Telltale had a historic year in 2012 with the success of the story-driven episodic game based on The Walking Dead graphic novel. Released over seven months, the five episodes were available across most gaming platforms (except Nintendo consoles) . Warmly received by fans and critics alike, leaving everyone wanting more. With Season 2 in development, Telltale released a single piece of downloadable content, 400 Days to satisfy those that wanted more content. The PlayStation Vita missed out on the initial release of the game, but Telltale has recently released the entire Season 1 in one complete package.
Being released so long after the final episode released last November, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t already played through the game. As a commuter, I have over an hour train ride in and out of New York City five days a week, which provides plenty of uninterrupted game time. Since I missed playing through DLC when it was first released, I was delighted to experience the heart aches and emotional narrative once more.
Seeing Lee handcuffed in the police car driving down the highway on a bright and sunny day in Georgia before all hell broke loose once again was a pleasure. I was prepared for all the surprises the game throws at you, but this time my decisions were different from my first playthrough. This time, I went into the game knowing I wouldn’t like who Lee would become. Unlike previous games of the same genre, The Walking Dead focuses on character development and making difficult decisions, instead of solving puzzles. Characters remember choices you made or things you did or didn’t do. Everything carries over when you finish an episode, so if someone died in Episode One, expect to not see them when you continue playing Episode Two. Of course, you could skip to later episodes and have the game predetermine the previous choices, but that defeats the whole purpose of episodic gameplay. As you progress, decisions become harder to make. Always pressuring the player, Telltale uses a timed system forcing players to think quickly, relying on instincts, leading to poor choices to be occasional made.
Only briefing touching upon the narrative, so not to spoil anything, the game follows a group of survivors struggling against the undead, other survivors and each other. Feel free to read my previous reviews of each episode. As a Vita title, I expected to find a new control scheme utilizing the touch controls. I was delighted Telltale didn’t force it upon the player, giving the option to use traditional controls if you desire. I found a middle ground to work the best, using the touch screen for on-screen prompts, such as targeting zombies or picking up objects, while using analog control to move around the environment.
If you are one of the few that haven’t played through The Waking Dead and own a Vita, this is an easy choice to make. Releasing well after the initial release, you don’t have to wait to play the next episode. While the stuttering during transitions is a setback, it shouldn’t deter you from experiencing 2012’s Game of the Year. For those like myself that have already played through the title, playing for a second or third time with different choices, changes your outlook completely on the characters.Note: The Walking Dead: The Game (Season 1) was reviewed on PlayStation Vita. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.