Review: The Walking Dead
The five episodes of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead series are experiences based on decisions.
A decision you make at one moment may impact on what happens later on - at least, that's the impression the game gives.
Take this pivotal moment at the start of episode 2, which is out now, Starved for Help: the game's hero and undead uprising survivor, Lee Everett, comes across three young men in a forest, one of them caught in a bear trap.
Everett has a decision to make - and a crucially important one - but time is running out and an undead is shambling towards them: Does he try to free the man's leg by tinkering with the bear trap, or does he do the unthinkable and take the axe he's holding and amputate the man's leg, freeing him? I decided the amputation option: it seemed the more humane of the two. The Walking Dead doesn't pull any punches.
This review of The Walking Dead is a little late to the party, but I have a good reason: I couldn't get the darn thing running on my ageing home PC, no matter how hard I tried. Surprisingly, it seems my desktop's 2 gigabytes of RAM and a Geforce 8600 GTS graphics card just isn't enough. It just refused to play nice. It was only when I got a Dell XPS laptop to review that I was able to check out the series. And I'm glad I did, because it's an atmospheric experience that builds nicely on the television series and the graphic novels created by Robert Kirkland, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.
At its most simple, The Walking Dead is a point and click adventure - featuring the undead. Littered around the game world are icons that can be clicked on, often providing a variety of options, such as talking to a person, looking at something or using something.
Decisions you make or how you answer questions are said to have ramifications as the series progresses, and I noticed that: during a second play-through, a character reacted differently when I acted differently.
An on-screen pop-up appears saying something like "Kenny appreciates your concern for Duck", or "You made a difficult decision". It's all about the moral choices, it seems.
I'm intrigued to see where the series goes, and in the first two episodes alone Everett has gone from being a former prisoner being escorted by a police officer out of Atlanta to saving a young girl, Clementine, whose parents have gone missing, to finding his brother has become one of the undead and having to decide who gets fed with a meagre supply of food.
It's a compelling and thought- provoking story that, like the television series, doesn't shy away from graphic violence. But the violence is infrequent, and involves nothing more than clicking a mouse button at the right time or rapidly pressing a key. The Walking Dead isn't about the combat.
I've come across glitches: In one instance while searching for batteries for a transistor radio I was told "I'm still looking for batteries for that thing", despite having picked the battery up, and I'm gobsmacked that the game still splutters, given its high system demands.
While Telltale Games missed the mark completely with its previous games, and this series isn't available on consoles in New Zealand because it wasn't submitted for classification in Australia, it's hit the bull's-eye with The Walking Dead. Here's hoping Australia's imminent R18 rating means New Zealand console gamers will get to see this series soon.
The Walking Dead
For: Windows PC (not available on consoles in NZ)
From: Telltale Games
RRP: $20 on Steam (gets you all 5 episodes)