- Format: PC (version reviewed), Mac, Vita, iOS, 360, PS3
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Players: 1
- Site: http://www.telltalegames.com/walkingdead/
It really can’t be emphasised enough. The Walking Dead can be incredibly emotional and touching, or just loosely cobbled together conversations and situations which happen regardless of what you say and do. Understandably having a single narrative with branching decisions makes it difficult for multiple stories to be told in significantly different ways but your choice inevitably is going to be: play along to the tune they play, or get increasingly frustrated by the lack of social competency from every character that graces the screen.
Play the game as the good Clementine and the story will unfold neatly, conversations seem almost real, and the choices you make have all the weight in the world. Play as anything other than that iteration of Clem, and the response you get can feel like a slap in the face. Want to have a reasonable conversation? Not going to happen. Want a situation to be resolved in a reasonable manner? Watch as a spanner is thrown in the works. Want to feel like anything you do matters or has any bearing to how the story unfolds? The game sits you down, ruffles your hair, tells you that you don’t know what you want and makes you sit quietly and listen to how events should pan out.
If you aren’t playing ball then the story shambles about with people liking or disliking you regardless of what you say or what you do. People you stick up for repeatedly hate you, people you are awful to brush it off and act like your best friend. It’s utter madness at times. It’s frustrating to know that at every turn, the story you want to have told to you never really shifts in your favour. The immutable story path just becomes frustrating to listen to. It’s worse than just watching characters make bad decisions, it’s their unflinching inability to react appropriately to the verbal cues you give them.
There are other issues too, not being able to hold conversations with some characters; ones we are shown have a huge amount of depth in terms of motivations, ethics and unfulfilled backstory are just left to fill in very specific moments. There is a good chance that some of them may return in Season 3, but it means that instead of exploring other characters that you meet/are in your survivors group, you might come across characters that you dislike – and attempt to portray that you dislike them (to no avail) – and still be polluted by endless torrents of backstory that you and Clem really don’t care about.
The Walking Dead is one of your really good friends; it might even be your best friend. Even though they are very fun to be around, they are stubborn, incredibly selfish, and want to be the centre of attention all the time. When you ask nicely if you can go do something your way they might humour you slightly – but then they get bored and take it back to what they want to do.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead is a great series and this series is still great; but as good as it is it can also be utter rubbish. If you are on the wrong side of the fence for the majority of the choices you make, all you will feel is frustration that the game doesn’t care if you enjoy it or if you are invested in any characters. All the game wants to do is tell its story regardless of your choices. We can’t say that it’s a 50/50 whether things will pan out your way, as Telltale’s stats say that most people take the path they want them to anyway. Just go out and try to enjoy it; it’s still good, but much more flawed than the first season.