Make Canoe my Homepage

‘Walking Dead’ a good way to kill time

- July 6th, 2012

If you’re a Walking Dead fan and can’t wait for the show to return, then you might be happy to know you can join the zombie-killing fun yourself as the next instalment of The Walking Dead game is now out.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, The Walking Dead game runs as a parallel storyline to the comics and TV show and is being released in five episodes ($4.99 a piece or $19.99 for the season pass). And you sometimes run into characters from the show, such as Glenn before he meets up with his “friends” in Atlanta and Hershel at his farm before the series regulars meet up with him in the second season.

You play history teacher/accused murderer Lee Everett from Macon, Ga. As you are being taken to jail for allegedly killing a State senator who was screwing your wife, the cop car crashes and you are attacked by zombies. As the story progresses, you come across a group of people hiding in a drugstore who have reluctantly formed an alliance to survive. You can read Steve Tilley’s review of Episode 1: A New Day here.

Episode 2: Starved For Help picks up three months later as the group, now holed up in a motor inn, is running out of food. One day, you find two brothers snooping around. They run a dairy farm nearby and offer to trade you food for gas. (The motor inn has a number of abandoned cars.) You tentatively agree and go check it out with a couple of your companions. The farm has electricity (including an electric fence to keep out the zombies), a fair bit of real estate and plenty of food to go around. It seems too good to be true. And since this is The Walking Dead, of course, it is.

The game is basically a point-and-click adventure with a few quick time events for action scenes. A lot of the game involves talking with the other characters and making decisions that change the trajectory of the game. Whether it’s choosing who to save when zombies attack or simply whose side you take in a power struggle within the group, your decisions affect how the other characters relate to you and may alter the overall outcome of the episode. As such, sometimes the cutscenes are a little choppy as the game stops to search for the proper clip to insert.

Although I actually like this kind of choose-your-own-adventure game, I’m always a little reticent to play one as it all comes down to the story. Heavy Rain, for example, looked amazing (not just because of the shower and underwear fight scenes) and had intense sequences with a good sense of mystery, but the ultimate revelation of the identity of the Origami Killer was so terrible, illogical and uninspired, it completely destroyed all enjoyment in the game.

Later titles, such as Alan Wake and L.A. Noire faired somewhat better. (It didn’t hurt that they added actual action gameplay.) But even with them, you kind of had that “Is that it?” feeling when you were done.

Granted, part of The Walking Dead’s saving grace is that it’s smaller scale. There’s no big mystery to uncover, it’s just about surviving the zombie apocalypse. And the individual episodes only take a few hours to play, so things don’t drag on.

For the most part, the game succeeds. It sufficiently captures the flavour of the television show, with its Georgia setting, southern accents and nicknaming the zombies “walkers.” So far, the individual episodes focus on one or two key major events, much like a chapter in a novel. Starved For Help does seem a little thinner on content than A New Day but it keeps the pace up and things don’t get boring.

Which is more than I can say about the television series itself. The last two episodes of the first season were absolutely terrible and the middle part of the second season is similarly unbearable. In the game, at least we don’t have to listen to Rick and Shane argue for 40 minutes while they stand in the middle of a field waiting for nothing to happen.

Then again, there’s three episodes left to go, so there’s still a lot of time for the game to go downhill.

The Walking Dead – Episode 2: Starved For Help
PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PC, Mac
Telltale Games
Rating: Mature
3.5 out of 5

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available