The Walking Dead: Episode 1 Review

The Walking Dead: Episode 1 is bloody, brutal, and hard to put down.

This is not your average Telltale Games adventure. The developer best known for all-ages affairs like the Back to the Future and Tales of Monkey Island franchises has nimbly waded into the guts and gore of the zombie apocalypse with the first episode of its five-part take on The Walking Dead. A New Day is chock-full of all the bursting brains, eaten entrails, and sudden deaths of leading characters that feature prominently in both Robert Kirkman's award-winning comic series and the freewheeling TV show adaptation. Marty McFly might not approve, but you certainly will if you have even the slightest taste for good zombie stories…and a strong stomach to deal with the many gross-out moments.

Luckily, Lee had been laying down some hardwood flooring when the zombie burst into his house.

What makes A New Day so compelling is its attention to appearance, plot, and character development. To help with clarity, the art sheds the black-and-white style of the comics in favor of vibrant color, though it uses similar art to that drawn by Charlie Adlard in the current issues. Fans may yearn for an option to go into a black-and-white mode, but the game art builds nicely on its paper inspiration. The PC and console versions of the game look much the same, although the PC edition is best overall with the smoothest animations. Its 360 counterpart is extremely dark even with the in-game brightness turned up all the way, though the only serious issue is the camera, which is often too close to the action to get a good look at your surroundings. You get a good cinematic view of everything, at least, although this doesn't help much when you're scrounging through the drugstore for goodies or checking out nearby zombies.

The story has been crafted adroitly to weave in and out of the events told in the comics and on TV, blending the new with the familiar. So while you take on the role of the previously unseen Lee Everett, the adventure takes you through parts of rural Georgia also visited by Rick Grimes and the gang. Many of the events here fill out backstories from the comics. You visit Hershel's farm before he started that interesting collection in his barn, for instance, and rescue Glenn when he gets trapped during one of his scavenging runs.

All of the characters are very well written and voiced as individuals (none of the TV actors reprise their roles here, though), which makes you care about whether or not they get munched on by ravenous corpses. It's difficult to get up from the game, so expect to finish it in a two- or three-hour single sitting. Granted, there are some cliches. Lee is a stereotypical man of mystery, with a sinister past that may involve his killing the US senator messing around with his wife. His kid sidekick, Clementine, while lovable and tough in her own right, is obviously a plot device to help tragic Lee find his way again.

And Carley used to think that stray dogs and the odd crack in the road were hazardous during her morning jogs.

Actual gameplay is of a more so-so quality. Although this is a point-and-click adventure, the puzzles are few and far between. Exploration is a must in a couple of places, and there are a few spots where you need to gather items to push the plot forward. Controls are basic. On the PC, you use a mouse-and-WASD combo, occasionally resorting to the number keys to change between the standard looking, taking, talking, and using abilities. Consoles work in a similar fashion, with the left stick moving, the right stick taking care of the point of view, and the four face buttons handling character abilities. Other than the control scheme, there isn't much to figure out. Most of the game deals with interacting with fellow survivors through dialogue.

Conversations typically give you limited time to respond to comments, forcing you to decide whether to blow somebody off or make nice. No selections are absolutely wrong. You can be tough on a coward who ran away instead of helping a friend avoid being chomped, or be kind to a sharpshooting gal in the hope that she might just save your life at some point. Key dialogue choices change how the game plays out, although not in wildly dramatic ways. You make a friend, you make an enemy, somebody notices you telling a lie, that sort of thing. The main difference between choices is the severity of the tone taken by other characters when speaking to you.

Quick-time action sequences bring up more important options. You find yourself a heartbeat away from zombie chompers on more than a few occasions during A New Day. When this happens, you're given a few seconds to either left-click/button-mash a wavering cursor on a zombie skull or hammer some keys/button-mash to fend off the dead guy's groping hands and snapping teeth. Miss this, and you're a juicy burger. Nevertheless, none of this is very challenging, and the mechanics are simplistic enough to draw in casual gaming fans of the Walking Dead comics and TV show.

Shoot him in his brains before he starts munching on yours.

The first surprise attack comes so suddenly that you barely have a chance to react before the teeth sink into your neck, but after that you can cruise through the moments of zombie mayhem, most notably a screwdriver/axe beatdown in a motel courtyard. What's more shocking are the times when you're forced to make the call between saving one friend in peril and giving one up to the hungry dead. These moments are unsettling and very true to the horrific nature of the comics, where beloved, long-running characters can be torn apart without notice.

