I hate zombies. Anything to do with them is to be avoided; books, games and films. This probably stems from getting to play Resident Evil on the PlayStation when I was too young. After less than an hour I had been sufficiently terrified and spent the next few nights waking up from zombie filled nightmares and going back to sleep only to have more zombie themed nightmares in the same night. Flash forward to today and I wouldn’t say I’m still that afraid of them but I don’t enjoy stories that involve them. Even a game I really enjoyed, Saints Row: The Third, had an island of zombies in it which I spent as little time as possible in. So naturally I decided to play The Walking Dead…wait what?
Another writer here at PlayStationer.net is partially to blame for this; Fran strongly recommended I try it. This normally wouldn’t be enough to get me to play a zombie game, all through 2012 I had been avoiding updates and reviews on The Walking Dead as each of its five parts were released, positive it wasn’t for me. However along with a growing amount of glowing reviews it was then declared game of the year for 2012. Unenthusiastically I decided it was time to take notice.
Even after agreeing to try it, I wasn’t agreeing to buy it. Demo time! My first thought was Heavy Rain with zombies. The commands and being allowed choose your reaction immediately brought to mind this great game. The cartoon style design with thick black lines on the edges of characters is impressive, then of course comes the tension filled zombie/walker attack. I can detach myself from the game to avoid this but trying not to think about what you’re playing defeats the purpose so I made an effort to avoid doing that. Demos can be a bit hit and miss but this one did encourage me to give the full game a chance so I went ahead with the offer to get all five parts of the game for €19.99.
Episode One – A New Day
There were a couple of issues when trying to play; faces would freeze but the dialogue would continue, or a hand would go through the door handle it was supposed to be holding….and Lee’s beard is really annoying, it just doesn’t look right. Still I found this more relaxing than a horror game like Resident Evil where instead of you being required to shoot down what is in front of you and react to everything around you, all you have to do to survive is follow commands displayed on screen. When episode one is over a trailer is displayed for episode two, the contents of this actually would have put me off getting the next episode but I had already gotten them all so that didn’t matter!
Episode Two – Starved For Help
Starting it up I was expecting a “previously on The Walking Dead” scene and I wasn’t disappointed. I almost wish I had played this when it was released periodically as these T.V. style reminders at the start of each episode and teasers at the end were a really nice touch. This episode had a pretty gruesome start to it and all the choices I made this time round seemed to upset people (oops my bad). At some points I didn’t like any of the options I was given, you are allowed choose to stay silent but I wasn’t having any of that, I had to pick one!
Episode Three – Long Road Ahead
Up until now I had been tense or grossed out at different points but this is the first episode that shocked me. The Walking Dead is all about the choices you make and this was the first time I was looking back and thinking if I had done something differently could I have avoided what just happened. Of course you can’t go back, to restart wouldn’t feel right, it would take away any meaning there was in you making choices in the first place. The second half of this episode seemed a bit flat to me, I felt as if the game was really emphasising that this is the point that should make you feel bad, without giving too much away it was actually Kat’s actions that affected me more.
Episode Four – Around Every Corner
A similar scenario to what occurred in episode three happens here where the game tries to emphasise ‘this is where you feel bad’. Once again at the time of playing I felt this was unnecessary but then days later it was this scene that came into my mind when I wasn’t even playing the game. This is also the first episode where I felt alone, at a certain point you are split from your group and left to walk alone while avoiding walkers. Throughout previous episodes you are usually accompanied by someone so I felt noticeably more vulnerable trying to react to the walkers by myself. I think this was the weakest of the episodes, there were some parts that felt to me like fetch quests which didn’t quite fit with how story driven the rest of the game was. However it is also the episode that I really noticed how diverse all the characters are and how well written the game is. There is a great mix of age, weight, gender and race.
By the way was anyone else bored of Clementine at this stage? No? Just me? Ok carry on.
Episode Five – No Time Left
Story wise everything feels hopeless at this stage and boy am I second guessing some of the choices I made. I don’t regret making them but again I find myself wondering if certain parts would have played out differently if I did. This episode threw a lot of surprises at me, some I felt were ridiculous, and others excellent. In the end I was disappointed with how it finished, hoping there would be a different ending, then again it was probably the most apt ending for this type of game.
Looking back I think episode two and the first half of episode three were the best. It was during these that I cared most about the characters and wanted to see what happened. As it progressed I stopped caring about new characters and was just wondering who was going to die next. Upon completion I wondered what I had just played, it felt like I had just spent my time acting out one horrible scenario after the next. During the time I was playing, The Walking Dead never entered my dreams, less than a week after finishing it….zombie dreams. I won’t be reading the comic this game is based on or watching the T.V. show any time soon but The Walking Dead is not easily forgotten, and deserves the recognition it received.