Wot I Think: The Walking Dead Episode One

He's a walking alive.

Telltale’s first episode of their adaptation of The Walking Dead has a lot of work to do. After the terrible Jurassic Park provided an exclamation point at the end of a series of increasingly disappointing releases, reputations need rescuing here. So can the zombie thriller adventure redeem the adventure veterans? I’ve decided Wot I Think.

I’d argue people have had just about enough of zombies, so the burst of popularity for The Walking Dead as a comic and TV series was a bit of an oddity. In a world increasingly weary of yet more zombie franchises inhabited only by people who have somehow never seen any of the others, a bit more self-awareness or irony is usually demanded. But The Walking Dead comic’s concept has barely stumbled forward from Romero’s originals. The first series of Showtime’s played out more like a tribute to the Living Dead series, lacking a single original notion of its own, at a painfully slow and repetitive pace. So it seems wise of Telltale to have started a parallel story in the same universe.

Instead, this is a story about a man who falls over a LOT. But an interesting man. Lee, your character, is a standard of zombie fiction, but not the one you’d normally expect to be playing. He was being escorted to prison in a police car when the outbreak began, and an amiable chat with the officer reveals that whatever it was you’re jailed for, you likely did it. So you’re the mysterious one you’re not sure if you can trust. (Although it’s worth noting it’s a shame that a rare appearance of a black character as a protagonist should have to be a convicted felon.)

After the cop car crashes, you finally wake up sideways in the back seat, the policeman lying dead on the ground outside. Get out, and with no surprise at all he’ll attack you. Then when dealt with things pretty speedily move you along to meeting your first gang of misfits with whom you’ll try to survive, including a young child called Clementine.

Lee is a man of few words, which again makes for an interesting player character. It means, when given a selection of possible replies and a time limit to choose from them, you think a bit more carefully about what you want to say. Lee would. And a lot of those early choices are about how much you want to share – do you keep Lee extremely guarded, or open up about being a convicted criminal to others? The choices make a difference to how the game plays, how people react to you. And there are far bigger choices to make along the way, which seem like they’ll be reflected in future episodes, as well as within this one.

And overall, this is a good story. Again, as with the majority of zombie fiction, it doesn’t attempt to do anything original. It’s a small group of survivors, each with their own quirks, trying to defend temporarily safe locations, while arguing with each other. But as is the point of the genre, it’s not about the undead outside, but the nature of the humans still alive, and here it succeeds. Relationships, the danger of sharing too much in a tense situation, individual values, and the confusion of previous concerns in an utterly different world, all play out pretty well.

However, it does feel like about two-thirds of being a game. Far from being a tedious stream of quick-time events, thank goodness, interaction is still relatively limited.

Being adventure sorts, Telltale began with classic point and click interfaces, and then adapted them for their console and portable versions. But here the process has clearly happened in reverse, the game originally intended to be played with a controller, and then peculiarly reverse-engineered to work with the mouse and keyboard. The result is an oddly gloopy confusion, where WASD occasionally control your character in third person movement, and other times don’t, while your mouse controls what’s essentially an analogue cursor in soupy movements around the screen. Switch to a 360 controller, which the game elegantly lets you do – automatically changing the on-screen instructions accordingly – and you realise that your mouse has actually been emulating the restrictions of an analogue stick. Which is berserk.

It’s not helping that hot spots are often arbitrary. Look at the right object, but not the right spot on it, and there’s no recognition. Why isn’t the whole object a hotspot? And it gets worse, with hotspots completely misplaced, hovering to the left of the thing they’re related to. For example:

That's meant to be over the girl.

The art style is splendid, a Borderlands-esque rotoscoped style, evoking comic drawings in 3D models. But this is Telltale’s engine stretched to its very limits, and it creaks heavily. Everything looks great, but I wonder if the zombies are a little too cartoonish. In the more horrific moments, they can end up looking comical. And the developer’s old audio issues are back, the quality compressed so much to get a vast amount of dialogue into the game’s total 450MB, that voices bubble and pop. Which is a huge shame since the actors are all very good. Most bizarrely, at one point early on a character’s voice blips and then seemingly finishes a sentence in another voice, in German some other language. Take a look:

A bunch of bugs plagued as I played. One crash lost a bunch of progress, thanks to the extremely ungenerous chapter-based saves. And at one point I was being haunted by a pair of batteries, that mysteriously floated around the screen.

Talking of those batteries, the strangest moment in what’s otherwise a really decent story comes when a reporter for a local radio station can’t get a radio to work. It turns out it doesn’t have batteries in – fine, sure, everyone makes mistakes. But then when you offer to find some, she replies, “Thanks, I wouldn’t know what to look for.” So mystified is she by the concept of batteries that she then puts them in back-to-front. The pathetic helpless girl moment really doesn’t suit the character, nor the entire game, and just comes across as insulting to everyone involved.

But that is the exception to an otherwise well crafted plot. It gets properly dark in places, brutal choices with brutal consequences, and there are some really nice lines. It’s extremely sweary, which feels a little at odds with Telltale’s cartoonish bobble-head style, but completely appropriate for the occasion. Arguments are cruel, people are going to die, and it embraces the bleak near-hopelessness of the genre. And they don’t avoid the weirdness of an adult man turning up with a small child who isn’t his daughter.

It’s a shame that it has the issues it does, because it’s definitely well worth playing. The ending makes sure you’ll want to pick up the next chapter, and I’m not sure it needs to achieve more than that, frankly. It definitely achieves that.

