It’s not every day that you can say a game makes you truly emotional, makes you truly feel something. In fact I think I could count the number of games that have done that on one hand. Now however, I can add one more game onto that list. The Walking Dead is a game that had me invested like I’ve never felt before; it’s a true pinnacle of storytelling in video games, and one journey that you will not want to miss. Keep in mind that while this review is for the game as a whole, it comes in five different downloadable episodes for this ‘first season’, with a full retail version releasing on December 11th. This review uses the Xbox 360 version of the game.

The Walking Dead as a series has definitely made a splash in the entertainment world in the last couple years, between the hugely popular comic series that started it all and the highly acclaimed TV series The Walking Dead has really come into its own; and its first foray into the world of video games couldn’t have been better, it’s an emotional gut punch that had me reeling the whole way through.

Fans Of The Comics May Recognize The Man On Right

As you would expect the game revolves around what happens after a zombie outbreak has started. You play the role of Lee Everett who’s on his way to prison as the game starts. After a wreck Lee is forced to fend for himself as walkers begin to swarm around him. He comes across a young girl named Clementine and subsequently more survivors. As this group of people band together to survive in the world, you begin to learn more about each of them and truly begin to care about some. Each episode seems to up the ante, and brings its own problems as well as its own tragedies.

The game plays out as most adventure games do, you have dialogue and conversation choices mixed with areas you need to explore and either find what you need or find the answer to escaping or solving the rooms puzzle or what may.  The Walking Dead is a point and click adventure, with a reticle that you move allowing you to investigate areas, grab items, talk to characters, and perform various other actions. This kind of adventure game has been somewhat dormant for years now, but Telltale has done a masterful job of bringing the genre back with this game.

Surviving In a Zombie Apocalypse Sure Would Be Nasty Business

The story is without a doubt the driving force behind this adventure game, with a diverse choice driven system that tells a truly emotional tale. Let’s get one thing straight though, while there are many many horribly difficult choices to make, this remains the story that telltale wants to tell, and the choices you make may not change as much as you would always like. Nevertheless, it doesn’t really detract anything from the overall experience.

Through terrific writing, fantastic voice acting, and more twists and turns than you could ever expect, The Walking Dead proves to be this year’s most memorable story. Telltale points out that the game is built around and tailors itself to the player’s choices, and for the most part this is true. The often morally ambiguous decisions you have to make, take the experience and make it feel like a story that is truly yours. In addition, The Walking Dead has one of the most well designed sequences I’ve ever experienced in a video game near the end of the 5th episode. Without spoiling anything, this sequence causes the player to reflect on the choices they’ve made through each episode, and causes you to consider what kind of a person Lee is, it truly makes you think.

Lee Everett Manages To Be One Of The Most Memorable Protagonists Of The Year

The shining star of the game though, is the budding parent-child relationship between Lee and Clementine. Each is a character I grew to care about in their own right, but the relationship between the two became all the more important to me. It’s been a long time if ever, since I’ve felt such a strong emotional connection to a fictional character. The panic I felt as Clementine was in danger, and the driving force to keep her, Lee, and the rest of the group safe no matter how hard that may be and how many bad decisions you may have to make.

As much of an established story that this series has already, Telltale opted to tell a story entirely of their own with almost no ties to the comics or the show. If anything the game feels more related to the comics, seeing as fantastic art style looks like an animated comic. Although I did experience some bugs along the way, the game overall worked well, and the art style entirely won me over.

One Walker Seems Bad Enough

Once again, I just cannot say enough for the voice actors in The Walking Dead. The entire cast does a phenomenal job, especially a few of the main characters like Lee and Clementine. Music doesn’t play a large part in the game, especially since the game sets a dark dramatic tone, and tries to hold to the eerie quiet a lot of the time.

The Walking Dead is a game that’s going to be talked about for a long time. For the way it reinvigorates the adventure game, the dark dramatic and emotional story that it tells, the deep connections it builds with its characters, the great ending, and many other reasons. While it would be beneficial to go into the ups and downs of each episode(which I will probably do in separate articles) each episode manages to be an engaging addition, and looking at the overall experience it’s hard to not call The Walking Dead something akin to a masterpiece.

The Walking Dead should be remembered for the deep and adult storytelling it employs, and the way it completely immerses its players in the story. It also manages to keep the pace going at a consistent pace, and manages to never be frustrating.

For Clementine

This is a game you need to play, need to experience for yourself; it’s hard to explain it without just showing it to you. So go, each episode can be downloaded for a measly $5 each or you can wait a week until the retail copy comes out at $29.99.

The Walking Dead is a game that left a lasting impression on me, and pulled up some serious emotions. I can say for certainty that at this moment it sits squarely as my game of the year, and I cannot stand the wait for the eventual season two.

Review Score:

[starreview tpl=16]

Title : The Walking Dead: The Game
Format : Xbox 360/Playstation 3/ PC/ MAC/ ios
Developer : Telltale Games
Publisher : Telltale Games
Release Date : 12/11/2012(Retail)/ All Episodes Released(Digitally)

[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20]

*Telltale Games Provided with review codes for all episodes.