Why Telltale's The Walking Dead is a Modern Adventure Masterpiece
Why Telltale's The Walking Dead is a Modern Adventure Masterpiece
Written Friday, November 23, 2012 By Richard Walker
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The Walking Dead is over, but it's really only just begun... And nothing has managed to grip us, and keep us so irrevocably compelled in a long, long time. The Walking Dead is an unbridled masterpiece, a lesson in storytelling and one of the finest experiences you'll find on PSN. It'll make you smile, it'll make you gasp, and it might even make you cry. It'll have you hanging off the edge of your seat, clawing at your eyeballs, sticking a pencil in your ear and prodding your brain (don't try this at home, kids). It really is that good. Scratch that. It's not just good; it's transcendent.

Some games treat story as a secondary concern, but in Telltale Games' The Walking Dead, narrative is king. It's the blood that runs through The Walking Dead's veins and the stomach punch that hits you in just the right way, at the right time, pulling the carpet out from beneath your feet when you least expect it.

Before we get into it, let's just say that we've tried to avoid spoilers, but there might be some minor details we refer to, so you may want to come back once you've finished The Walking Dead series (why haven't you finished it yet?! Do you not like games? What's wrong with you!?) And you should. It's not just one of the best games you'll play this year, it's one of the best games you'll ever play. Hyperbole maybe, but it's entirely justified.

The Walking Dead is an episodic point-and-click adventure game, and a prequel story to the comic books. Playing as protagonist Lee Everett, you start out riding in the back of a cop car, a man with a somewhat dubious past who happily shoots the breeze with his police escort. Initially you're not quite sure about Lee, but you get the impression from the off that he's a genuine guy. In reality he is what you make him, your decisions shaping the kind of hero he develops into.

By the end of our game, Lee had come full circle, embroiled in an altogether different, but not entirely dissimilar situation. How the narrative gradually escalates, throwing cliffhangers, twists and shocks your way at every turn is masterful, but it's the decision-making that imbues The Walking Dead with its most heart-wrenching moments, as you march towards the tear-jerking conclusion.

As the protector of the estranged 8-year old girl Clementine, invariably every decision we made was with her best interests at heart, or with the rest of the group in mind. We wonder how a more selfish, aggressive approach would pan out. Would Clementine grow to resent Lee? What impact would that have on the ending? The story arc from the very first episode and the through-line you take to the final, inevitable denouement is almost entirely in your hands, but it's the sense that you can't entirely determine how certain events pan out that lends these occurrences real emotional heft. There's no way you can save some characters when they fall afoul of walkers, and you're powerless to stop the wilfully stubborn Lilly when she makes some rather awful decisions that threaten to splinter the group.

Hope comes and hope goes in The Walking Dead. You're right there with the group throughout each roadblock, wondering how you're going to find your way out of the next sticky situation, whether it's finding a functioning mode of transport to make good your escape, fixing machines, solving puzzles and problems or freeing a stranger from a bear trap in the most inadvisable way possible, your problem-managing nous is tested and stretched to the limit, as the timer inexorably melts away, forcing you to make your decisions quickly, lest you not make them at all.

Would you do the same if this were a real-life scenario? Could you do the same? Through Lee's eyes we live vicariously as the everyman who has to step up as a leader and as Clementine's guardian, putting himself in harm's way. The best way to play The Walking Dead is by making the decisions that you'd more than likely make yourself if you were put into Lee's shoes.

There are moments that will stick with you forever, like discovering the horrifying truth at the dairy farm, becoming Kenny's closest ally and confidante, finding out that Crawford isn't quite what you'd thought it would be, meeting other survivors and pockets of underground existence for the first time, giving Clementine her first shooting lesson, looking for clues with Kenny's son Duck, finding out who was giving supplies to the bandits at the Motor Inn, wrestling the babysitter when you first meet Clementine, picking sides at the pharmacy, deciding what to do with loose cannon Larry... Who would have thought that shovelling soil as an activity could be made quite so palpably melancholy? The list of great moments goes on.

It's the pitch-perfect characterisation and script, punctuated by instances of savage, unflinching violence that gives The Walking Dead its edge, and having to make hair-trigger choices that can shape the game are the very thick, delectable icing on the most gratifying cake you can possibly imagine.

Each and every juncture where escape looks like a viable option, you're left wondering where you're going to ultimately escape to. Is there a happy ending to be had? What's the best possible outcome that you can hope for? It's this creeping sense of constant uncertainty and dread, as well as the marriage of plot, character and story-shifting decisions that make The Walking Dead such a uniquely compelling package, and one of the most memorable gaming experiences you'll play this generation. Is it essential to have read the comic books? Nope. The comic books are fantastic, but Telltale's The Walking Dead stands up on its own merits as a standalone story.