This is a big improvement for Telltale, and a game that I’d argue improves on its source material. If only Telltale would accept their ten year old engine needs scrapping and starting over, and would give the PC version the space it needs to have quality audio, then this could be another leap better. But buggy and creaking as it is, and certainly lacking in enough points of interaction, it remains a tale well told.


  1. brau says:

    I like the game so far, and i do agree that they could have learned a little more about the reply options from other games. I am really curious to see how the things people remember or you do or don’t affect the story. Nothing really has come into play where i have noticed those evolve into anything else. Apart from that its a much better game than Back to the Future. I didn’t care to play Jurassic Park.

    • Mnemonic says:

      As someone else already said.. this is not a game.. it’s an interactive story…. if you thought it was a game, you got robbed… meh.

      • Ragnar says:

        A good interactive story is really all I look for in an adventure game. Heavy Rain was just an interactive story, but it’s one of most amazing games I played and I loved it.

  2. Yachmenev says:

    Sounds good. Zombie games are not my thing, but it´s good to know that Telltale has improved. I was dissapointed that the terrible Jurrasic Park and the mediocre Back to the Future followed after the excellent Tales of Monkey Island and The Devil’s Playhouse, but now it sounds like that they´re back on track again.

    • Phantoon says:

      Yes. Adventure games aren’t really my thing, but it’s good to hear Telltale is more or less back on track.

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  3. meloncrab says:

    Popping by to say that whatever that guy’s saying, it’s definitely not German. Since I don’t think voice overs in other languages that’d sound similar are too common, I might suspect that this is not a bug but intended.

    • John Walker says:

      It may not be German, but it doesn’t sound like the voice he uses for the rest of the game, and it sure doesn’t sound like English.

      • Karl says:

        I can’t remember what the subtitle said but it sounds like “Awww, it’s…blabla…night.”

      • Lars Westergren says:

        “Aww, it’s hot dish night”?

        But it does sound like “haute diese nacht” or something like that. You are right John, the audio is a bit poor.

        • slymcbeans says:

          You are correct, he is 100% saying “Awww, it’s hot dish night”
          A bit surprised that there was confusion about this, I heard it clear as day when I played through the game last night. But then when I had my coworker listen to the video you posted, he was not sure what was being said…

          • Randomer says:

            Yeah, it sounds clear to me too. But I suppose he does have a slightly redneck accent.

          • Morlock says:

            Please add me to “the hot dish night” camp. I am German, and this is what I heard.

          • DuddBudda says:

            I heard what he said, I just don’t know what a ‘Hot Dish Night’ is
            do they put the plates in the oven to warm them up? that’s just good practice

          • ttcfcl says:

            Hotdish is another name for casserole. You basically put a can of soup into a baking pan, and top it with tatertots, augrautin potatoes, pasta, meat or some other similar stuff then you bake it. Hot Dish Night would be a community gathering (probably at a church) similar to a potluck but people bring their own styles of hotdish. I don’t know where The Walking Dead game takes places but assume from the comics and the character’s accent that it’s in the south. And from what I know, hotdish is a word only used in Minnesota/the midwest (I’m Minnesotan so I don’t know where else it’s common) so that makes it seem odd in the context of the game.

          • Gormongous says:

            I assume the writer didn’t know what a strict regionalism it is. We have a guy from the Great Lakes in our department who is continually surprised that words from his local dialect aren’t used everywhere, including “hotdish”.

          • noodlecake says:

            What’s a tatertot? “Tater” is Yorkshire for Potato and “tot” presumably means a child of some kind. So tatertots are some kind of potato/human child hybrid monsters? Presumably from the game Resident Evil?

          • noodlecake says:

            Oh wait. I googled it. They are just Hash Browns with a silly American brand name. :P

          • RotBot says:

            Anybody who played Puzzle Agent should have heard of hot dish, though that did take place in region-appropriate Minnesota instead of Georgia. Maybe Telltale’s just putting it there as a Puzzle Agent reference.

        • cog says:

          Yes “Awww, it’s hot dish night.” is the correct line. “Hot dish” is a Midwestern US (I’m my experience, primarily Minnesota) term for a “casserole” style entree. I actually had to read the comments to figure out which part John couldn’t understand.

      • Randomer says:

        If the video that you are talking about is the one I see embedded above, here is the (entirely English) transcription:

        Dude1: Uhh, erghh! Oh, Man..
        Dude2: I ain’t never getting home to Momma at this rate.
        Dude1: This sucks.
        Dude2: Aww, it’s hot dish night!

        • Shuck says:

          And yet, even with the transcript, all I can hear is, “Awww, hotdish nigh.”

      • Baresark says:

        When I played that part, the audio didn’t do that to me… I don’t remember what he said though, I think he said “it’s almost night”….

      • Gotem says:

        wasn’t smoething like:
        Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer?

  4. nandio says:

    I would like to point out that this man is not speaking German. Not a single word.


    a German.

  5. MuscleHorse says:

    Would you say this is worth playing if you have no knowledge/little interest in the rest of the franchise? I’d like to give any new adventure game a go but the comics and tv show look pretty bland.

    • John Walker says:

      Yes, very much so. I’m saying it’s much more worthwhile playing this than watching the TV show.

      • NeutralGrey says:

        The comics are actually really good. You seem to be dismissing them in the article based on the TV show. Check them out!

    • brau says:

      I watched the tv show and wasn’t really impressed. people claim the new season is way better. But to me, like you said it was pretty bland and lacking. This game is entirely different tho. I am having a good time, and i think its about the characters faced with the strain of the living dead roaming around. I am excited to see what they do with the rest of the chapters.

