By Steve Wright
One of the things I was most looking forward to at last year’s PAX was the chance to get hands on with Telltale Games’ Jurassic Park. I loved the JP movies as a kid – and even the horrible game tie-ins of the 2000s -- and just wanted a chance to get down and dirty with some dinosaurs again.
I was horribly disappointed.
After (literally) hours in line, I grabbed a controller…and watched as my character moved, spoke, and did all the cool, actiony stuff...by himself. I occasionally hit a button or two as each quicktime event dictated, the whole time judging the game in dismay.
Needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes for Telltale’s newest venture, The Walking Dead. I thought I’d be in the same predicament – a mediocre game that didn’t do justice to a property I loved. I was wrong. Telltale obviously took note of the criticism that was dished out upon Jurassic Park and delivered something that’s much more than a (barely) interactive movie.
In The Walking Dead, you take over the role of Lee, a former college professor who’s being transported to jail for a crime (that I won’t get into here). Fortunately (!) for him, the zombie apocalypse gives him another chance at freedom. You follow Lee as he tries to find a safe haven, running into a bout of survivors along the way. Most notable is a young girl named Clementine, whom Lee takes under his wing.
You control Lee’s movements and are free to roam your environments, looking for weapons, clues, and tools that will help you progress through the game’s story. In the many conversations you have with the survivors in and around Atlanta, you have two basic options: do you come clean and divulge you were prison-bound, or do you make a up a cover story? I stuck to my guns with my decision and ended up regretting it. But, that’s GREAT. The game makes you care, and in the tradition of The Walking Dead, too – with amazingly deep dialogues that make you feel for the characters you’re exposed to.
When you are tasked with a quicktime event, it’s surprisingly tied to the action and feels right…something that Jurassic Park never achieved. When you’re tasked with game-changing decisions, you’re put under extreme pressure and barely have any time to make up your mind…something that would definitely be the case if you were really surrounded by zombies with few chances to get out unscathed.
For a point-and-click adventure, the game can be a bit linear at times, and at others, it gets a tad confusing. On the whole, though, Telltale hit the ball out of the park with The Walking Dead. This first episode, of a total of five, has the perfect mix of action, intrigue, emotion…and throws in a couple familiar characters from the TV series (or comic books…take your pick!). It’s a point-and-click adventure game with interaction, challenging puzzles, and tense moments throughout the way. It’s a brilliant game that fans of the series, action fans or zombie fans should try…and unfortunately the game’s absence from the Australian Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Store doesn’t help matters. But, take heart gamers – don’t forget that you can (and should) pick up the title on the Steam Network.