Before you grab your fire-axes and pistols, no I don’t mean that kind of zombie.
When Telltale released their newest episodic, point-and-click adventure game I was more than a little skeptical. From what I’d read, their past was riddled with mediocrity. They did a Sam & Max game, a couple of CSI’s, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, all of which had some sort of major flaw or were considered to be nothing more than merely average. So when they released episode one of The Walking Dead, based on Robert Kirkman’s best-selling comic series and TV show, I said one thing to myself.
“Meh, it’ll probably be like that thing which was alright. I might play it, I guess… maybe.”
Yeah, boy was I wrong. ‘Alright,’ might have been an understatement of the year! It took a couple of weeks before I heard through the grape-vine that it was actually better than average. Maybe even, dread the thought, good! The ‘zombie bug’ hadn’t really bitten me yet (pun intended), so I wasn’t at the stage I am now where I’ll give anything a chance if it has undead guys trying to eat people in it, but I held off still. One good section of a game wouldn’t convince me to shell out £20. It wasn’t just their past that confused me, but the fact it was an episodic game. They never end well! Either they aren’t good enough for people to care, don’t know how to handle being in episodes or in the worst case scenario just get cancelled mid-season.
So I still held back. It wasn’t until Episode 2 was released and I started hearing that the game might be even better than good that I finally caved and bought the game on Steam. Plus, it was on sale, so why the heck not? £12 wasn’t much of a loss. If worst came to worst, I’d get me a few hours of time-killing goodness out of it. Funnily enough, worst did come to worst, but in a totally unexpected and amazing way.
I played through the first episode that evening, and as the lights went out at the end and the credits rolled my immediate thought was “Woah, what happens!?” That doesn’t often occur for me. By that point it was late and I had college in the morning so I went to bed. Somehow, I found it difficult to get to sleep. Not because zombies scared me and I was having nightmares, I mean come on! The art-style of the game makes the Walkers very hard to find them terrifying in any regard. Then I realised I’d been calling them Walkers. I was hooked, desperate to know what would happen to the characters and it annoyed me to no end that I’d have to wait all day tomorrow to play the second episode despite it being installed on my computer mere metres away. Lee, the main character, and Clementine, a little girl he encountered and began to protect, would have to wait for me a little longer.
Eventually, I re-took my place infront of the PC monitor and found the answers I’d been looking for. The group goes through some crazy stuff and there were moments where I couldn’t help feel repulsed or frozen with indecision. All I knew was that if Clementine was saved everything would be okay. I had no idea where this attachment came from, it was just suddenly there. This 8 year old girl had somehow become one of the major reasons for playing the game. if she was in danger, my heart would begin to race. Again, the advent of the credits made my mind begin to wander. Knowing it would be another two months until the next episode came was the killed though.
I’d fill the time between literally jaw-dropping episodes with other games, TV shows, bit of anime here and there, but I’d always be on the look out for the confirmed release date of the next episode to come. Episode 3 was probably one of my favourites. Never before had I had such a reaction to a game. It’s crazy how just one gunshot can change everything. Episode 4 was still really great, but was more of a set-up for the final episode, which was fine by me. At this point I was so engrossed in this I would have given my left arm to have the next episode straight away.
Episode 5 has to be the most intense and brilliant pieces of gaming I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. I was Lee, I was the main character, and no matter what happens I was going to make sure everything goes right for Clem. They’d been through so much, seen so much… It was hard to believe this would be the last time I would ever see them. Then ‘that moment’ happened. In this article I’ve been trying very hard not to go into spoilers because those that have played the game will know these feelings themselves and those that haven’t should just stop reading and go play it right now. Go on. Skoot. Get out of here.
You’re back? Good.
The last 15 minutes of episode 5 broke me. I’d cried at fictional stuff before. When a certain house elf (whose name rhymed with flobby) did something (that rhymed with pied) in Harry Potter, I cried. Certain moments in Doctor Who had made me cry. Even earlier on in TWD season had I cried. But never this much. I felt like I was being torn apart.
And then it ended. I just sat there, red-eyed and stared at the credit’s roll listening to a song that I don’t even remember the tune of. I’m pretty sure I read a tweet saying “You guys will love the ending song to Episode 5!” I was in too much shock to realise what was going on. But I recovered. I knew what happened had happened for a reason and it was an outstanding piece of character design, storytelling and voice acting. Despite the huge, overly-animated eyes I really felt for the characters in that final scene. I convinced myself that I was just into “zombie stuff” in general and tried to carry on.
I watched The Walking Dead TV show, which for some reason I hadn’t done yet. But emotional parts just seemed flat. I put it down to poor acting or cinematography, but that wasn’t it really. My friends would be like, “that part was really sad!” And I’d reply with a, “yeah, I guess… maybe.” The attitude I’d had about TWD: Video Game at the start had now become my attitude for everything else.
Mass Effect 3′s Extended Cut ending had made me cry buckets, but even replaying that did nothing. I was a zombie. Emotionally. At least when it came to sadness in fictional media. Recently, Telltale Games announced they were doing a Season 2 for certain and that it’d be out when it was out. I could not be happier about that.
By then I’ll have hopefully gotten over this silly thing just in time for them to ruin me again. But now I’m going to go watch The Notebook and Marley & Me. I hear they’re sad! I might finally get teary-eye’d.
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This article was first posted on February 26, 2013