Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TellTale defines a new genre with The Walking Dead

There’s a lot of praise for Telltale’s recently released The Walking Dead game. Some call it Telltale’s best effort yet. After playing through multiple times to see how the game can diverge, I’m confident enough to agree with others and add my own claim that The Walking Dead is the first in a new hybrid genre, the Role-Playing Adventure Game.

The Walking Dead plays like a contemporary point-and-click adventure game. By that, I mean you won’t find puzzles solved by using totally unrelated items together. In fact, calling them puzzles at all doesn’t seem appropriate as they follow a more logical solution. They’re more like environmental challenges. For example, in order retrieve keys to a pharmacy backroom, you must find a way to distract zombies long enough for you to run across a street and take them off a corpse. A nearby brick thrown into a storefront's glass makes enough commotion for you to grab the keys and head back to safety.

The role-playing aspect comes into play when talking with other characters. You play as Lee Garnett, a recently convicted felon on his way to prison as zombie apocalypse starts. Thankfully, the paddy wagon you’re riding in crashes and you escape. Keeping your past a secret is vital, one character explains. Being truthful and honest about what happened could lead to others not trusting you; after all, you are a convicted felon. On the other side, keeping the truth from others gives them the notion you’re hiding something. You get to choose how these conversations with other characters play out, and how much you reveal.

Decisions also carry over into each episode. You might have to make a tough decision about who lives or dies, but the consequences of that decision could not surface until the fourth episode. The structure follows a similar path as BioWare’s Mass Effect series, where bringing your saved game is imported into each episode, tailoring the narrative based around your decisions. It achieves this by effectively considering the first episode as the base game, with subsequent episodes acting as downloadable content that interacts with the main game.

The first episode of The Walking Dead, A New Day, is out now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The next episode should release sometime later this month according to Telltale, with the iOS version of the game hitting the App Store during summer.

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