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Dialog of The Walking Dead: Episode 1

Normally, our reviews follow a traditional format, offering a single critic’s analysis of a game. With The Walking Dead: Episode 1: A New Day, the format felt forced. Not only does the game present players with a number of choices which have the potential to create a varying experience, but the title represents only the first installment in a larger series. What follows is a conversation between Robert “DesertEagle” Allen and Sean “SeanNOLA” Kirkland about their experiences with the inaugural installment.

DesertEagle: I’ll admit it- although I enjoyed Robert Kirkman’s comics, I lost interest after the midway through the first season of AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead due to a storyline that moved slower than a double-amputee crawler. Coupled with a general dislike for adventure games, I was initially apathetic toward Telltale Games’ acquisition of the property. Yet, after playing through the first episode, A New Day, I have to praise the studio. The installment is more about delivering an interactive, cinematic experience than sending players scouring for the individual pieces to activate Rube Goldberg-like device.

SeanNOLA: If you want to talk about Kirkman books that are more deserving of a TV adaptation than The Walking Dead, check out Super Dinosaur. Then again, you know how I feel about the undead; the mere mention of zombies makes me tired and agitated. I don’t really want to pass judgement on The Walking Dead game after just one episode, especially since Telltale has a tendency to run out of narrative gas halfway through a season, but I have to say that this is the best first episode they’ve ever put out. They definitely have me begging for Episode 2. What did you think about the interface?

DesertEagle: Using the left analog stick to move the protagonist around, while using the right stick to highlight objects usually felt instinctive. Of course, in those heated moments where a walker was about to make a buffet out of somebody’s brains, scanning the screen for an obscured pip point with the right stick while simultaneously pressing the “X” button felt clumsy. I’m assuming that Telltale was trying to convey the frantic anxiety of being attacked by a reanimated corpse. Speaking of quick reactions, what did you feel about having a limited time to deliver conversational responses?

SeanNOLA: I loved it in Alpha Protocol, and I think The Walking Dead does an even better job with it. Unlike AP, which gave you a limited time to essentially choose “good” “bad” or “aggressive” before automatically picking whatever choice you made the last time, Lee’s choices are always equally muddy. I like how the“good guy” choice wasn’t always mapped to the same button, so I really had to weigh all my options before committing. My only complaint is that sometimes I felt like I had too much time to make a decision, which took away some of the realistic conversational flow that Alpha Protocol had, but for the most part it seemed to be timed out properly. I think the concept of picking from a variety of different choices really fit well into this story too. Lee Everett isn’t really a hero or even your typical anti-hero – he’s just a dude who’s made some questionable decisions. I appreciated the choices that let me roleplay as that character rather than just trying to pick the option that gives me the most paragon points.

DesertEagle: I also appreciate how silence is always an option for Everett as well as how key decisions will telegraph (strategically ambiguous)on-screen messages much as “Hershel noted Lee’s reaction”. The Walking Dead’s true litmus test will be if these choices radically influence the series’ outcome, or just offer a Mass Effect-like rouse where decisions don’t carry much weight into the series’ finale.

I want to get your thoughts on the title’s aesthetics. I think Telltale put forth a virtuous effort considering the studio didn’t have the triple-A sized budget. I liked the game’s cell-shaded world and thought the characters articulated an impressive amount of emotion through a combination facial expression and solid voice acting. You?

SeanNOLA: I think it looks great! The cel shading captures the style of the comics without being too heavy-handed like XIII or Jet Set Radio. It was easy to look past the gimmick and getr lost in the picture. Telltale definitely has a cartoony animation style, which still comes through in some of the more exaggerated gestures, but they clearly showed a lot of restraint, and it paid off in a big way. As for the choices making a difference, there was already one choice (which I won’t spoil for the readers’ sake) that seemed to have a pretty major immediate impact on the story. I’ve only played through the episode once (I don’t think I’ll replay until the entire season is over) but I’ll be interested to see how that one choice changes your trajectory.

I ran into a few irritating bugs, for example when I tried to finish a puzzle out of sequence, I ended up being unable to finish that puzzle. The errors were never so bad as to discourage me from finishing, and weren’t as prevalent as the game-destroying bugs found all over Back to the Future. All-in-all, I thought it was a great experience. Like I said before, I’m a little wary, given Telltale’s track record of boring me to death after episode 3, but they never really hit the nail on the head as hard as they have with The Walking Dead, so I’m hopeful.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

27 comments

  1. Legendary Lance

    Now this was unexpected. Not only the format, but that you guys didn’t argue.

