessary scenes and it was just generally up there. I have been left feeling suitably creeped out, emotional and a little bit lost. I now have The Walking Dead 400 days DLC to complete before moving onto Season 2!
SPOILERS BELOW! DON’T CONTINUE UNLESS YOU HAVE PLAYED THE FULL GAME
Time to discuss the story! I want to start by talking through the episodes and my choices!
Episode 1 – As mentioned above, I didn’t love this episode. Episode 1 of Tales from the Borderlands was free on the PS Store and when I played it it got me hooked. This episode didn’t have the same effect. I did want to continue but not desperately, I think I was just getting used to the zombie apocalypse and worrying about jump scares. I played Lee as a very likable, nice, honest guy. He was always honest with Clem, except the one thing I never did was outright told her that her parents were probably dead. For the choices, I saved Duck and then saved Carley. By the time that I had finished the episode, I was regretting my decisions, I felt like possibly if I had gone with the other option I could have saved both. Obviously now I realise that wasn’t possible and I am happy with my decisions. I hated Larry and I protected Duck.
Episode 2 – I loved this Episode. It was just fun. Unraveling the mystery and getting more and more suspicious as the episode went on. To be honest, I wasn’t that surprised at the conclusion – I got a very ‘Terminus Mary’ vibe from Brenda – but I still really enjoyed it. By the end I was actually laughing out loud, I was thoroughly entertained throughout. For the decisions – We caved Larry’s skull in at the first opportunity. When we did it I thought, oops, maybe we did that too quickly, but to be honest I was pleased to be rid of him. I did not want to risk him turning into a huge ass walker, and to be fair, I previously saved his life and he tried to kill me. He was not a good dude. Good riddance. I killed the first St Johns brother with a pitch fork. I wanted to kill the other but everyone was watching and I didn’t want everyone to be scared of me so I just beat him up. At the very end, I took the supplies. Oh, and I chopped the teachers leg off.
Episode 3 – I enjoyed this episode too. It was a nice slower paced one and I was pleased to leave the motel and be heading somewhere. I was pretty sure Ben was the ‘Traitor’. I get that he thought he was helping the group but I wish that he had just owned up to it instead of being such a big wimp. I really started to hate him. I was shocked and pissed when Lilly killed Carley but it make me pleased that I hadn’t hesitated to kill her Dad. I kept her with us as it didn’t seem right leaving her. Especially being so crazy, she might follow us and kill us in our sleep or something. Obviously she took off any way and that was that. I shot Duck because I didn’t think it was right that Kenny had to do it, what a shit day he had. Poor Kenny. Hearing that voice on the radio at the end was disgusting but I wasn’t surprised because of stupid ass Fear The Walking Dead. Why they had to use the same plot point but in a shittier way I do not understand. Sadly I saw that first so it lessened the impact for me.
Episode 4 – I really didn’t like this episode. This was the one that felt the most horror themed for me. First of all inspecting a damn mansion, then escaping into the SEWERS, then being in a bloody SCHOOL. AT NIGHT. I’ll go back to the beginning. I got Kenny to kill the child walker in the attic. Since I had killed Duck, I thought it was important for him to do it himself, I didn’t want it to bite him in the ass later. No pun intended. When we went looking for a boat I wasn’t convinced we were going to ever actually get onto the water, again, because of Fear The Walking Dead. That used to be one of my real life plans for the zombie apocalypse till they did that storyline, then I realised it’s not really a great idea. Of course, then I ended up alone in the sewers but at least I had a weapon. That has been one of my pet peeves for this game – the first thing everyone should do, ever, is find a weapon. I didn’t expect to find a community down there and I was pleased that we skipped straight back to the mansion. When Ben didn’t know where Clem was I was furious. Asshole just keeps proving how useless he is. I decided to take Clem to Crawford because I didn’t want to leave her alone with Omid. I HATED Crawford. I knew straight away that the ‘Guard’ was a zombie. Walking through the school and to the auto shop felt like a Resident Evil game, with the fixed camera angles, darkness and of course, zombies. That section went on a little too long for my liking, I saved Ben, not because I wanted too but because I thought he might be useful Zombie fodder later (I’m going to hell). I already knew that Lee was going to die at the end because I had been told that the story was sad and I knew that Clementine comes back later, but I loved the way they did it. For some reason I had never actually considered a bite. The only thing that peeved me is that I checked the bins first. I understand how it happened if you went straight for the hat, but I checked the bins first and it still got the jump on me. I told everyone about the bite straight away and everyone decided to come with me to find Clem. I already knew it wasn’t Vernon because there was still the unsolved mystery of the voice on the walkie talkie. I had also guessed that the herd was coming through Vernon’s reaction when he saw it.
Episode 5 – I enjoyed episode 5. I think some of my fear had gone now, knowing that I was already bitten. I decided against chopping the arm. I thought it had already been too long, the infection would have moved past the arm by now. Kenny used his last bullet on Ben. At the time I didn’t understand why he couldn’t have just shot him then come through the gate with me. I was sad but when there was a dialogue option saying that he might have gotten away, I decided he wasn’t dead. I had already told Omid and Christa that I wanted them to look after Clem so I cleared it up with them to meet near the train. I went Rambo on the Zombies which was awesome. At that time I was extremely pleased that I didn’t chop my arm off because I mucked up one of the QTE’s and got bitten again. I got to the hotel and didn’t even recognise the car as I went in. I liked the fact that your previous actions come around to kick you in the butt but I was disappointed to learn that you take the supplies anyway, even if you say no. I like hearing how previous decisions affect others that you haven’t even met, however I found it slightly farfetched that he was in Savannah. When and how did he get there was my most niggling question. I gave up my weapons when I asked so then when Clem came to help she stabbed him in the shoulder with a meat cleaver. I managed to fail QTE’s again and failed to kill the guy myself, but Clem had my back and blasted that guys brains out. We saw Clems parents, then I passed out. I also find it a bit farfetched that Clem managed to get you into a building by herself. It all got very sad after that. In the end, she handcuffed Lee to the radiator and I told her to save her bullet. Have to be resourceful in this world don’t you. I cried a little bit and the credits rolled. I LOVED how it ended so abruptly. You died. The end. Then the post credit scene. Personally I think it was Omid and Christa but the more I think, maybe not. If everyone got that ending despite the decision then it may not make much sense that it was them. I hope it was though. I loved Lees deterioration over the episode. He gradually looked more and more like a zombie, I thought it was really well done in a heart-breaking way, not letting you forget that his time was limited. It was the perfect way to end the story. Except never getting bitten of course. So bloody sad.
I never expect the choices to make too much of a difference, especially in an episodic game, they all have to come to a similar beginning and end. Plus, as you are playing you don’t know which choices are actually going to make a difference so it is all important. However, reading back through the changes is a touch disappointing. I am happy with all of my choices but it is disappointing to know that Shawn dies no matter what, as well as Carley/Doug. I was honestly questioning whether I could have saved them both, both times. It would have been awesome to be able to talk Lilly down, then I would feel worse for the fact that Carley got shot. But, I understand there is only so much they can do without having a million different endings.
My final thoughts –
It was the Zombie story that I have been waiting for.
I am not looking forward to playing Season 2 because.. you guessed it.. too scary. I will get there eventually though.
I was pleased that I didn’t have to manage ammo throughout the game. I did think they were using their guns too often but I wasn’t bothered as it seemed unlimited
I loved Kenny, but I wish his name wasn’t Kenny. All I hear is Cartman.
What choices did you make? Did you enjoy the story? Did you cry?