Back in December of 1998, I reviewed a game called Grim Fandango. It was one of the best adventure games I had ever played. It received the highest rating I had ever given a game up to that point. It also received widespread praise from the gaming community as a whole. It, however, was a commercial flop and ultimately led to LucasArts getting out of the adventure gaming market. At this point in time most saw the adventure games market as dead, LucasArts was the king of the market, and they had given up the crown. With them gone most other game companies pulled out as well. Former LucasArts employees who worked on adventure games decided that the death of the genre was not going to happen on their watch and so they founded Telltale Games.
The Walking Dead: Episode 1 is the first part of what Telltale Games hopes to be a huge success for them and continue to build upon the foundations of The Walking Dead universe. The game starts with the protagonist, Lee Everett, riding in the back of a squad car leaving Atlanta on his way to jail. The officer driving the car seems more concerned about Lee and what he did to go to jail than what’s going on around him. A steady buzz of information on an unknown issue can be heard on the police radio. As your ride continues, police cars, SWAT teams, and helicopters pass you heading towards the Atlanta area. The officer apparently doesn’t care and turns off the radio and continues his prying of information from you. Still neglecting to pay attention to his surroundings, the officer’s squad car slams into a “walker” and careens off the road smashing into the woods.
This is your introduction to Episode 1 of The Walking Dead, and the storytelling style of games that Telltale creates.
The graphics, while unique and different from previous Telltale games, are simply beautiful. They appear as if they were lifted from the pages of the comic, colorized, and animated. While they probably wouldn’t work for any other Telltale games, it really captures the essence of The Walking Dead. Another highlight is the voice acting, the accents are spot on, and the characters really express their emotion through their voices. The in-game controls and the camera view can prove to be an issue in The Walking Dead. There are times when you just can’t tell there is a point of interest, or you have a hard time getting over to it with how the controls are laid out.
Having said all that, the key to The Walking Dead Episode One is the story, and the story is amazing. I found myself really connected to the characters, especially Lee, even with what he had done in his past. The life and death decisions about what character to save or what action to take to benefit the group, they will have you second guessing yourself till the end. The story, while unique from the comics, fills in some gaps on events that drove certain characters to do the things they did in the comics.
Overall, The Walking Dead Episode One: A New Day, is worth the purchase, for only $25 you get all five episodes of the game, with new episodes released on a monthly basis.