I’m going to start out by saying this article will be fairly short. The Walking Dead’s first episode is entertaining, engaging, and well worth five dollars; the problem is, it’s something you kind of have to experience yourself. Much of the joy that comes from the first chapter, titled “A New Day,” is kind of hard to exemplify without sounding boring or, alternatively, ruining the story.
After the jump, I’ll go over why it’s worth playing. As to why it’s worth experiencing? Well, that’s up to you.
“A New Day” isn’t particularly visceral, nor is it action-packed. A few scenes will, perhaps, pull at your heart strings should you be an empathetic individual, and should you be apathetic, you’ll enjoy the (few) encounters with zombies that occur.
What it is, essentially, is promising. Following the story of Lee and his “adopted” daughter Clementine, his journey to Atlanta begins too your journey to understand and relate to the world the game presents and how desolate a picture it paints.
The entirety of the first chapter, it seems, is all about choices. These choices will involve your environment, the relationship between Lee and Clementine, and the other main characters, all of which are grossly generic. One thing that detracts from the gameplay is the simplistic idiocy that seemingly went into the supporting character roles; while past Telltale games have never failed to create dynamically interesting characters, the ones presented here just fall flat, static and stereotypical representations of human archetypes that rarely exist in real life.
However, I must emphasize the choices again. Even though these characters, bland as they are, are negligible, the game constantly suggests that everything you do will present itself later. Remember past titles Jurassic Park or Back to the Future by Telltale? There was almost no interaction with the plot in these games that had any truly relevant effect. While it might be early to say this, once you play through “A New Day” you’ll be clamoring for what comes of your decisions in the following chapters. It could all end up in a Mass Effect 3-like state, but let’s hope to God it diverges more than that.
If you’re looking for action, look away. You’ll spend almost 3 hours just walking around, talking to people. This isn’t a bad thing, especially if you appreciate a good narrative and story– Telltale has seriously shined in this area, with a completely engaging scenario and dialogue. However, if you’re looking for a Left 4 Dead that’s licensed your favorite graphic novel/television show, you’ll need to keep looking.
Ultimately, the first episode does a lot of good in establishing the game as a series. It is certainly slow-paced, but it handles that well; if it continues this way, however, it might fall flat on it’s decomposing face. If the characters don’t develop more depth and the plot stays in the same rut that it stumbles through in the first chapter, regardless of writing quality, it’ll have a hard time winning this critic over. For now? You can’t go wrong spending $5 and experiencing this yourself.
Oh, and people worried about Jurassic Park levels of graphical fuck-ups should know that this is a vastly superior title, as far as technical aspects go. The graphics? I’m one that thinks Telltale’s graphical style works fine, and this title certainly improves upon the engine in a lot of ways. That said, I’m playing on a PS3 and it doesn’t look phenomenal by any means.
Consider this title recommended for Walking Dead fans, gamers who love a good narrative, and someone looking for a relative bang for their buck.
Note: This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 3, and there may be discrepancies between the versions not covered here. You have been warned.
- The Walking Dead: Episode 2 Out This Week