Nothing in recent memory has packed the emotional impact and depth of character that The Walking Dead has, leaving us craving the second season, just like a great television show. Telltale Games' achievement is unparalleled, and although there are plenty of fantastic examples of adventure games out there, we can't think of an instance during our 20-odd year history of video gaming where we've had our heart strings tugged in such a way and our manly tear ducts so relentlessly prodded. The Walking Dead resonates long after the final post-script, and will have you questioning your choices for days, weeks, maybe even months. Truly, Telltale has crafted something genuinely special that we, as gamers should cherish. It's easily the best £20 you're likely to spend on a PSN title, that's for sure. It's high time to embark upon that second playthrough... The Walking Dead is over, but it's really only just begun.

The Walking Dead episodes 1-5 are available to download from PSN for $4.99 each. Alternatively, you can get all 5 episodes with the season pass for $19.99, or you can wait for the disc-based release on December 4th.


User Comments
Forum Posts: 469
Comment #1 by Wintersun
Friday, November 23, 2012 @ 07:45:54 PM
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Absolutely loved this game. Had some hiccups and slowdowns only for a few moments but it wasn't enough to pull me away! I cannot wait for season 2. Getting that pass day one.

Forum Posts: 369
Comment #2 by DaddyGamer
Friday, November 23, 2012 @ 08:21:33 PM
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Well written article and I agree 100%. This was one of the best stories I've experienced, period.There was an emotional connection to Clem and Lee that was genuine for me, and this game, these characters and the events experienced in this game will stay with me for awhile.

Tl,Dr: absolutely fantastic game that should not be missed. cannot reccomend it enough.

Forum Posts: 128
Comment #3 by srspsn
Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 04:51:27 AM
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Purchased this yesterday and I'm really wanting to play it, heard nothing but good things about it

Forum Posts: 2805
Comment #4 by Dipsy
Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 09:39:27 AM
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It may just be a game, but you actually get pretty attached to certain characters (in my case Clem and Kenny), gotta hand it to telltale, they did one hell of a job.

Forum Posts: 532
Comment #5 by BananaSausage47
Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 11:03:14 AM
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definitely one of the best games this year!

Forum Posts: 15999
Comment #6 by olsen77 [STAFF]
Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 12:17:29 PM
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Side note food for thought: Could this be the game that starts to bring adventure games back from the dead?

Forum Posts: 410
Comment #7 by skatinghamstar
Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 07:29:15 PM
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how many seasons of the actual TV show are there going to be?

Forum Posts: 469
Comment #8 by Wintersun
Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 07:41:23 PM
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The actual TV show is already on season 3, no other news so far

Forum Posts: 152
Comment #9 by Jaketed
Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ 01:48:08 AM
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Everything Walking Dead is awesome(if no one has read the actual comics i will spoil nothing) and just hope that the upcoming Walking Dead game will be just as good and if they do a season 2 of the episodic series hopefully it's just as good as this one was if not better

Forum Posts: 2014
Comment #11 by Jimbo76
Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ 11:47:56 AM
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one of the producers said on the Talking Dead that they have enough material for at least seven series. if that's true its pretty epic.

Forum Posts: 410
Comment #12 by skatinghamstar
Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ 12:25:29 PM
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I am finishing season 2 on netflix tonight.

Forum Posts: 35
Comment #13 by SweatySasquatch
Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ 01:21:55 PM
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I think if they do , do another season of this game that Clementine needs to be the main character. I have faith with how awesome this one was written, that this is only the beginning of great story-telling yet to come.

Forum Posts: 22
Comment #14 by Count Giraffe
Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ 06:24:10 PM
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This has to be my game of the year. Honestly. I was (nearly) move to tears while playing the last episode, which, without spoiling anything, had several powerful and awesome moments (Lee with a meat clever vs. lots of zombies was my fav) which left me breathless. My one issue though, is throughout the entirety of the series I felt as if though me decisions never really mattered. There were a few moments in the fourth episode that made me think that my choices varied things, but nothing actually really seemed to make a difference at the end. Not that the ending was bad, because it wasn't, in fact I felt that it was powerful and meaningful in the ways the ME3's ending wasn't, I just wish that there were multiply endings, which adds a bit more replay value. But besides that, I absolutely fell in love with this game and can't wait for season 2.

