Telltale games are for people who love stories and although The Walking Dead is based on a zombie apocalypse, a theme some people think has been done to death, the game concentrates more on the bonds created between people during dire times. Telltale once again takes on a popular series based on the comic series by the same name and places their unique story and entirely original characters within the same universe.
If you're not familiar with the developer Telltale, they produce games generally categorized as Graphic Adventures and one of the major differences between their latest crop of games and traditional point-and-click adventures is a lack of emphasis on puzzle solving. Their games are all about character development and story. Player interaction is therefore mainly confined to dialogue options, a few simple puzzles, and quick-time events. This type of game is not for everyone as it's nature is closer to an interactive novel than to those in the typical adventure genre.
This Walking Dead story takes place in Georgia and centers around the main character, Lee Everett, a history teacher convicted of murder. During transport in the back of a police car, the officer hits a zombie and the car crashes. Lee manages to escape the wreckage and stumbles into the backyard of a house where he meets a stranded eight-year old girl named Clementine. Lee takes Clem under his wing and together they start to make their way to Savannah, meeting and joining with other survivors along the way. During this time, the pair develop a very strong bond and Clem's safety is always a priority for Lee. If you're a story junkie, this one will grab you. It leans very heavily on emotional relationships with all the characters playing pivotal roles.
Just like the comic and TV series, other survivors come and go and you're never quite sure who will be the next victim. Each character has their own story and is integral to the plot. Characterizations are what Telltale does best, giving each person meaning and thereby creating depth to the overall tale. At times, the game throws you into a moral dilemma forcing Lee to choose sides, which ultimately could determine who lives and who dies. This will slightly change some group interactions, but in the end, it will not change the eventual outcomes. The story is basically on rails, but dialogue options, interactions and characters can slightly change depending on your choices.
The Walking Dead is story driven and is the main appeal of the game. If you don't particularly love story-telling, this game isn't for you as there is nothing technologically innovative about it. The graphics are done in a comic book art style with cel shading, which reflects on the origins of the IP. Control mechanics are neither the best nor offer anything new to the genre. You cannot rebind keys, but fortunately there are not many controls to worry about and keyboard users can use WASD for movement or the arrow keys, even though the latter is not apparent. Other than that, it's mouse clicks or the hard-coded Q and E for quick-time events. These could certainly use some improvement as any dying that goes on is generally due to imprecise controls.
Interaction consists of "looking" at things within a location. Usually, one of those things will trigger progress. If you can take action, you will be given a choice of looking, acting or using an item in your limited inventory. If you have something in your inventory, it will show up in the list of choices. Confrontations are handled two ways; a quick-time button mashing event or an action prompt over the target, which allows you to use some kind of defense mechanism like kicking or shooting. Enemies will show a target area that you need to aim at and hit. One other type of interaction occurs when you have to choose between two people which one you will help during a crisis. This will be indicated by direction arrows on the left and right of the screen. Dialogue options and some actions are timed events.
Another trademark of Telltale games is episodic releases and The Walking Dead is comprised of five episodes. I'm not a fan of this business model and personally wait till all episodes of a game are released. However, even once the full game is released, you still get treated to recaps at the beginning of every episode and credits rolling at the end of every episode.
Personally, I love a good story and generally choose games that have one, therefore, I quite liked this game. I have to admit that it sent me on the hunt for a sale on Season 2. This is certainly one of the top reasons why Telltale games have gained such a dedicated fan base. It's something they are very good at. However, I'd like to see Telltale improve on the interactive mechanics as I see no good reason why they can't be better at this too. However, as to glitches and bugs, maybe I got lucky as there weren't any through my two playthroughs. It's not surprising that this IP is popular given the Walking Dead's exposure through the comics and TV show. Regardless, the game does stand up on its own two feet and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The DLC for this, 400 days, is very short. Maybe 1 1/2hours tops. In my opinion it's not worth the price. It consists of short 15-20 minute segments out of the lives of 5 characters totally unrelated to each other or the survivors of the main game. They are also not particularly interesting. Although you can port your save to The Walking dead 2, the DLC characters only make cameo appearances and have no bearing on that story. I consider it highway robbery what they are charging for this at regular price. Fortunately, I got it for 80 cents, which is about what it's worth. This is a total cash grab, so you've been warned.
Their modus operandi, so to speak, is making games based on other works in film or comics. They secure licenses from the owners to develop these games, and recreate the characters and stories in a unique way. Telltale does not retain ownership for most of their games and sometimes must tow the line in how they re-interpret an IP.
As much as people love Telltale games, they are also known for being buggy, a problem that has become chronic with glitches that never get fixed. Although I have never had to use it, apparently their support is worse than Steams, which should tell you just how bad it is. In general, what I did find through playing a few of their later games is that the stories are good, but their interactive control schemes are usually not the best.
Unfortunately, their last few games such as Game of Thrones and Batman have also been rather a disappointment performance wise and some attribute this to the continuing use of an old game engine. Regardless, Telltale keeps pumping out games and some customers are getting a tad irritated with their failure to address many problems.