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The Walking Dead Episode One: A New Day
The Walking Dead Episode One: A New Day

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: Telltale Games Official Site: http://www.telltalegames.com...
Classification: ???
Release Date:
25th April 2012
The Walking Dead Episode One: A New Day

Genre: Action
Developer: Telltale Games
Official Site: http://www.telltalega...
Classification: ???
Release Date:
25th April 2012
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The Walking Dead Episode One: A New Day Review
Review By @ 09:25am 30/04/12
PC
Telltale’s problem has always been that they nail the writing and tone of the IP they’re given to work on, while never quite mastering the adventure genre they frame their action through. The puzzles in their games are rarely as sharp as you’d like them to be, and the recent Jurassic Park game was a messy affair of QTEs and disappointment. The Walking Dead’s first episode, ‘A New Day’, succeeds where some of their past adventures have failed not by fixing the issues that often hold their games back, but by placing a greater importance on the presentation and character work that the team handles best.

Set within the universe of Robert Kirkman’s acclaimed comic series rather than AMC’s decent but meandering TV series (complete with awesome comic-esque cel-shaded graphics), A New Day kicks off very shortly after the zombie outbreak begins. The exact time-frame is poorly detailed, in that within minutes of first encountering zombies you’ll find yourself surrounded by characters already well acquainted with the logistics of the outbreak, but that’s not hugely important.



Protagonist Lee Everett is on his way to prison when the game begins, having been charged with the murder of a US senator who was sleeping with his wife. This being the first episode, we never find out exactly what happened, but thanks to the game’s RPG-esque dialog choice system, you’ll come away from this first episode with some ideas on what kind of man the Lee in your game is.
Right near the beginning you’ll encounter Clementine, an adorable little girl who has been living alone in her treehouse for some time now, with her parents interstate (presumed dead) and her carer now reanimated. Clementine is, naturally enough, the game’s heart, and she’s written more genuinely than any of the kids in the books are. In fact, the writing is great across the board. You’ll stumble across a few characters from the series, but most of them are brand new creations who fit into the established universe seamlessly, and who are genuinely interesting to talk to.

There’s one absurdly bad line of dialog at the midway point that threatens to unhinge the whole thing (hint if you’re on the lookout: it’s about batteries), but the tone is spot-on. Each character is searching for reasons to endure the hardships ahead, and the comic’s depiction of the inevitable collapse of human decency is hinted at well in these early days of the outbreak.

The Walking Dead hinges on the aforementioned dialog choices. You’ll be informed of the reactions to the people around you to the things you say; a character might call you on a lie you’ve told, appreciate your compassion towards another person, or chastise you for making a choice they don’t agree with. You can even choose to stay silent in most conversations if you have no response, and deal with the potential fallout of not being forthcoming. You’re asked to make several decisions over the course of the episode, ranging from minor conversation choices to choosing who to save when two people are being attacked simultaneously. I spotted one moment of inconsistency – a character referring to Lee as Clementine’s father when he’d been told he wasn’t – but for the most part the system works well. It’s a shame, really, that The Walking Dead has been split into five parts when your choices so obviously carry through, and the system is so effective that we’re now desperate to see how things pan out.



The puzzles and action sequences are, mechanically, nothing to write home about, but Telltale has effectively marginalised their importance. Adventure games are rarely tense, but the game’s sense of consequence means that your every move takes on a heightened significance, despite how easy the game is. Every now and again a zombie will get up in your face and you’ll need to fight them off, which is as simple as hammering the Q button or clicking away at their faces, but your investment in the characters makes each perilous scenario exciting.

The game is, unfortunately, a little glitchy. Sound doesn’t always cut in at the right point, cut-scenes can stall, and I had the game freeze on me once near the start (I’ve heard reports of it happening at other points too). Nothing too serious, but I hope future episodes are a little more stable.

It’s all over in about two hours, making A New Day short even by Telltale standards. Still, we should end up with a ten-odd hour adventure for about the same price as a thin volume of the comics, and so far it’s just as compelling as Kirkman’s work. If the rest of the episodes fulfil the promises of the first one, this will be Telltale’s best series yet.
What we liked
  • Genuinely great writing, characters and voice acting
  • Plenty of nods for comic fans
  • The choice system and decision tracking is excellent
  • Fantastic graphics
  • Surprisingly thrilling and tense
What we didn't like
  • Genre purists won’t get the puzzles they’re after
  • Occasional audio glitches
  • Script inconsistencies
  • It crashed on us once, and has crashed on others
  • There’s one really grating line of dialog (see if you can pick it!)
More
We gave it:
8.2
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Soapy
Posted 10:55am 30/4/12
Being a huge zombie fan and owning just about every zombie game (dead island being one my faves) I was hesitant to try this game, my Dad had already bought it but I'm still sitting on the fence.

After reading this review it's won me over.

NB: I didn't even know this was a comic strip, when I saw the trailer I was looking for the tv show characters.
reload!
Posted 11:28am 30/4/12
haha because if it was based on the tv series it would suck more d*** than a hooker at a truck stop
Zapo
Posted 11:29am 30/4/12
I played it for about half an hour last night. It's pretty good, and for $25 or so well worth it so far.
ravn0s
Posted 11:42am 30/4/12
i'm surprised it's getting such good reviews. i was expecting it to be s***.
Jickle
Posted 12:10pm 30/4/12
ravn0s - so was I, to be honest. Very pleasant surprise!
Dazhel
Posted 11:48pm 30/4/12
Yeah this is surprisingly not bad.
Telltale are a bit hit and miss. Poker Night at the Inventory was a bit glitchy but worthwhile. I wasn't quite taken by the BTTF series despite being a fan of the movies and wanting to see it succeed. Jurassic Park got quite poor reviews so I skipped it, but Walking Dead's hooked me.

It was somewhat stuttery in places like the review said but I didn't get a crash so that's a bonus I guess. I'm not sure which specific line of dialog was the absurdly bad one, but the entire battery puzzle itself did feel awkwardly forced and a bit daft.

I would sorta classify this as less 'game' and more 'interactive comic', but not in a demeaning way at all.
I'm liking the Mass Effect Lite approach they've taken where your choices get recorded in the save file.
It was short, but there's some hard choices that seem to have a large effect on the game so I reckon that might give it enough replayability to stretch the 10 hours into maybe 15-20.

Looking forward to episode 2!
Timmeh
Posted 11:50pm 30/4/12
haha because if it was based on the tv series it would suck more d*** than a hooker at a truck stop

choke more then a hooker in the valley.
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