A New Day

With an abundance of zombie games in recent years, it’s not an easy thing to differentiate yourself from the mindless crowd when a new one is announced. But when you have one of the most popular comic book and TV series of the past few years as the basis for your game, that alone will turn a few eyeballs your way. Combine that hit franchise then with the unique perspective that only a developer like Telltale Games can give and suddenly your shambling ahead of the rest of the crowd.

The Walking Dead: Episode 1 does just that. Instead of focusing on action and how many NPCs can be fit on screen at once, The Walking Dead: Episode 1 revolves around problem solving, character development, and difficult choices. And zombies. This first episode takes place about a month before the comic starts, at the very beginning of the outbreak, and you play as Lee, a felon being transported to the county jail when the zombie apocalypse hits. After the cop car wrecks itself against a zombie shambling in the middle of the road, you find yourself free from the backseat and trying to survive this brand new world before you, where the dead walk amongst the living.

What impressed me the most was that because you’re not running around collecting tons of crazy guns and ammo and blasting everything that moves, but instead must point and click on key interactive items in the world to progress the story, those few instances, where you have to do the correct button prompts when you actually do square off against a zombie, are some of the most pulse-pounding, tension filled moments you’ll get in a zombie game. Include the need to win people over by building relationships with other survivors as you explore different areas of the world and you have enough action/adventure and RPG elements that should whet the appetite of people aren’t used to this genre of game, but are fans of the franchise or at least just zombie horror.

Another small aspect that I loved was that at the end of the episode it tells you what the five most major decisions were and how other people who have played the game reacted to the same situation. And they are truly major as some people’s lives literally hang in the balance. Throw in some The Walking Dead cameos by fan-favorites like Glenn and fans of the comic should be hooked.

The only real drawback for The Walking Dead: Episode 1 is that the episode lacks immediate replay value until you collect the entire series as the decisions you make here will carry over down the line into the next episode and beyond. And because of that, the waiting may just be unbearable for some. The cel-shaded graphics may also turn off some folks who prefer more realistic tones to their rotting flesh. All in all though, if you love The Walking Dead, zombie games, or other point and click adventure from Telltale, this game is more than worth the price of admission.

SUMMARY: Fans of The Walking Dead comic book or TV show will love the character development and attention to detail this first episode takes. The only downside is a lack of replay value and the waiting for Episode 2.

  • THE GOOD: Serious ramifications for nearly every decision you make
  • THE BAD: Lack of instant replay value, waiting for Episode 2
  • THE UGLY:  No matter how cel-shaded you make them, zombies are never not ugly

SCORE: 9.0

The Walking Dead: Episode 1 is available on XBLA (Xbox 360), PSN (PS3), PC and iOS. Primary version reviewed was on XBLA.