I’m late to the party again, but I’ll bame university work (again).
I spent my Easter break working my way through the episodes of The Walking Dead on my Xbox. I played the first episode when it was being offered out for free a while ago, and I remember I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It seemed a bit static and a bit too much like hard work if I’m honest.
However, over Easter I noticed that there was an offer on the rest of the episodes. 400 MSP a piece. It would have been rude to not buy them really, and I can’t resist a good story about flesh-eating zombies.
I played them mostly while my boyfriend was trying to sleep off his illness that he blames Yorkshire for giving him. I ploughed through the whole thing in a week, with the occasional input from my boyfriend, suggesting choices (which I mostly ignored to be honest) and trying to swy my moral compass.
So anyway, I played through them all rather quickly as they did become slightly addictive. It was the situation of just wanting to do one more scene. I just wanted to progress that little bit further, and before I knew it I was at the end of that chapter. I stayed up until the small hours of the morning, completely gripped by the story and characters until the credits were rolling, and the birds were coming out for their morning chirp.
Overall, I really enjoyed them. Much more than I ever thought I would. It was like someone had taken the gameplay style of Heavy Rain and made it work so much better. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Heavy Rain, but it was a bit laborious at times. The Walking Dead didn’t feel like a chore, because I genuinely cared about the characters and how my actions would affect them.
The graphics initially put me off. I’m on the fence with cell shading graphics. Done well they can be brilliant. Done badly, and you’re just staring at a tacky looking piece of art. After getting into it though, it was clear that The Walking Dead had got it right with cell shading. There was enough of it to give it that cartoon feel, but not too much that it made it feel like a child’s game.
It was refreshing to see a game tackle morals in such a great way too. The choices weren’t black and white. You had to choose between people. You had to choose who lived and who died. Thinking about how they would help or hinder the group. Even though Lee wasn’t a voiceless or faceless protagonist, I felt as though my choices were really his. I was playing a character, but I made him my own, and it was like I was reflecting myself onto him.
It was also quite nice to have someone who was dependant on you, but not in an annoying way. Yes, I’m talking escort missions. I remember how annoying it was trying to keep Ashley safe in Resident Evil 4, and any other game where you have to escort some helpless being. The most that Clementine would do, is never let you forget that one time you didn’t save her from a flesh-eating zombie because someone had punched you in the face. She was a sweet girl, and I actually wanted to look after her.
My only grumbles are that there are no extra achievement for doing things a different way. This kind of took away from my desire to play it again if I’m honest, because there didn’t appear to be much incentive. On that note also, I found it disappointing on my second play through that even though I made different choices, nothing drastically changed in the story. I was expecting the story to take a dramatic turn in the opposite direction because I had chosen the opposite. It was just lacking somewhat in that area.
The ending was also somewhat disappointing for me, but I think that was before I knew there were going to be new episodes. It wasn’t dramatic enough for me, as heart breaking as it was. That all comes down to personal preference in story telling though.
In the end though, I have to say I’m very excited for the next season of The Walking Dead, and I’m intrigued to see where they go with it. I’ll make a separate blog post on my feelings on episodic gaming later, but for now I can say I’m swaying more towards the positive, as long as other episodic games can follow any similar format.