      • Bork Titflopsen says:

        The comics are very good IMO, of course the setting is pretty standard so don’t expect to be blown away by that, but the characters are all done really well. (That is untill the crazy ninja lady with zombies shows up)

        As for the show? Well… the first episode is definitely worth a watch, but only that one.

        • DrScuttles says:

          When first introduced as a sword-wielding ninja with pet zombies, Michonne was a pretty ridiculous character. But then I’d argue that the whole prison thing got the Walking Dead stuck in a rut. It was after that whole Ultimate Evil Bad Guy The Governor business was over and done with that the comics really picked up again.

          Gave up on the show. Watched the first series thinking “this is gonna get awesome!” and watched the second series waiting for said awesomeness to occur. Having given something almost 20 episodes to ‘get good’, there seems to be little point in hoping for anything better from it.
          But it seems popular, so what do I know?

          • HothMonster says:

            I agree the second season was really stagnant. I imagine the whole budget/director fiasco derailed the season a bit. I feel like it started well then just kind of killed time until the last 1 and a half episodes. Plus the cast characters that never made it into the show. To me it seems like if Darabont had been left alone with a decent budget the characters would be where they are now about 6 episodes earlier.

            but next season….next season is gonna be great.

            I don’t think the prison was a rut though. The whole spoiler with michonne and the gov and rick losing his spoiler. And jesus the death of spoiler spoiler spoiler. When spoiler gets locked in the spolier for like 3 days and then fucking spolier. But even without all that the series has an ebb and flow to it. Where things slow down and its almost becomes normal, like maybe this is what life is gonna be now then BAM rick gets kicked in the junk. But I do agree the Hunter arc that happens shortly after the prison issues end is amazing.

          • psyk says:

            Read the comics John so different to the tv show.

            Going to be interesting to see if they do the part with the thing in the garden with the thing and the thing that happens to the thing in the tv series.

        • HothMonster says:

          You don’t think Michonne is a good character? Sure she is crazy as shit but losing everyone you love and then surviving alone for months in the zombie apocalypse will do that to you. She is a bit off the wall when she is introduced but I think she is very believable once you get to know her.

          • DuddBudda says:

            I think you’ve perfectly summed up why Europeans don’t care for the modern American zombie
            cf: Dead Set

          • HothMonster says:

            I’m confused by what you mean? What did I describe that turns Europeans off? Characters believably stressed to the point of insanity? Characters that turn hard as nails and cold instead of curling up in a ball when shit hits the fan? I am surely missing something.

          • Spengbab says:

            He means the nonsensical (is nonsensical a word? I have no idea) character of a black female ninja who keeps her ex-lovers chained to her as pets.

            Thinking outside the box is great, but in an otherwise realistic world, the character just stands out way too much, screaming “LOOK AT ME, 12-year olds, and be amazed”. Then again, the story has other problems, the ultimate bad guy of ultimate destiny being one

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      If you have little interest in the franchise, I’d say don’t play it. The gameplay is not really engaging in its own right, so if you’re not into zombie fiction, I can’t see it being a fun game to play.

  6. wodin says:

    As a fan of the comics I enjoyed it. More like an interactive story. Fiddly controls and camera angles and conversations seem to clash at times to what had previously been said.

    Still looking forward to the next episode.

    • psyk says:

      “Fiddly controls and camera angles”


      The game uses WASD and the mouse in the normal point and click way how is that fiddly in any way?

      And same with the camera angles.

  7. sinister agent says:

    Funny timing – I just yesterday watched the Walking Dead for the first time. Gave up after a few episodes as it was clear that the only thing it offered was zombies, which were done to death (oho) years ago, and men shouting and women crying and screeching, which I can get by visiting the in-laws. Also as a US series that’s found success, it will of course never resolve any plot points and instead just pull anything out of its arse for as long as possible.

    The pathetic helpless girl moment really doesn’t suit the character, nor the entire game, and just comes across as insulting to everyone involved.

    It fits the series perfectly, though. Batteries have nothing to do with washing clothes or screaming. Why would she know anything about them?

    Oddly pleasant to hear that they’ve improved, after the letdown of JP. I doubt I’ll bother, but good luck to them I suppose.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Don’t compare the game, which is based on the graphic novels, to the TV series. They’re totally different beasts.

      • sinister agent says:

        I wasn’t aware there was one, to be honest, but your and several other comments on here have said similar things. Seems fair enough really.

    • ShadowTeufel232 says:

      … You must get off on being a troll and an asshole. Here, have some food. Good … Now go back under your bridge.

      • sinister agent says:

        Oh for goodness’ sake. If I were trolling I’d have said a lot worse than “it’s just zombies again”.

        If you can’t bear calm, polite criticism of something you like, you really shouldn’t be on the internet.

  8. Thirith says:

    And no one comments on how conspicuous that it’s a guy called “Walker” giving his opinion on The Walking Dead? The game’s up, John – we know what you are. You can now stop gnawing on Kieron’s head.

  9. Jamesworkshop says:

    ” So mystified is she by the concept of batteries that she then puts them in back-to-front. ”

    batteries how do they work

    link to chzragecomics.files.wordpress.com

    link to media.tumblr.com

  10. Nemon says:

    The Walker Dead, where is episode 3?? Come on!

  11. S Jay says:

    Too expensive.

    • J-snukk says:

      It’s probably worth noting that the price is for five episodes, but you only get the first on release. Episodic gaming rearing its strange, malformed head again.

