The game begins with good and bad news - you play as a black man going to jail. Damnit!! lol. I was pleasantly surprised to see an African American man as the protagonist, but it came with a price. This brother was on his way to the slammer for committing a murder. Seconds into the game and he's already being stereotyped. Son of a biscuit!!
But anyway, the lead character's name is Lee Everett and the zombie apocalypse suddenly hits as he's being transported to the pen. Lee finds his way to a nearby house and is rescued by an 8 year-old girl named Clementine. Your primary purpose is to protect Clem and survive at all costs.
I was expecting The Walking Dead to be a "shoot em' up" zombies game like Resident Evil. But I should have known better. This game captured the beautiful storytelling techniques of The Walking Dead. As in the show and the comic books, the zombies are always a threat but the real danger is other human beings and the tough choices you have to make for survival.
What immediately got me hooked was the fact that you control what Lee says or does. The picture down below is a great example.
Whether you're honest or dishonest, whether you're aggressive or calm, etc, other characters will respond in different ways. Some choices you make in the game will result in the life and death of different characters. Because of this, you can play the game four different times and have four different storylines.
I'll give another example without spoiling too much. At one point, a character in your group will murder another in cold blood. You can abandon the murderous character in the woods, (leaving him/her at the fate of the zombies) or take him/her with you. Because I was curious of what would happen, I let the murderer stay with us. And you know what happened next? The murderer stole our RV from us. We suddenly had no transportation and everyone was mad at me! lol.
True to The Walking Dead, a lot of people close to you will die, quickly and unexpectedly. Because of this you'll find yourself in different groups and locations along the way. People in your groups will die but you'll come across other survivors, both good and bad. Also, it's hard to find a safe haven to relax in and call home. No place is 100% safe during a zombie apocalypse.
The tie-ins to the TV show and comics are nicely done. First, you meet Hershel Greene. Yep, the same Hershel Greene who first appeared in Season 2 of the television show and fixed up Carl's gunshot wound. You spend a little time on Hershel's farm. (Unfortunately, Scott Wilson does not voice Hershel. The Hershel on this game looks more like his comic book adaptation).
Later you run into Glenn Rhee. Yep, the same Glenn who rescued Rick from the tank in Season 1 and constantly banged Hershel's daughter, Maggie, in the prison during Season 3. Glenn will be part of your group for a while but not for too long. Sad, because his speed and bravery will be a great asset to you while he's around. I don't wanna spoil his reasons for leaving but after his time with you, he goes to Atlanta and meets up with Shane, Lori, Dale, Daryl, etc. Seeing as to how Glenn had yet to go to Atlanta and Hershel was still a naive and un-trusting jerk, the first episode of the game obviously takes place a few weeks before Rick Grimes wakes up from his coma.
I have to applaud the character development in this game. Clem constantly looks up to you and has a way of making you warm up to her no matter how much of a hard ass you think you might be. When she compliments you and looks up at you with those big brown eyes, how can you be mean to her?
There are other characters you'll find yourself getting attached to as well. Even though it's just a game, I personally cared about each and every member of our group as the episodes progressed. If you make certain choices, everyone will look to Lee as their leader. If that happens, you're not responsible for just yourself and Clem, but everyone in your group. When you come across other survivors, will you invite them to join you or not take any unnecessary chances with strangers? Your morality and maturity will always come into question. Other examples....
*There is a racist man in your group at one point named Larry. Larry makes things difficult for you. You have a variety of options of how to respond to him. What do you do?
*If your best friend's child is bitten by a zombie and about to turn, do you put him down yourself or make your friend do it?
*At one point a crazy woman with a crossbow threatens to shoot off your balls and string em' up in a tree. Do you talk her down or just kill her? (Obvious answer, here).
*If you kill another human being in front of Clem and she asks you about it, are you going to be upfront with her or sugarcoat things?
*Do you feel safe at your current camp site or do you decide to move on?
There are so many decisions to make and you have to make them quick. The decisions are game-altering and for some characters, life-altering.
A.J.'s Final Word
***** 5 Stars out of 5
July 2014 Update: Now that I've played the game twice since blogging this, I caught several things I didn't catch the first time. For one, the character I called racist may or may not have been. Secondly, little Clementine is African American! Damned if she doesn't look Korean!!! Here is a picture of her parents.