Forum Posts: 177
Comment #17 by MrSP
Monday, November 26, 2012 @ 08:31:41 AM
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Forum Posts: 82
Comment #18 by Chaosflare
Monday, November 26, 2012 @ 10:07:12 AM
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Was easily able to toss this season into my #2 spot for GotY this year.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #19 by comboace
Monday, November 26, 2012 @ 11:02:32 AM
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Definitely the best game I have played in a very long time and can easily be goty for downloaded titles this year.

Forum Posts: 3885
Comment #20 by starcrunch061
Monday, November 26, 2012 @ 01:40:37 PM
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This is definitely the grossest hyperbole I've ever seen in a game column, and that's saying a lot in a genre given over to the grossest hyperbole.

Forum Posts: 1132
Comment #21 by vikebone
Monday, November 26, 2012 @ 04:55:52 PM
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@6 While I haven't played The Walking Dead, a game that certainly could help revive the adventure genre is the Double Find Adventure that got over 3 million dollars on kickstarter earlier this year.

Forum Posts: 206
Comment #23 by ZACHSP8
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 @ 04:54:30 AM
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I played the demo and never really thought much of it.

Forum Posts: 3885
Comment #24 by starcrunch061
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 @ 12:42:56 PM
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@23: It's an OK game that benefits from good source material. I personally don't understand how people get emotionally involved in video game characters, but maybe if that's your thing, it's a lot better. But as a game, it's just standard fare.

Forum Posts: 2107
Comment #26 by OlympiakosNYC
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 04:18:03 PM
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i think most of us here loved this game so much because the trophies were a cake walk. ;-)

Forum Posts: 442
Comment #27 by The Cosmic Suff
Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 09:51:45 AM
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That good huh? Maybe I have to check this out. Just watched the first episode of the series and it wasnt half bad. I'm really not into Zombies, but if the story is any good Im ready to give it a try!

Forum Posts: 551
Comment #28 by DMCV
Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 02:15:01 PM
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Ohh I'm excited by this...Hurry up retail release!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #30 by KRSPIT
Friday, November 30, 2012 @ 12:50:01 PM
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@24: My girlfriend always says she can't understand how people get emotionally involved in games, yet she was sooo excited for every episode and the end of episode 5 nearly brought her to tears. It's an awesome game!

Forum Posts: 7322
Comment #31 by technole
Friday, November 30, 2012 @ 01:19:54 PM
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Walking Dead benefits from a good comic source, true. But good adventure games have the emotional content that have the player feel they are almost deeply involved in the decisions.

Forum Posts: 43
Comment #32 by NewYorkNative28
Friday, November 30, 2012 @ 05:41:10 PM
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Just finished the game. Amazing storytelling. Simply amazing. One of the best games I've played this year. Looking forward to Season Two.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #34 by DEDZDARKO
Monday, December 03, 2012 @ 12:30:35 AM
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I cannot wait to play more with new seasons.

Forum Posts: 243
Comment #35 by BACON75
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 @ 04:06:35 PM
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Really a great story driven game, my only wish: a little less "choose your own adventure" a,b,c choices, and some more player ability to affect the events.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #37 by TENNESSEE
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 @ 07:23:52 AM
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I was pretty good. I wish they would have made the trophies different. Maybe make you play through more than once.

Forum Posts: 520
Comment #38 by twyz
Thursday, December 06, 2012 @ 09:40:57 AM
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#37: Why do you need trophies to tell you to play through a second time? I just completed the game last night, and plan on starting my second playthrough tonight after work.

Forum Posts: 675
Comment #41 by kakihara301
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 08:33:26 PM
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Obviously a lot of people figured this out. It won GOTY at the VGA's. Telltale won Studio of the Year and the girl who voiced Clementine won Female Voiceover of the Year.

All well deserved wins!

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #42 by PAPABEAR 33
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 @ 01:08:30 PM
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I played the first episode and couldnt really get into it. On a seperate note does anyone remember if Heavy Rain won game of the year & got as much attention as this. I only had an XBOX at the time it was released. In my opinon Heavy Rain is a far better game than Walking Dead. But you know what opinons are like...

Forum Posts: 400
Comment #44 by Exedome
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 @ 04:46:38 AM
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@42 I don't think that it did.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #45 by djfoxynulla
Friday, July 26, 2013 @ 01:50:36 PM
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Played twd 400,forget how good that game was cant wait for the new game

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Game Info
Telltale Games
Telltale Games


US April 24, 2012
Europe April 25, 2012

Resolution: 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Players: 1
ESRB: Mature
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