Telltale's Walking Dead series is off to a great start with A New Day. This is more story than game, so there's little challenge in the hours you spend fleeing and fighting and talking about the zombie hordes. But that approach works here, allowing the game to build upon the cruel, character-driven comic series and stand apart from more mayhem-oriented zombie games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Island. This also lets you get to know the cast in a more intimate manner than would be possible if the episode were all about splattering zombies and solving puzzles. Although given the source material, you still probably shouldn't get too attached to anybody.

The Good
Gripping storyline and first-rate characters and dialogue
Fantastic, stylish artwork
Panicky, crazy action sequences
The Bad
Shallow gameplay
Camera angle is too restrictive in many scenes
8
Great
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Shaun McInnis is a veteran of the zombie apocalypse and Telltale's The Walking Dead ranks as one of his all-time favorites in the genre. He would prefer to pretend that The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct never existed.
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Discussion

48 comments
SpaceGhozt
SpaceGhozt

The people who gamespot gets to review games often miss the point of the game. This was given the "shallow" medal for its game play. It is a point and click... accept it for what it is, gamespot. This is the kind of game you play when you want to sit back, relax, and watch an absolutely phenomenal story unfold infront of you. imo, their should be more games like this one. It's more of an interactive piece of fiction than a game so who cares about the game play.

DeadlyMustard
DeadlyMustard

This easily has the best story in any game that has come out in the past couple years.

Kaifa1974
Kaifa1974

Really an original and creative game. Great atmosphere, paced and always intense

kapa89
kapa89

I played the demo and i LOVED it!...It has good creepy atmosphere and the gameplay has many similarities with HEAVY RAIN

SolidTy
SolidTy

I got into this series incidentally because of PS+ gave them away. I got Episodes 1 & 2 gratis.

I would recommend to fans of the comic or TV show.

 

TellTale games have a certain style to their games, I hope people give it a chance. :)

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

This reviewer...Christ. 

It's an episodic game, idiot. It doesn't focus on gameplay so much on the story. Maybe you're too used to playing Call of Duty or Halo, but this is a game that actually features a STORYLINE. What a concept.

japanesegoth
japanesegoth

downloading the demo now! hope it's good.

Doobsac
Doobsac

Where the hell is episode 2? They are already a month late and they can't even post a release date? I like the game but this is just pathetic on Tell Tale games part.

lilmac190
lilmac190

love dis game jus got the full game on xbox

dipdish
dipdish

I just played the demo, and loved it.

iocasiones
iocasiones

I enjoyed the game and looking forward to episode 2. When i reflect on this game i feel i watched an episode of walking dead. That's how good this game is. The character development is great and you can feel the attachment to the character

rhollingsworth
rhollingsworth

I am a big fan of the tv show and comics.  The game here is actually better than the tv show as you actually get a sense of the real chaos going around and the fact that you have to think very fast on your feet at many times.   Sure, as far as a "game" goes, it lacks your typical trigger happy first person or even wide open action of a 3rd person sandbox game.  

 

However, this is basically a game that tries to tell the story of the comic book through an interactive environment.   To me it feels like you are a part of the tv show/comic but you get to determine how to treat people, who to save, who to be nice with, who to be nasty with, etc.

 

It is an adventure game, so many younger generation really have no concept of what an adventure game is.   Limited action, focus on story and character.  In character development and story, i have to give it 10.   Gameplay itself is probably only a 6.

 

But over all i would give it a 9 because it delivers more than what i was expecting in a 25 dollar title.

 

Looking forward to episode 2.  

SPUDIRL3
SPUDIRL3

Really enjoyed this. Cant wait for the next episodes. Just wish they lasted longer, which in a way, is a good thing!

xRownan
xRownan

I'm a huge fan of the series and cannot wait to get back to the states so I can play it.

dg3215
dg3215

I hope the next episode? is out soon.

 

hwrdstrnsbals
hwrdstrnsbals

no comment on game- only comment on gamers.   The review says its a great game.  it also says "shallow" gameplay.  to me, thats a contradiction.  why not just watch a damn movie if all that matters is plot and characters.  is this what gamers want.  more and more story--- less and less gameplay.  wtf?

3v1LR0n1N
3v1LR0n1N

from beginning to end this was a great game i look forward to the rest

SoreThumbsBill
SoreThumbsBill

I wasn't expecting much but I really enjoyed played TWD! There was a lot of tension fighting for survival in a zombie apocalypse and I can't wait for the second episode to come out.

