Zombies Love TV

We work through our zombie fatigue with The Walking Dead's first episode "A New Day."
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: April 28, 2012
I’m a huge fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Yeah, I’m one of those guys that first got into the series through the show and went back to check out the comics. I am also a fan of Telltale Games, ranging from Sam & Max to Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People and even a little shindig called Tales of Monkey Island.


So when these two combined for The Walking Dead I was psyched. As with most Telltale games there are multiple episodes and this review is about the first of five, “A New Day.” Lee Everett, the main character, is a man shrouded in a bit of mystery. When we are first introduced to him he is riding in the back of a cop car, listening to the ramblings of an officer. It is left unanswered whether Lee is truly guilty or innocent of charges but the court of public opinion seems to have made up its mind.

If we’ve learned anything about the zombie apocalypse in its many forms it’s that it impacts everyone. So when a car accident gives Lee a chance to flee he doesn’t hesitate, even if he doesn’t fully understand what is going on around him. The story in the game runs parallel with the comic, meaning Rick is still in his hospital bed and that the group we have all grown accustomed to has yet to be formed. It also gives us a bit more backstory for characters like Glenn and Hershel, who are met along the way.

The gameplay is simple but also requires quick thinking. The right stick allows you to move the cursor around as needed and the face buttons allow you to perform actions. Yes, there’s plenty of zombie killing but the game really comes down to making decisions and living with them. You will have to make choices, some of which have lives at stake, and live with it. Characters will change their opinions of Lee based on what the player chooses to do or say. You may have to back someone in an argument at the cost of losing a valuable ally later on. Then there’s Clementine, a young girl that Lee meets early on the game, who becomes dependent on him. The fate of Clementine’s parents are unknown and Lee vows to protect her from walkers and anything else that may come along the way. Thankfully, Clementine can hold her own and is quite useful, otherwise this would feel a bit like a five episode escort mission.

The social aspect of the game requires players to balance and think of many different aspects. It’s up to the player to make Lee their own and decide whether to lie, be honest, or go somewhere in between. This is really where The Walking Dead shines because it’s as though the characters are dynamic human beings. They won’t forget and if you choose to stretch the truth it may be something that comes back to bite later. Be sure to also hold on to things that may be otherwise meaningless, because you never know how they can come to be of use later on. You’ll quickly learn how useful a pillow can be in a pinch.

Even better than the gameplay is the game’s art style. It almost looks as though it is a comic brought to life and if I had to make a comparison the closest I can think of is Borderlands. The characters actually show emotion, something that many games lack even though you’re making life changing decisions at every turn. While the game is a pleasure to look at there are some small problems in the details. Blood, in theory, should ooze down and not float in midair and look like a pop-up book. Some things in the background, like boarded up doors and windows, look a bit blurry and unrecognizable until you get close up. These are minor though and I would wager most gamers would glance over the former and look past the latter.

“A New Day” sets the tone for the series and will leave players craving more. Upon completing the game you even get a teaser of what to expect next time. Personally, I cannot recommend the game for $4.99 because the season pass ($19.99) is a great deal and even saves gamers some cash. Trust me when I say that you will want to see what happens next to Lee, Clementine, and the others. Give The Walking Dead a chance to sink its teeth into you and you’ll find that it is nearly impossible to put down.
The Verdict
8.5

A great start to what should be a fantastic series. Telltale nailed the atmosphere and did a fantastic job of making the player feel as though their choices have meaning. Can't wait to see where things go to next.

9.0Graphics:

An amazing game to look at with its unique art style and great facial animations. Some things are blurry and some details are a bit weird but it doesn't detract from the experience.

8.0Sound:

The voice actors do a great job and the effects are amazing. Unfortunately the game seems to lag in areas with the animation and audio not syncing up properly.

8.0Control:

Anyone can pick up and enjoy the game and the controls are easy. The movements feel a bit weird and there are times you wish you could move the camera but it's manageable.

9.0Gameplay:

The sense of urgency adds a lot to the game. Making tough choices also adds a lot to the narrative and interacting with the other characters is a blast. It's a game that will make you think and keep you on your toes.