    • Are you guys going to use this format for the whole series? I like it and would like to hear more from you two.

      • I don’t think so. We might do a review of the series as a whole once Episode 5 comes out, but writing up an article for each episode would take a lot of punch away for the readers.
        If the wheels fall off the wagon mid-season, I’m sure you’ll hear me complain about it on the podcast.

        • I’ll a little disappointing then. When you called it episode 1, I meant you were going to have a conversation for each installment.

          I vote for more.

  2. I like the dialog. But it seems like it’s more for people who already played the game. It would be even better if you brought in one of the guys from Telltale in and ask him questions about the game as well.

  3. Wow, you guys way overrated it.

    To me The Walking Dead was a huge bore. No real puzzles, weak combat, and way too much talk. I mean 95% of the game was conversations and walking around talking to other people. It wasn’t scary or fun.

  4. So far I’m like an hour in.

    One question for anyone. How do you use the radio? I love the pointer over it, but it doesn’t work. Its just sitting there on the left side of the screen.

    What’s up with no tutorial, Telltale?

    • The panel on the left-hand-side of the screen shows your inventory. The inventory items are case sensitive. When you come across a point where the radio is useful, it will show up on your cursor.

      As for a tutorial, the first 10 minutes of the game walk you through every mechanic, from navigating to interacting with inventory items – I didn’t really think it needed to explain anything after that.

  5. This is the first time anyone has praised Alpha Protocol, I thinks. I never played the game buy every review, podcast, and amateur 2-bit forum poster said it was a huge stinking pile of dino doodoo.

    • If you go back and listen to the podcasts that came out around the time Alpha Protocol released, you’ll hear me gushing about it. I loved Alpha Protocol. Most people got upset because shooting accuracy was stat-based, like Fallout 3, but I thought the story, tone and characters were top-notch, and frankly, standard shooter mechanics would have broken the game. If you’re the type that didn’t like the shooting in Fallout, then you can just play the game as a stealth action game (which is more fun anyway, in my opinion).
      If you’ve never played AP, it’s worth a look. It’s like $5 now, so you can’t really go wrong there.

      • The only problem I had was with the enemies and glitchy code. The game had more bugs that a $600 a month Brooklyn apartment.

  6. I have no use for a woman that can’t operate a simple radio or even look for batteries. Why Telltale, WHY?

    • *THIS POST KINDA HAS A MINOR SPOILER*

      [spoiler]That’s the puzzle that I found the bug on.
      I gave her the batteries, then I tried to use the remote. Basically, the game just logged that the last thing I tried didn’t work, but I didn’t have the batteries anymore (since I had already given them to her), so the puzzle was unsolvable. Had to start from my last autosave (which was luckily right before I gave her the battery).[/spoiler]

  7. I liked it better than both Jurassic Park and Back to the Future. Telltale’s best game, if you ask me.

  8. “I lost interest after the midway through the first season of AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead due to a storyline that moved slower than a double-amputee crawler.”

    What do you have ADHD, Desert? Great show. One of TV’s best.

  9. PowerPoint Ranger

    @SeanNOLA Where’s my snarkasaurus been hiding? I haven’t heard you in the podcast in like, months. Thanks for the pro-tip on Super Dinosaur.

    @Des Glad to hear you liked it, especially since you don’t really like adventure games. Why is that?

    • Where have you been, Sean? We haven’t heard much from you.

      • Work and family have been keeping me away from gaming lately. Things are starting to slow down a bit, but it seems like every time I say that, something breaks half-way around the world, and I have to drop everything to go and fix it.
        We’re recording a show tonight. I’ll be on this time.

        • Vita talk please!

          Oh, and tell Deagle to shut up every time he mentions a NIS game. Haha!

        • Well, I hope everything is ok for you now. I sure know that family issues can be difficult.

          Anyway looking forward to the next podcast.

  10. The graphics are really good. I actually like the zombies here better than the (older) RE games. They didn’t cut back on the gore or language either.

  11. I really liked Lee, the main character. Seemed more like an average guy that the superman of most games. Maybe thats why I related to him more.

  12. Great article guys. I hadn’t really considered picking up the game until reading this as I haven’t read the comic or seen the series.

  13. I really enjoyed this interview. As for the game, I’m gonna play the demo 🙂 I’m so over the show lol

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