I have a confession to make; while I have played many adventure games in my life, I have never considered myself a fan of the genre. It is for this reason that The Walking Dead: A New Day is the first game by Telltale Games I’ve ever played. I have always heard a lot of praise for Telltale’s adventure games and, if Walking Dead is anything to judge them by, I now see what all the hubbub is about. If you are a fan of The Walking Dead comic or TV series, then you most likely will love this game, as it captures so much of what makes that series special.
Ask any true Walking Dead fan what makes it so popular and few will tell you that it is the zombies. No, in The Walking Dead it is the characters and relationships between a group of survivors that are its strongest features. Telltale have done an excellent job of getting that right. While there are definitely some exciting moments involving the walkers (Walking Dead’s name for zombies), it is the time you spend with other survivors that makes up the bulk (and best) parts of the game.
You play as Lee, in the very early days of the outbreak, back when people still think there is a chance things could go back to normal in a day or two. Early on you meet an eight year old girl named Clementine, whose parents were away on holiday when everything went to hell, and take it upon yourself to look after her.
The relationship between Lee and Clementine is handled extremely well throughout the game. I really care for that little girl and if anything happens to her during The Walking Dead’s season (this was the first of five episodes, with a new one getting released each month) it will honestly crush me. I have to protect her; not because the game tell me to, but because I want to. But hey, that’s me; you may feel nothing for her and act accordingly, which would impact how her and other characters judge / treat you.
How you treat Clementine isn’t the only tough decision though. Soon you will run into other survivors and make a lot of dialogue choices, which will impact your relationship with them too. Will they trust you? Can you trust them? Will they come to your rescue when you need them or leave you to die? This all depends on how you’ve dealt with the different scenarios that come up.
There will also be instances where you choose who you’re going to try to rescue, which I can see having a larger impact on the overall story. After all, it’s tough for one character to be important in episode three when you let them die in episode one. This leaves a lot of room for replayability, not only to see how things turn out differently here, but how it will impact later episodes as well. There’s a lot of potential for this system, and it reminds me of what we've seen in the Mass Effect series.
Now it’s not all about chit chat mind you, as I’ve never met a zombie who I could talk out of eating me. Sooner or later you’re going to run into an undead person who has a taste for human thigh, and this is when the action takes over. Of course since this is not an action game, but a point & click adventure, the action parts are similar to quick-time-events. They are handled very well and do an excellent job of filling these moments with the tension they deserve. There are also some basic puzzles, but I mean really basic.
The writing for the most part is great, but there are some strange parts that feel like they were put in just to pad things out. An example is when an adult radio journalist needs your help to get a radio working. Not only did she not realise that it had no batteries, but then she asks you to find her batteries because she wouldn’t know what they look like. I’m sorry, but my four year old niece could have gotten that radio working, so that whole “quest” came off as more annoying and made the character look a lot stupider than she is presented otherwise. I mean for God’s sake, she’s the character that everyone lets hold the gun!
My other major issue is on the technical side. I played the Steam version of the game and had a lot of problems getting it to run. In the end I had to make configuration adjustments to the properties of the .exe file. That is not something anyone should ever have to do. I also had quite a lot of stuttering and slowdowns throughout different parts of the game. Taking into account that this is not the most graphically intensive game and my PC is a beast, this also should not have been an issue.
However, looking past all that, The Walking Dead is still a great game. It’s art style is taken from the comics and, for the most part, is animated well. The zombie sounds and voice acting is to a good level too. All in all, this was definitely a strong start for this adventure series and I cannot wait for the other episodes to come out so I can see what will happen next.