 

Another great horror game is the indie Lone Survivor.  If you love suspense in your games go check it out.

smoothyplum26
smoothyplum26

I'm thinking of buying this now but does anyone have any idea on when the next episodes will be coming out?

undeadgamer183
undeadgamer183

A very good game in a unique way.Can't wait for episode 2.

wookwook5
wookwook5

I love this game i actually gave it a 9 but it still has a good review... I actually played through the first episode twice with two different stories lol and I was surprised by what happened each time. I encourage anyone with any curiosity of whether to play it or not to definitely try it.

Shawn45
Shawn45

I didn't buy this because Jurassic Park was only ok, and definitely not worth the 30 dollars I paid to purchase it. From what I am hearing, this one is a LOT better in almost every way, but I am still hesitant to buy it.

7h3_h4x3r
7h3_h4x3r

I rather wait till all episodes are out

 

UltraredM
UltraredM

Am I the only one who thinks $5 for 3-4 hours in a great deal? I mean, people pay $60 for games that have less than 15 hours of unique content and are satisfied with that, so, by extension, people who are even remotely interested in good zombie stories should be lining up to buy the episodes of the this game. I know I am.

bonesawisready5
bonesawisready5

I really enjoyed the first episode. I'm tempted to wait and buy all at once later this year though because I hate having to hang from a cliff so to speak on the plot. 

 

I wish it was a little bit longer, as some "chapters" were comically short. If it could hit 5-6 hours per episode that would be great.

Hellraz3r_v2
Hellraz3r_v2

This has to be the best Arcade game I've played yet!

azanet
azanet

niceeeeeee good game

 

gmoya909
gmoya909

cant wait for second episode!

Daavpuke
Daavpuke

I'm not quite convinced the score reflects the review, but it is still a decent title. I wish it offered slightly more as a game, but these episodic Telltale features are usually really short. It did a better job than with BTTF (imo); the choice element and extremely well crafted narrative are really gripping. (also, slight editorial error in paragraph 6 you might want to correct)

valdarez
valdarez

Think this is the first time I've seen a game with the Shallow Gameplay award receive an 8+ on Gamespot.

4quarters
4quarters

This is more than point n click, you actually have full movement in the environments like any 3rd person game, just the right joystick controls your head to look for key points. it plays like watching an episode of the show, very impressive and ....gory as hell.

TrueGB
TrueGB

I love a good story, but I just can't get into these games that aren't really games so much as they are interactive books/movies.

fin
fin

"The Walking Dead is a digital-only game on the award winning comic series by Robert Kirkman." Yeah, most games are digital.

cain006
cain006

 @Bayonetta2013 It's a video game. If the gameplay is bad, then it should be brought up. Just because its main focus is the storyline doesn't mean that's all that matters.

Purpledust
Purpledust

 @hwrdstrnsbals I think "shallow" gameplay was an ok comment. and it's not a contradiction. Not every game should be based on the same model, give you the same mechanics. I tried the demo for this game. It felt a bit weird to me. But it was really different from any game I've played on the xbox or in my life, really. I can;t say If I liked it. That's just me. Even tho the Reviewer, who is also a player, felt the gameplay as shallow; It seems the Reviewer liked it enough to give it a 8 ( or "great game medal"). Shallow Gameplay, but still a great game; impossible to you? Maybe it's not a game for you. Not sure yet? Try the demo and decide for yourself. A book can be a great book even if you dislike every name in it, you just have to read pass them. As if you don't mind the mistakes of language in this message, you can read pass them.

is it pass or past anyway?

words

hwrdstrnsbals
hwrdstrnsbals

 @wookwook5 yeppers.  any review that matches your view is always a good review.  how could it not be?

wookwook5
wookwook5

 @Shawn45 its worth every penny no lie great game im still astonished that it was made by Telltale thats how good it is.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

 @cain006 Yes, but games don't need fabulous gameplay. The Walking Dead's was fine; some rapid button-smashing and interactive gameplay to get you to know your surroundings, and I was happy. Besides, half the "gameplay" is choosing your dialogue, and that's what determines whose side your on for the entirety of the game, and you're calling that "bad"?

dg3215
dg3215

 @UltraredM

 I agree.  I just hope once all the parts are out they don't sell it as a package for $10 then there will be many people upset.

 

cain006
cain006

 @Bayonetta2013 I don't think it's fine, I thought it was pretty boring. I also thought the game was too slow paced. Maybe you're forgetting that a review is made by one person and it's their opinion.

The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series More Info

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    The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series is a zombie game that lets players experience the true horror and emotional impact of being a survivor of the undead apocalypse.
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