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LTTP: The Walking Dead (PC)

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I finally picked up Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead after hearing that the GiantBomb crew were going to spoil it in their game of the year deliberation podcasts. And since I didn’t want it spoiled for me, I decided to play it for myself. It was less than $13 at Amazon.com.

I encountered a stumbling block right out of the gate: the game would not start. I discovered there’s an incompatibility between The Walking Dead and Windows 8. I found the fix and it was relatively smooth sailing from then on. The only other technical issue was the minor stuttering that I witnessed after the initial loading of an episode.

I had some idea what I was getting into. I knew decisions and saves were going to be carried from episode to episode and I knew it was going to be an adventure game. I also knew that there were going to be tough decisions and I wasn’t always given the luxury of time to ponder over them.

What I didn’t expect from The Walking Dead were the game elements; I didn’t expect game over screens. I didn’t think it was possible for the protagonist, Lee Everett, to prematurely die due to negligence on my part. I wasn’t expecting the story to diverge down an alternate path like with Heavy Rain but I thought they would have handled the vulnerability of Lee more elegantly.

Despite realizing there were moments where Lee could meet an untimely death, I continued to play with a sense of urgency for other reasons. I feared losing other members of my party. I didn’t fear for Clementine because I had a feeling they weren’t going to let anything happen to the girl until the very end. I did fear for Carley, Kenny and the rest of the gang though.

Some of my decisions determined their fate immediately while others built over time until it manifested itself in the most dire situation. The most important thing to note is that I accepted the choices I made; I stood by them because I felt they were right or at the very least: right for the group. Even with the timer ticking, I didn’t make any choices that I couldn’t live with which I believe is integral to this entire experience. I did not wish that I could immediately reload a moment or redo a confrontation because I hit the wrong choice.

When the final moments of episode five arrived, I wondered if I could have done anything different to avoid the final outcome or saved more people along the way. That’s the way it should be and I’m glad it worked out that way for me. Closer scrutiny and comparisons with other players will ultimately demystify the open ended nature of things but it was nice to have that moment of belief that I could have made a difference. And who knows? If they did take my save file into the second season, it could alter how events unfold in the future.

After each of the five episodes, a survey was presented to me that helped shed some light on how my choices aligned with the rest of the player base. I landed with the majority of people for the most part but there were a handful of key moments where I diverged. Choices which I thought were the most obvious turned out not to be the case.

I made my choices based on two considerations:

  1. Was it best for the group?
  2. Was it best for the person’s survival in the future?

I held on those two lines of thinking through every decision that I made. Even with the tough ones. This game went down some dark paths and it made me make decisions that we shouldn’t be proud of but they did force me to empathize and put myself in the shoes of the characters I were with. What would I have done instead? I have no doubt that if the zombie apocalypse did happen that scenarios presented in this game would occur. People do crazy things in desperate situations.

I played The Walking Dead through the course of five days. After each episode, I was anxious to start the next but I forced myself to step away, reflect and let the anticipation build for awhile. It was like a TV show that was in my control. I was able to decide what to say and how to approach a situation. I guess that’s why I haven’t picked up the show or comics because I really have no interest on seeing how others would have handled the zombie apocalypse. I would much rather experience it for myself. But like any great show, I cannot wait for the next season to start.

Verdict:
Must Play

Ratings Guide

For more information on The Walking Dead, visit the official website.

2010 PC Rev. 1.2 was used to play The Walking Dead.

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