Review by ThoughtFool1

Reviewed: 09/04/12

The Walking Dead with Characters that Live

Quick Info
The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day is a single player, point-and-click adventure-horror game that plays like an interactive storybook. It is based in the same universe as The Walking Dead comic book series. It is the first of 5 planned 'episode' games that tell the story of Lee Everett, who goes through and tries to survive in the zombie apocalypse.

===> Graphics / Animation = (interesting artstyle that works) 8/10
Telltale Games (the game developer) decided to go with a more comic book style of appearance rather then the traditionally realistic one most horror games lean towards. They end up nailing it just right, although some of the clunky animations hold the game's overall look and feel back.

> Graphics - 9/10
Instead of attempting to look as realistic (and possibly gruesome) as possible, the game draws from is comic book origins with cel-shading graphics to look more like a comic book / cartoon. While seemingly counter-intuitive for an adventure-horror game, the artstyle actually fits in well with what the game wants to accomplish...which is in telling the story of the survivors. Overall, the graphics seem to be out of touch with a zombie apocalypse, but end up fitting in really well with the game.

> Animation - 6.5/10
The animation in the game is really hit and miss. You can tell that the developers really spent a lot of time on animating the faces of the characters so that they may effectively convey emotions and nonverbally communicate with the player. However, many of the other animations that don't deal with the story-telling, such as walking, often appear somewhat clunky.

===> Music / Sounds = (superb voice acting) 9/10
The Walking Dead focuses on telling the story of the survivors, and the exemplary voice acting really enhances the experience and helps the player believe in and get involved with the characters.

> Music - 7/10
The game doesn't always run background music. Sometimes it just relies on the background sound effects while playing the game. When the music does chime in, there is usually a purpose to it...such as in setting a mood and adding to the suspense. Overall, the music isn't especially noticeable, however, it accomplishes its purpose of adding to the player experience.

> Sound Effects - 9/10
The in-game sound effects generally accomplish their job, yet the voice acting is what really takes the cake here. The game is centered around telling a story through the given dialogue and interacting with the characters, and the voice acting really allow the characters to come alive. One great example is with Clementine. She is a little girl your character comes across during his journey. A lot of her dialogue is actually simplistic or minimal (since she is just a child), but the delivery of her dialogue really helps the player to understand just how lost, scared, and innocent she really is. It ends up really allowing the player to become attached to Clementine and wanting to help and protect her during the game.

===> Storyline = (the strength of this game is in the characters) 9/10
The characters and the development of them really carry the game along. The story arc itself isn't especially involving, although it isn't boring by any means. The real story is in the characters and the interactions between them. As a bonus, fans of the series will notice appearances from characters that are in the comic books (and the TV series).

> Story Arc - 7/10
The story arc covers your character, Lee Everett, and his journey to survive during the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. The game is short, and there isn't really a lot of time to have an involving plot with a lot of intricacies or twists. However, the story is interesting enough to keep you playing to see what happens next.

> Character Development - 10/10
The characters really carry the game. They are given good dialogue, great voice acting, and the choices that they, and YOU, make during the game really tie you to them. The most intense conflict that happens in the game is in the personal struggle of the characters trying to live in a dead world and make the best of the worst situations.

===> Gameplay = (extremely simplistic, but with player choices that matter) 6/10
The gameplay, in general, is actually really weak. The controls are workable, but there isn't really much outside of point, click, and move. The game is extremely linear and easy as well. The real draw in the gameplay is in forcing the player to make difficult decisions that both stick and matter, shaping the game experience.

> Controls and Game Mechanics - 3/10
The controls in the game are extremely simple. You only have to move around and click on various objects. Also, a handful of times you may need to jam on your 'Q' and 'E' keys during an action sequence. While the game revolves around the story of the characters, the gameplay is centered on exploring your environment, solving a couple of puzzles, and a handful of action sequences. The controls do their job, but are overtly simplistic. In most action sequences instead of fending off a zombie with punch / block combos, or dodging, or the is usually a well placed click which does the job. The puzzles are pleasant, they aren't extremely hard and the game will help you out usually if you talk to the characters...but this helps to keep the focus on the characters, instead of having overly complicated or frustrating puzzles to work through.

> Difficulty and Game Length - 2/10
This game is extremely short and easy. Players should complete the episode in 2-4 hours with no real challenges on their journey.

> Player Decisions - 10/10
The choices that the player is forced to make shape the game experience. The player is faced with both timed dialogue choices that shape the characters opinion of the player as well as actual choices (such as who to save) that will effect who lives and who dies. In many of the decisions there is no clear right or real good or evil. Many put the player in a realistic grey area where there may no be real winners, no real 'right' decision. Since it is only the first episode, a lot of the choices and their consequences have yet to play out to their full potential. However, even this early, the player is forced to make difficult and telling decisions that already show how important the choices really are.

> Replay Value - Low
While the game is completely captivating on the first playthrough, there is no real reason to play through more then once. A player may want to go through and try making different decisions, however, the real draw of the game is in the story of the characters and living with the decisions that you make. Subsequent playthroughs will cheapen this effect.

===> Fun Factor / Reviewer Opinion = (compelling characters and choices) 9/10
I had a lot of fun playing this game. I'm a sucker for story-driven games and the focus is clearly on developing the characters and forcing the player to make tough decisions, so I was sold. I was a bit disappointed with how short and easy the game is...but it is an episodic adventure with a large target audience, so I let it pass.

===> Overall Impression = (great experience) 8/10
The game plays more like an extremely entertaining, interactive storybook. The game tells a great story through the characters and becomes a great experience through forcing the player to make tough decisions. It's a great game for a quick, casual playthrough.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day (US, 04/24/12)

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