  12. Luke says:

    I never really got into The Walking Dead.
    I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the lamentably short-lived Death Valley. It was just the right amount of silly.

  13. Jimbo says:

    “Although it’s worth noting it’s a shame that a rare appearance of a black character as a protagonist should have to be a convicted felon.”

    Based on the Prison Architect comments, this is a statistical certainty. It’s the prison industrial complex at work, man.

    • PopeJamal says:

      For what it’s worth, I’m fairly pleased with the character. He:
      a) looks like a “black” man, not a “really well tanned white guy”
      b) he speaks regular (American) English (not “Yo! Yo! Yo! Know-what-im-sayin!!” music video langauge)
      c) he isn’t wearing a baseball cap
      d) or a gold medallion as big as his head
      e) he has a job
      f) that doesn’t involve a gun or a ball
      g) he’s intelligent
      h) he has REAL FEELINGS! Emotions even!

      It gives me hope for the future.

      Having said all that, it is very much a game more focused on story than “gaming” which I actually liked. Very minimal “fetch the blue key for the blue door” and no “cat moustache” nonsense. All of the lightweight puzzles made sense and didn’t seem too contrived.

      As for the conversation timer, I really like it. Without a timer, I will literally sit there for 5 minutes min-maxing my response. The timer forces me to actually roleplay. It changes conversations from “How do I win the conversation tree?” to “OMG, let me find the most appropriate response before my inaction becomes a de facto choice!”

      Another thing not mentioned at all is the fact that the Steam version was released six or more hours before…well, actually, I don’t know if the pre-order version from the TT site is actually available yet. Because (at least in part) of a 60+ page complaint thread on their forums, they caved in and gave all their web store pre-order customers a steam key just so they could have access to the game on release day. Not the best situation to get themselves into, but I think they made the right choice and I “forgive” them for their goof-up.

      Overall, I am very pleased and I’m excited to play the next four episodes. I couldn’t say I was this interested in finishing Back to the Future.

      • Boffin says:

        I uh, think that someone playing an adventure game based off a comic will probably have higher than average reading skills. There was plenty of time, imho to read all the options and there were also “relaxed” conversations where there wasn’t a timer and you had more verbose options.

        I think it’s an awesome thing and should be used more often because it really does give your decisions more weight. It’s possible to panic and make decisions that you wouldn’t normally – instead of the world grinding to a halt as soon as someone starts talking to you.

  14. MFToast says:

    I think he’s saying “Awww, it’s hot dish night”, about getting home to his mama. Also known as a Casserole.

  15. terry says:

    Now I want to play a game that abruptly changes languages and you have to learn what characters are saying from context /molyneux

    • qrter says:

      For that you could try playing just about any Russian-language game that has been translated into English – I would especially recommend Pathologic.

    • terry says:

      Haha, come to think of it, I do have White Gold which sort of does that, and E.Y.E might as well do that for all the sense it makes anyway… you might be onto something :-)

  16. jonfitt says:

    Are Telltale likely to patch it to fix bugs? My impression is that each episode is fire and forget.

  17. Kohlrabi says:

    I will avoid this game based on the single note that the audio quality is again horrible, as it has been with all previous Telltale releases. I wonder how important saving a few megabytes of filesize is to them. I also wonder how much you can fuck up mixing and encoding Ogg Vorbis to end up with all these hisses and pops in every single release.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      They don’t use Vorbis for speech (just for music, I think). That’s the problem. They use Speex, which is and always has been a pile of shit.

      It’s extremely frustrating. I was bitching at Telltale about this when the first Sam & Max game was released, but they wouldn’t budge. They insist on ruining the audio every time.

      • Llewyn says:

        I think you’re being unreasonable there. There’s little inherently wrong with Speex, and personally I’d say it’s pretty good at what it’s intended to be: a completely open, low-bandwidth, computationally light, high-quality real-time voice encoder. The problems come from people using it for things it’s not designed for, like this.

        Consider envelopes. When you want to send a letter, envelopes rock. But only Telltale would pack 20kg of luggage into envelopes and check them in at the airport when travelling.

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          I considered clarifying that, but then went ‘meh’. But yes, it’s a decent VoIP codec – that’s all. Stupid idiots use it for other things because they’re stupid idiots.

  18. Ravelle says:

    I didn’t experience any bugs so far but there were some weird technicall things, like when you walk close to an object your character starts to vibrate and the sound seemed to be cracking at some points when characters were talking.

    Graphic wise it was a little strange, all the characters were rendered in high resolution while zombies that were not part of a direct interaction with the plot were low resolution rendered. Objects looked fine from a far but when zoomed in, like when trying to open a car door, it was blurry low resolution again.

    And I found that the main character was the least interesting of them all, he doesn’t seem to have any decent lines and often replies with short reponses, maybe that changes in the second episode but so far I didn’t really get interested in him.

    But despite all that they did a good job translating both the show and the comics to a game and had a good time with it, even though it was a bit short.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      There’s actually already a thread about the game locking up/lagging/stuttering which may or not be attributed to a badly done shadow effect implementation.
      The bug definitely exists.

