This is the first time a game has made me cry. I’m not ashamed to say it, this game grabs my heart, yanks it out and tears it apart, much like it’s zombie antagonists. I have had to make decisions that have plagued me for days after; decisions that have made me question my moral compass. The latest episode, “No Time Left”, is the best so far, leaving me dumbfounded and exhausted. It’s an emotional rollercoaster to say the least.
The Walking Dead game is an episodic game by Telltale Games. Every 2 months Telltale has been pumping out episode after episode with the fifth and final one arriving in December. In case you’ve missed it, the game is a point and click adventure with a heavy emphasis on conversation. The majority of the game takes the form of interactive cut-scenes where the player chooses different responses to dialogue; these interactive cut-scenes are broken up with light puzzling and combat. Most importantly, the game shapes itself around your responses: the further the story goes on, the more impact your previous decisions make.
But what makes The Walking Dead so special is it’s two main characters. The game is set during the same zombie outbreak as the TV show and comic but with a new cast and a different location. It focuses around the relationship between the main character Lee and a girl he finds called Clementine. The dialogue between these two characters is some of the best I have seen in a game: I have laughed, I have felt terrible and, as I mentioned, I have cried… All because I care too much about a virtual girl. I never thought a game would make me hesitate in hugging a small crying girl because I’m worried she will think I’m trying to replace her father. Dilemmas like these are never raised in games, and The Walking Dead has succeeded in making a truly mature title.
…it’s the people you have to fear the most…
While there is gratuitous gore and violence (It is a zombie game after all!), it is never presented lightly and there is always a consequence. The game does a brilliant job at making the zombies terrifying. Whenever one appears it usually doesn’t end well: almost every encounter will see you lose somebody or stop you achieving your goal. But, as always in zombie films, it’s the people you have to fear the most. Episode 4 in particular, creates feelings that almost hit too close too home. Anybody who is a parent or has had to look after a child can relate to Lee. In one situation, I was pacing around the house we had occupied looking for Clementine. As Lee began to shout for her name I began to feel sick: where had she gone? Is she ok? Did somebody take her? I winced at every door I opened, frightened to find out what was behind it.
The Walking Dead game is brutal, upsetting, exhilarating and moving. If you have a few hours to spare and want to feel things you have never experienced in a game before, then play The Walking Dead.