The Walking Dead: Episode 1 – A New Day [Review]

  • Platform: XBLA(reviewed), PSN, PC
  • Published by: Telltale Games
  • Developed by: Telltale Games
  • Genre: Survival Horror
  • ESRB Rating: M For Mature
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Release Date: April 27th, 2012

The Walking Dead is very popular right now, it has a hit television series and a very big following for the comic books. With so much popularity, it was only a matter of time before we saw a video game based off the franchise. I admit that I’m a huge fan of the television series, but I’ve also dabbled in the comics as well, and those are pretty good too. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Telltale Games because they are more known for point and click games that don’t really let you control much of your character. I also wasn’t real sure about the game releasing digitally and in episodic format. Would the game live up to my lofty expectations set forth by the show and the comics?

I think lately that survival horror and in general zombie themed games have reached their peak. It seems like every game is offering a zombie mode and a lot of games are taking us into a survival horror situation that we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to really care about. Most of the time the characters aren’t likable and the situations often times tend be to humorous, even though developers aren’t intending them to be that way at all. A New Day sets the stage perfectly for this series, it seems like Telltale Games is more into following the comics instead of the television show, but there are some cameos from both the comic series and the television show. So fans of either should find something they like here.

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You play as Lee, a man with a past and during the game you slowly start to learn about what his past actually was. The game starts with you in the back of a police car as your being taken to prison. Needless to say, some very bad things are about to happen. During the game the decisions you make in conversations have an impact, you can choose to lie or be honest with people. You can be nice, or you can be a total jerk. It’s a nice RPG element that is a welcomed addition to the game. This isn’t a typical point and click game by Telltale, I’d venture to say that this is the most ambitious game they have ever produced, it just oozes quality.One of the first things you’ll notice is the cell shaded graphics, I was a bit unsure about this approach at first, but when you realize they are following the comics, it makes sense. It’s also a really artfully done game, the shading is perfect and the voice acting is really spot on. There is a scene early on in the game in which you listen to a mother leave phone messages for her daughter, the emotion level on the last message really pulls on the heart-strings. The music and sounds are just perfect, it really puts you into the game, and the characters are all very likable, you really want to help them out and find out more about them as the game goes along. The game gives you a lot of different choices, including who to save and who not to save, sometimes its a tough choice, personally I found myself playing through the game multiple times until I finished up the first episode the way I wanted to.

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This game is for mature audiences and it has its fair share of gore and coarse language. So I wouldn’t recommend it to younger kids, but at the same time, I’ve seen much, much worse out on the market. This game is survival horror, it’s an RPG and its a bit action based as well. Honestly its got a bit of everything. I think this game has something a lot of zombie games lack, heart and a great story. This is the first zombie game that I’ve played where I really got into the story and the characters and I think that is something that doesn’t happen very often in the genre. You forge alliances, gain respect through deeds and there is even a bit of puzzle solving, the game doesn’t necessarily hold your hand. As for the cameos I mentioned earlier, they are cameos that will be familiar with fans of the comics or the television series.The game has a fixed camera angle and that can take a little while to get used to, but it doesn’t really effect the game in a negative way. Consider the price for the game (400 MS Points or $5), this game is a steal. It’ll take you a couple of hours to go through, more if you want to go through it a couple of times in order to get a save file you will want to use for the next installment. I don’t think we’ll be seeing a more original story when it comes to survival horror anytime soon, Telltale Games definitely got this one right and they deserve any and all accolades when it comes to this game, I was a bit skeptical at first, but now I eagerly await the other episodes in this series. All in all there is going to be five episodes, so you are looking at paying $25 for a 10 hour game, which is a heck of a deal. I hope it eventually comes to disk format so that people without a proper internet connection can get the chance to enjoy this masterpiece.

At the end of the day I think this is a fantastic game, its been a really great year for arcade titles and this just adds to the steady flow of fantastic content. If you’re a survival horror fan but think newer games in the genre lack emotion and story, you need to pick this game up. Its fantastic from start to finish and leaves you wanting more.

Final Score: 9.5/10

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