  19. pilouuuu says:

    Haha it’s funny that I’ve met some people who put batteries back-to-front

  20. methylene blue says:

    I thought this was a pleasant surprise, and I’m not a fan of the comics or the show. Nothing new here, but at the same time it *feels* new because you have to make the “impossible” decisions, and you’re limited by a timer, which literally turns it into a kind of psychological test (the unforgiving save system makes sense in this regard). Through all the Fallouts and Mass Effects, I’ve never really felt the weight of my actions, but there were a number of moments here where I actually felt guilty–there’s something about the glares of these cel-shaded characters that’s eerily convincing. It helps that the writing is exceptional.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      About that “unforgiving” save system:
      It may autosave, but you can simply while in a subchapter press Escape if you realize that you did the wrong thing, go back to the main menue and reload. The autosave is at the beginning of each subchapter, each of which is only maybe 5-15 minutes worth anyhow.
      And better yet, you can also make a copy of that save state, thus enabling you to go back to 2 seperate earlier locations if you so choose, and, if you simply copy about the actual local files themselves, basically can subchapter all of the game completely.
      And then there is that “Rewind” button for the saves themselves.

      The timer idea is simply dumb, dickish and annoying, not suspenseful or a totally awesome game mechanic.
      It was shit in AP and it is shit here.

      Quite frankly, I am amazed they went with it, because me, even as a fast reader, already feel rushed, and lord knows that most of the american gaming population has enough trouble getting through half the text in the same time(not even having a go; that really is the sad state of affairs with average reading comprehension levels).

  21. webwielder says:

    Can we get one of them petitions going to fix the audio in this? I really wanted to like the Wallace and Gromit games, and I was even willing to live with the Sallis impersonator, but the audio quality just made it wholly unpleasant.

  22. Baresark says:

    I really like the first episode. It was a great play. But the non PC specific parts made me angry. When I looked at the controls, no matter what it gave me 360 controls. The textures were gross up close. None of the lines were smooth.

    I already paid for it, but if I hadn’t I might have held off for two reason.
    1. I really really want to play the next episode and it sucks that I have to wait a month for each one.
    2. I would have waited to see if they did some fixes for this game.

    I don’t know if Telltale’s record is good at that type of thing, but I’m hoping they are. I own some of their other games, but I have never bought them on release, I usually wait for a sale on Steam. Which is weird for me since I love point and click adventure games. Though, I hated what they did to Monkey Island, I am a fan going back to the first game. It was my first favorite genre of games, back when absolutely everything was a side scroller with rare exceptions.

  23. Optimaximal says:

    I thought Telltale made it very clear that it was a side-story to the graphic novels, not the TV series, hence the darker mood, slower pacing and the graphic style mimicking Charles Adlard’s artwork.

    If you go into expecting to meet the TV cast, you’re going to be very disappointed.

  24. DrGonzo says:

    “If only Telltale would accept their ten year old engine needs scrapping and starting over”

    If only games journalist would accept they don’t understand how engines work and would stop commenting on them :P

    But seriously, interested in trying this now, especially after that first paragraph. I thought the comic and TV show were very poor and was quite shocked by the popularity of it. Zombie fans aren’t much different to the zombies themselves, they will consume the same bland monotonous stuff over and over again.

    • Optimaximal says:

      I have to ask – how much of the comic have you read?

      • wodin says:

        The comic was poor?? I have a hard time believing you’ve ever read one of them. I have the big 300 page volumes and it’s one of the best comics\graphic novels I’ve read and I’ve read alot.

  25. Kaje says:

    It’s not German, or any other language but English.

    He says:

    “Aww, it’s hot dish night.”

    In an American accent.

    It’s essentially just a type of cooking.

    link to family.go.com

  26. Demiath says:

    The first episode was very workmanlike, as one might expect from something episodic. With the exception of Lee and Clementine I thought most of the dialogue and voice acting ranged from bland to bad. The “choices & consequences” aspect is really nice, though, and I hope it is properly integrated into further episodes to the extent which we are lead to believe that it will be.

  27. jackflash says:

    I don’t think “rotoscoped” means what you think it means.

  28. Snoken says:

    I just finished the first chapter and I can’t really say it is a good game but it certainly is not the worst either. The graphics look ok but could probably be a lot better, sound is fair and I somewhat liked the voices and dialogues. The worst thing about it is the controls though if you actually want to change your mouse sensitivity and some basic controls there just is no way, the game menu just shows you a gamepicture of a controller (yay I have never seen one before and would probably not know how to use it if it wasn’t for that epic picture), I don’t know about you guys but that seemed quite retarded to me.

    The story was okay, allthough I have to say that I was really annoyed by the clumsiness of Lee in the beginning and the radio thing was deeply insulting (omg that woman is not capable of putting in a couple batteries even though the inside of the lid shows you how to put them in). Also there is a lot of interactions that don’t really add up.

    Anyways I will probably play the rest of this adventure because I liked the show a lot so far and I was entertained enough to play through the first chapter of this game in one go because it somehow manages to recreate the theme of the show (yes it also seemed to be a wee bit short to me).

    The main reason I took the time to comment on this though is that I am really amazed about people that can’t get past the fact that the walking dead is not just about “zombies” when it comes to the tv show. It might look like it for a short while but in fact it is about people surviving a postapocalyptic worst case scenario. It is about love, friendship, honesty, loyalty, betrayal, hate and the rest of the things that make us what we are. How can you keep a group of people together that obviously would not interact with one another if the world would not have drowned in chaos.

    The show has a very deep philosophical side to it that most people posting here apparently don’t seem to get. Did you really expect this show to be only about shooting dead people in the face? Where is the empathy? Someone dared to show the human aspect of such a tragedy for once and you can’t stop moaning about the show being boring because there is not enough bloodshed going on in every episode.

    Ah well, no wonder all hell is breaking loose in the world…and trust me I also played the Diablo 3 beta so after reading some of these horrible posts alongside with the bullshit that people post in the D3 forums about a game they apparently never played but still think is cool I guess I get a very good idea of what old people mean when they say that all hope is lost.

