They are not a large multitude of video game development houses that can find their niche in this large, burgeoning industry, however, it seems as though Tell-Tale Games has done just that with the release of the popular Walking Dead series.
Ask yourself the following question: ‘how often do developers bring comic books to life while still possessing a keen focus on a commitment to authenticity?’ Unfortunately the answer is ‘no’. Any devoted gamer can reflect and remember the saddening renditions of their favorite comic book heroes that have taken the form of some of the most disappointing titles to have ever hit store shelves in recent past. Fortunately, there is a revolution that has found its genesis with a few key releases such as Beenox’s The Amazing Spider Man which proved to be a tolerable title at best – a compliment considering the other trash that has borne the Marvel insignia (Spider-Man 3 anyone?… I didn’t think so).
Which brings me to the topic of Tell-Tale’s Walking Dead series which provides players with a captivating experience that fuses the three mediums of comic books, games, and television into one neat little package. Comic books in the sense that it strives to properly articulate the character emotions and dilemmas which arise throughout the series – making for characters such as Clementine who actually possess real weight in the midst of the world going to heck. Furthermore, the series shares a semblance to games mostly due to the fact that it is a game (go figure…) and possesses that intrinsic yet difficult to attain quality commonly referred to as ‘fun’ that seems to jump head first out of the nearest window of most developers who toy with popular licenses. Conclusively, the episodes have a theatric flare about them that makes you wish the next installment was present in your library the second you finish the one previous. All of these qualities make for an experience that will bring you back for more time and time again. Making for multiple play-throughs to be a given in light of the enjoyment you will unabashedly feel when you find yourself responsible for one your belligerent squad members’ deaths.
That’s right, I am responsible for the deaths of a few key members of the original cast who I viewed as unfit to be present in my quest through a zombie apocalypse – a trait which, despite its implications, allows me to traverse the ravaged post-apocalyptic world feeling a sense of piece knowing that dissenters have and will be punished in my wake.
To add, one of the features of the series which I have come to be well-accustomed with is its deliberate emphasis on quick-time events. A cue which I believe Tell-Tale may have borrowed from the title Heavy Rain for it is used in a similar vain though still bringing a certain level of suspense and spontaneity to the table despite its apparent adoption. Now, before I am assaulted for the previous statement’s implication that Heavy Rain fathered quick-time events, I must state that the Walking Dead is made by people like you and I and it should be assumed that these individuals receive some form of inspiration (even to a minute degree) from recently released titles such as Heavy Rain.
Now that that boulder has been avoided, allow me to continue by stating the importance which emotion plays in the Walking Dead series: quite a bit. Whether it is the cliffhanger endings present at the end of each episode or the fast-paced decisions players must make concerning who to save during a zombie rush, Walking Dead will have you on your toes for the whole ride. An aspect which should be noted in addition to the former is the distinct use of dialogue in the tale. Characters share their opinions on one another in addition to providing the opportunity to develop relationships with them further enveloping players within the folds of what the Walking Dead series is known for: the prime placement it gives to the emotional, psychological, and social problems which survivors are bound to deal with in light of a zombie apocalypse. This is the quality which will bring you back. Not just the gameplay or the linear story but the culmination of all the aforementioned elements including the series’ characters.
All in all, the Walking Dead is an excellent addition to the ever-growing annals of gaming for its delivery and style which should be noted for their commitment to the characters that make the titles so great.
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