Tense survival-driven story; compelling cast of characters; appealing graphic novel art style; well written dialogue with great voice acting; player decisions have tangible effects on the story.
Technical hiccups with cutscenes and audio quality; a few weak and misplaced puzzles; very short, even by episodic standards.
4.5 stars: "A superb game that excels in just about every area, held back only by one or two notable flaws or a collection of smaller ones that prevent the game from earning full marks."
The Walking Dead may have more gore than puzzles, but by striking out in a new direction that focuses on atmospheric storytelling, Telltale delivers one their most compelling and enjoyable titles to date.
You’ll meet a varied cast of fellow survivors along the way, including Carley, a confident and composed news reporter who knows how to wield a gun, a family with a young boy about Clementine's age, and an ex-army commander named Larry, whose aggression coupled with his overwhelming drive to protect his adult daughter causes continual conflicts, at times even to his own physical detriment. Each character plays a vital role in the team dynamic, resulting in you feeling both dependent on others and responsible for ensuring their survival. Like any group of strangers thrust together in extraordinarily dangerous circumstances, some individuals in your party will accommodate and assist where possible, while others seemingly persist only to make survival ever more challenging, whether by needing to risk your life to acquire pills for Larry’s heart condition or forcing you to take sides in disputes about whether to kill a potentially infected companion or not.
Right from the start, Telltale has done a fantastic job of imbuing the main characters with compelling personalities. Each is portrayed with what feels like genuine emotion; they're vastly different individuals with their own pain, their own backgrounds, their own motivations (not all of which are known at this point, even for Lee), now reluctantly banded together in a fight for survival, needing each other but lacking in trust . A great example comes when Lee is uncomfortably questioned about his relationship with Clementine, followed by the little girl herself being questioned in front of you to back up your claims and counter any concerns that you're coercing her against her will. You'll feel a genuine desire to prove yourself and build trust in the individuals around you (at least I did; maybe you won't, and can respond accordingly if that's the case), and the game doesn’t sidestep such awkward and repulsive accusations.
It’s this tenuously balanced team dynamic and brief glimpses into interesting personal backstories that propel the story forward. Where the majority of zombie tales place the focus on fighting the undead, the real intrigue demonstrated here comes from the trials people face when confronted by horror and despair. By the close of the first episode, little is known about the cause of the apocalypse nor where the journey will take us, but already I feel a real affinity for the entire cast of characters in their desperate struggle to survive. This is far more valuable in making me want to come back to continue discovering more, even (or perhaps especially) knowing that no character is ever truly safe in The Walking Dead. Attachments now may very well mean heartache later, but I'm all in for the duration.
The only real goal here is a journey to find safety, which means traveling to various locations such as a farm that grants temporary shelter to a fortified drug store in Lee's hometown of Macon, with a dangerous side trip to a motel for fuel. Doing so means participating far more of an interactive movie than your traditional puzzle-heavy adventure. A New Day has very few puzzles, mainly involving exploring the environment to find an item to break a lock or keys to open a door. While some will surely lament the lack of challenge, largely limiting the puzzles to those that organically fit the story maintains the atmospheric immersion, a point further emphasized by the odd misplaced puzzle that feels forced in. One of the poorer examples has you helping an otherwise intelligent, competent individual struggling to work a radio without even checking if it has batteries.
The game’s art style is reminiscent of the series' comic roots, its 3D models having painted textures and rough edges. Although not done in black-and-white, this animated graphic novel-style will feel instantly familiar to Walking Dead fans. It’s a fantastic look that stands apart from the adventure crowd and allows for a surprisingly high level of detail. This is particularly evident in the character models, each of which is distinctively unique and wonderfully expressive, especially during conversations. There are some blemishes, however, such as poor lip syncing and noticeable frame drops during cutscenes.
There are also some problems with the sound quality, which can result in choppy dialogue, occasional popping and even clear differences in volume levels from one line to the next. This is a shame, as the voice acting itself is strong, with believable accents and solid acting all around. Lee is entirely believable as the strong, silent type, a clearly troubled soul who's most comfortable in his usually gruff reserve, but ready to aggressively engage or compassionately defend others when necessary. Clementine, on the other hand, beautifully portrays the innocence and (perhaps misguided) trust of childhood brilliantly, able to see the good in Lee and remarkably brave given the dire situation. Thankfully, the audio issues don't seem to plague the music, which is suitably sparse and subtle, remaining largely in the background but aiding the atmosphere at all the right moments of tension and action.
Overall, The Walking Dead is off to a fantastic start with an engaging survival premise and some of the best character building I’ve seen in an adventure game for some time. It's a little short in a single playthrough, even by episodic standards, but by the time the first episode comes to a close around the two-hour mark, you’ll be well and truly hooked by this horrific world, then left with a cliffhanger that’ll have you eagerly awaiting the next instalment. At the end you’ll be shown the key choices you made throughout the episode, along with the percentage of players who made the same decision. This is a nice touch to demonstrate the varied paths the story can take, and how in line with others your choices were. And if you don't like your decisions after the fact, or simply want to try out alternate paths, the game is easily good enough to play right through again from the start. This is Telltale like we've never seen them before, but they've created an adventure you can easily become invested in, and I personally cannot wait to see how the tale unfolds further next month.
|Download||April 23 2012||Telltale Games|
Posted by jannar85 on Jun 11, 2012
Love it!It's like playing the comic / tv show, refreshing take on the license!... Read the review »
Posted by Lucien21 on May 27, 2012
Too short and too easyI'm a big fan of the comic book series, it's one of the best ongoing comics in recent years and it is known for it's shock value and nobody... Read the review »