  29. bit.bat says:

    I don’t really understand why people have had enough with zombies in games. What makes zombie movies and books great in my opinion is the whole desperate futile struggle thing and all the drama and horror that comes with that.

    In games on the other hand we get XP jumping out of a zombie’s face in Dead Island, mauling zombies with throwing-knife-hat-drill-buckets in Dead Rising, and Lollipop Chainsaw.

    Left for Dead i thought nails the tone but no singleplayer…

  30. RegisteredUser says:

    The biggest thing to know here, is that this is not a game.

    It is an interactive episode of an attempt to a prequel to the comic book.

    DON’T expect any actual “gaming” beyond clicking at 1-2 things and having 1-2 conversations before the next cutscene comes.

    And on top of this, it is quicktime events(read: stupid moron monkey shit, yes that’s how we view our gamer audience, mashy mashy button smashy GOOBOY!) and _timed_ conversations, i.e. if you wish to play this game, don’t think you can at any moment feel at liberty to move about while doing so, because you might just auto-choose something you had no intention to(another subtle stab at the audience; we don’t really NEED you to input anything, we’re going to run our show anyhow!).

    Well sod you very much, too, Telltale.

    But if its the above first few bits you want, then that’s exactly what you will get and I suspect many will like it.

  31. mellis5 says:

    Err, Showtime? Unless I’m confused on what you meant, The Walking Dead is an AMC program, not Showtime.

    • Optimaximal says:

      I assumed John got confused with Skybound which is Kirkman’s comic company…

  32. Curry the Great says:

    I really enjoyed the first episode. Yeah it´s quicktime-events, but for the first time I felt really involved in it. Desperately mashing A to keep a zombie off you makes a little bit of sense to me, it certainly gave me the feeling of desperation. Same with aiming wobbly at zombies to kill ’em. Maybe it was because I played it at night with the lights off, a controller and good headphones, but I got really immersed. Fun!

    One thing that bothers me though is the huge spoilers at the end of the game. They decide to give away a lot of stuff about the next chapters, why on earth would I want to know that? I just turned my screen off and tried to ignore it, but it seems very silly that you’re going to know what’s going to happen next.

  33. Zedek says:

    When I played through, at the start it was made clear that I most likely DID NOT commit the crimes I was convicted of. It seem different responses get different reactions from the officer.

    • Josh W says:

      Same here, in fact, I don’t think I said anything, he started the conversation with “well I don’t think you did it then”, and we carried on from there. Maybe experimenting with mouse movement makes your character seem shifty?

  34. UncleLou says:

    Am I missing something here, or is not only the season pass on PSN cheaper than on Steam, but you can also buy separate episodes on the consoles, but are forced to buy all at once on Steam?

  35. Mnemonic says:

    Playing this was painful… it’s like reading a comic, except you’re a pre-schooler and have to sound out all the words… the game play is… like Leisure Suit Larry or something… and the fact I am old enough to remember that game should tell you… games aren’t meant to be played like THIS anymore… sorry. I thought this was FPS, not… click, click, click… and wait…. I feel kind of robbed. Sorry…

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      Could you please stop stealing all the full stops? (or at least use them up in better ways).
      While you’re there, could you also stop writing stupidness like this:

      [i]”games aren’t meant to be played like THIS anymore”[/i]

      You see, thought processes aren’t meant to be thought like THAT anymore. When you brain splurge in that fashion it only ever demonstrates a high degree of daftitude in action.

      On top of that, the fact that you “feel kind of robbed” says it all really, considering the amount of previews and videos out there that have demonstrated *exactly* what the gameplay is like and what to expect from it.

  36. newprince says:

    Showtime? Maybe this is because I’m in the US, but here it’s on AMC.

    And, ugh, everyone’s a critic. Go watch My Little Pony.

  37. ShadeMage says:

    A couple of points here. First I get the feeling that the reviewer, John Walker, doesn’t actually like the whole Zombie genre thing. Zombies are not over done, nor is a significant marketable segment of the population yawning when they see a new Zombie title that looks promising. Whether it be a video game, or TV show, or a movie that looks like it’s been done properly. It’s HUGE. This makes me wonder why he even reviewed the game at all and maybe should have passed it along to a colleague who would have enjoyed it more.

    That being said, I think some of what John said about the game engine itself was fair. It was struggling, and there were some frustrating things about the interface, and the sound,,,that was just annoying. The feel of it was cartoonish, but It was designed to be this way. To read like a comic book. It’s not really a “game” but an interactive story. I think it did exactly what it was meant to do. If your looking for more action like a zombie slay ride, look someplace else. This isn’t that kind of game. Acting was top notch. Story was awesome. Regrettably for my 22 clams it was way too short. I was done in a few hours, and I played it twice. I’m wondering if my choices will somehow carry over to the next installment or if I start over again with a clean slate? Also there doesn’t appear to be any way to go back and just do a particular act over again and try out the different choices. You want to save person A over Person B (which you have to do twice in this game) you have go back and do it all over again from the beginning to see the different results.

    Bottom line is it needs some work, and it needs to be longer, but overall it was great.

    • Optimaximal says:

      I too thought this as I was under the impression one of the other Hivemind members was a TWD comic fan.

      Probably mistakenly…

  38. Branthog says:

    I just finished the first episode and it was a blast. The art style is pleasant, then interface is intuitive enough, the characters are archetypal but compelling, and after the two-hours-and-fifteen minutes, you’re left eagerly awaiting the next episode.

    It wasn’t really a game. Not even really an “adventure” game. It was an interactive story. And that’s completely fine. At this point, I’m looking forward to the next episode of this game more than I am the next episode of the television show (which has only worsened since the last episode of the first season).

    I normally despise episodic content, don’t enthusiastically embrace point and click or adventure games, and am not the biggest Walking Dead fan. In fact, I’m mostly zombied out, for now. This game managed to overcome all of those things and I’m delighted I bought it.

    I just hope that, if the first five episodes continue to be at least this good, they consider more “seasons”. Each season could follow one group of people. In season two, give us another half dozen episodes with a whole new group.

  39. wodin says:

    The art style really matches upto the the comics. I really enjoyed it. However it was an interactive comic rather than a game.

  40. Thermal Ions says:

    Sounds like a “wait until they offer the 1st episode for free” enticement deal, or a price discount.

    “the weirdness of an adult man turning up with a small child who isn’t his daughter”
    Given the context (zombie apocalypse) it’s rather a shame that in the modern world this is sufficiently “weird” that it evokes a comment in a games review. It would be a sad state of affairs if a man or woman didn’t save a child because other survivors they may encounter might judge them for accompanying a child not their own.

    • Optimaximal says:

      It’s properly in context of the comic – most of the surviving groups Rick & co bump into are built up of fragmented families with random people who escaped/were rescued from their turned relatives who died trying to protect them.

      The Walking Dead isn’t about zombies – it’s about how humanity devolves and struggles to cope when doomed. To paraphrase, they [the surviving cast] all know they’re going to die at some point – they accept *they* are ‘the walking dead’.

  41. Boffin says:

    I loved so much of this game, even with some weird stuttering going on with the sound at some points. There was also a bit where a character asked me a question, then started berating me for not answering them. Only problem was I just had, so we started having two conversations at the same time.

    The only thing I really disliked was the whole radio/battery thing. It seemed like a little joke, but then snowballed into something ridiculously stupid.

    It also seemed to end right as it was hitting its stride – which I suppose is the downside to episodic gaming. I’d always prefer to buy a full game later on, rather than getting a bargain now and knowing what I’m missing out on for the rest of the development time.

    • Username says:

      While the clueless female gig was overdone, I think they were setting up a dilemma in that later you must choose between the dead-eye shot who is technically inept (and has some dirt on you) vs. the skilled ubergeek.

      Possibly saving the repercussions for much further down the line.

  42. ShadowTeufel232 says:

    What I Think: There are some moments where this is a rather poor review. I usually don’t comment on reviews and such, because most of the time any comments are just mindless drivel thrust forth by fanatics who can’t form an intelligent sentence. But really … Did you do ANY sort of actual research before submitting this article? And isn’t there some sort of editing or QA’ing process before an article is posted?

    First off: Commenting that the TV series is on Showtime, rather then correctly stating it’s on AMC … Really? Really?

    Second: The so-called “German audio skip”? Playing through the episode with subtitles would have quite easily solved that mystery. If not that, a quick look-up online and you would have had your answer.

    Also: The graphical style is actually cel-shading, not rotoscoping. This concern is kind of half nitpicking, half there really is a difference between the two. First off, cel-shading is when the graphical look is already created directly into the object. Rotoscoping is when the object is already created, and then the graphical look is added onto it. They also look quite different from one-another (Look at, say … the difference between The Walking Dead Game and the movie A Scanner Darkly). Also, cel-shading has been used since around 2000. Do we really only recognize it from Borderlands? Just off the top of my head, without looking anything up, I can name various Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, X-Men Legends (1 and 2), the Viewtiful Joe games, XIII, No More Heroes (1 and 2), Afro Samurai, MadWorld, Jet Set Radio, Futurama, and various Zelda games.

    Lastly: The comment about Lee’s race. Are you trying to stir something up where there isn’t anything? The game developers decided upon the backstory of their main protagonist. Should this sway their decision of his race? Should they have thought “You know what, since Lee is going to be a convicted felon, we should make sure he’s white.” No, absolutely not. There is no correlation between Lee’s backstory and his race, the fact that he just happens to be black is inconsequential. In fact, not once through my time reading any article about the game leading up to its release, nor any time that I played through the episode, did I ever think about that until reading your article.

    Aside from that last concern, which I feel should never have been added into the article in the first place, any of those points could have been resolved with just a couple of minutes of actual research before posting. Come on … You can do better.

    • Boffin says:

      I think it’s a fair call to say that as cool as it is to have a normal black guy as the main character – it’s a shame that he had to be a criminal. Nothing is getting stirred here, and I’d suggest that you’re trying to agitate the mix instead.

      Or this is just a malformed sentence by a mindless fanatic, whatever.

      • ShadowTeufel232 says:

        What I’m saying is that a character’s backstory should have no bearing upon their race. Developers should not have to think or worry about what the public’s reaction will be to such things. Lee Everett is, in all actuality, a normal black guy. In fact, he’s a normal guy. A normal person. A normal human being. It’s not like the crime that he’s convicted for is even stereotypical or racially depraving. I’d ask any male (or female, for that matter – just reverse the roles) how they’d react in such a situation. Anyone could sit here and type out a reply saying how it was wrong and they’d never do it … But I guarantee that every single one us could potentially end up right in Lee’s position. Before the walker walks out in front of the cruiser, obviously.

        • Boffin says:

          In a perfect world, it shouldn’t. In a prefect world black men wouldn’t be stereotyped as criminals and thugs either. So until then, I think it’s something to be mindful of. However, nobody’s saying this was offensive, because Telltale came up with a believable human being. Personally I would’ve sidestepped the entire issue by not connecting a black character with murder (which is actually pretty in line with the whole “black people as less civilised/more violent” bs).

          So yeah, it’s not wrong, but there’s nothing wrong with a little racial awareness either.

          And yeah, I definitely took that the wrong way then – fair call!

          • Enso says:

            Just finished it. It’s okay but pretty uninspiring stuff, especially the interactions. It’s all just aim and press a button or press a button a lot. Much more could have been done to create a sense of tension, of which there is none.

            ****Perhaps spoilers abound******

            Fight Night Round 3’s knock down mechanic springs to mind which really made me feel like I was struggling. A lot more than the repeated presses of a single button. link to youtube.com
            A similar mechanic could have been implemented here where there is a target or zone that you must reach, for instance you must get both icons (or a single one in the case of using a mouse) to the top of the screen while they shake and fight your attempts spasmodically.

            The attacking is also pretty rubbish. The worst moment was the use of the axe on two zombies in which all you have to do is aim and press a button. In this case having to actually pull back and swing would have meant more time required to execute the desired action and so more tension. They could have achieved that with a pad and a mouse too.

            All in all I just don’t feel much love in their games.

      • ShadowTeufel232 says:

        Also, I wasn’t saying everyone that comments on reviews is a mindless fanatic. I meant to aim that towards people who comment to complain about a review for games. Unfortunately, it’s early in the morning and I wasn’t able to really sleep well last night, so instead it came out as semi-mindless drivel that wasn’t properly QA’d before posting. Well played.

        See? I can critique myself, as well.

    • Curry the Great says:

      I didn’t get a racist vibe at all, your guy was a teacher in a university that committed a rather grey crime-of-passion. Don’t mind at all that he’s black and a “criminal”.

      • Boffin says:

        Maybe your choices changed it a bit, but my guy’s crime was (maybe a spoiler!) not a grey area at all. It wasn’t like it was self defence or anything like that. It was straight up angry-killing.

        • psyk says:

          Maybe the guy fell over and hit his head when lee punched him, maybe lee shot him, maybe the guy fell out a window and got hit by a car.

    • Plopsworth says:

      I wouldn’t call it cell-shading though. The art-style is more like hand-drawn line art used as textures. Both this game and Borderlands have smooth gradient shading instead of two-tone cell-shading in the way that the games you mentioned do. There isn’t even a strict line contour to every character and/or object as in games like XIII.

      Therefore, I think the comparison to Borderlands is a good one.

  43. psyk says:

    Well just finished it and got to say as a fan of the comics that it was awesome. Getting to see a couple of characters from before rick met them was nice. One thing though, the game runs pretty much fine maybe a bit of slowdown but only by a few frames, what antiqued rigs are people playing on? the audio is fine and the controls and view also work fine, the only thing that is fucked is the hotspots which seem to of been placed by a drunk.

    • Boffin says:

      Yeah, it’s all good and well with the advanced ui enabled so you can see where they’ve hidden them, but it would be totally impossible to play with it turned off. No idea why they didn’t go with the tried and tested method of “click on what you want to interact with”.

      • psyk says:

        Just before that post I had finished the game with the cheat mode disabled was far from impossible, just mind blowing it was done that way. Minor spoiler – Like the pillow WTF that took a long time considering the rest of the “game”.

  44. andytizer says:

    If anyone else is experiencing technical problems, there is a wiki page of fixes for this game: link to pcgamingwiki.com

  45. Rukishou says:

    If I pause the game at any time while using a 360 controller a huge mouse cursor appears in the middle of the screen and this doesn’t go away. I can try to move it with my mouse but more often than not it instantly warps to the dead center of the screen again…

    I know I’m not the only one with this issue, but does anyone know if there is a fix? Besides not pausing the game ever. lol

  46. Onishi says:

    I 90% agree with the review, though I do have to say one slight issue I had with the game that didn’t get addressed. Now before making this claim I do have to note the disclaimer, This is only off the first episode, and maybe it will be rectified within the 2nd+ episodes. But deep down your decisions within the first chapter, have virtually no impact on the story within the timeframe of the first chapter.

    Avoiding spoilers I am going to be as vague as humanly possible mentioning no names or specifics of the events, if you are nice and back somoene, that person saves you later in the game, if you treat that person like dirt the entire game, that person tells you you are an asshole as he saves you at that point in the game. At one point you get a choice to save one of 2 people, if you chose one person, you succeed. If you chose the other, you cannot succeed and someone else saves the first one.

    Someone I did not side with on my first playthrough, does something bad to you. On second playthrough I backed the person 100% and did every move to suck up to him as much as possible, reached the point where he hinders… Yup he still hinders me despite my sucking up to him.

    So far the only thing I noticed, was slight shifts in whether people like or dislike you at different times, but what they ultimately do is identical.

    Now again, maybe they are all intended to be much larger decisions that add up over the course of a much longer story, but on replaying it to see what happens when you chose things differently, it felt like the 100% identical story, even in who helps or hinders you, despite making 100% oposite choices.

  47. elnalter says:

    RPS, I’m going to disagree with your criticism on the reporter not knowing about batteries. We’re living in a time of lithium batteries where everything is powered with a charger now. Even cars have lithium. I think it might be another one of those cases where RPS is overreacting to a non-existent case of chauvinism. It’s just an excuse to make a fetch quest, not an anti-women agenda. Chill out.