The Walking Dead – XBLA Part 1 Hands On

With the success of the comic books and television series I take a look at the latest instalment from Robert Kirkmans zombie universe, the first chapter from Telltale games The Walking Dead entitled “A New Day”.

As a massive fan of both the comic books and television series, when the news of a Walking Dead game emerged, to say I was excited would be an understatement. From the second the original announcement was made there was just one question I kept asking myself, how was it going to work? That question was answered sooner rather than later as it was announced as a 5 part episodic release starting in April.

Upon the games recent release I was very eager to download and play through, and was very intrigued when I started playing. The first instalment of game is set before the main events of The Walking Dead seeing as Atlanta still stands, albeit only just. I imagine that Rick Grimes, the main protagonist from the series is still in his coma somewhere blissfully unaware of whats happening around him. Within the game you play the role of Lee, a man accused of murder and your journey starts after being transported into a police car in which you are involved in a car accident and eventually you black out. After regaining consciousness you realise very quickly that things aren’t right and you then catch a glimpse of a figure in the distance. You later discover this figure to be your main companion in the story, Clementine, and shortly after you set off with Clementine to find help her parents, but by no means is this an easy ride! Throughout there are some very tough decisions to make, some that will have an adverse effect on the way you are treated by the people you encounter in the game, and so decisions are not to be taken lightly.

The first thing that struck me with the visuals was how they looked so similar to previous games but at the same time were made to look very different and unique. I loved how they had been made to look like a virtual comic book and there is even a couple of familiar faces to encounter which gives you an insight on how their journeys began.

The gameplay feels as if you’re playing a very basic version of the old PC adventure game Broken Sword – where you have to scan the environment for items and other important objects needed to progress in one way or another. This element of the game is very limited because a lot of the time you are just performing quick time events (some of which can literally decide the fate of other characters you encounter) and watching cut scenes; that being said they are what brings a bit of the intensity to the game because if you’re not quick enough its sadly game over! My main annoyance from the gameplay is that the game is far too easy and so progression to completion will take very little time. The game is played out in chapters, but you can’t actually distinguish between them except from when your Xbox360 notifies you that you have gained an achievement. There is also an auto save feature which will save faily regularly, so should the unthinkable happen and you fail at some point you wont have to worry about being sent too far back in your tracks.

The background music and sounds within the game really suit the environment that you would expect from The Walking Dead, with plenty of whistling winds and groans from zombies hidden off-screen, you really are made to feel like you’re in The Walking Dead. This is made very apparent from the second you get to take full control of the game as you are instantly made to feel very alone as you enter the back garden of a house and all around you is nothing but a calm, silent wind blowing in the background and the occasional groan from the zombies on the other side of the fence. During quick time events there is an added sense of intensity and danger as your character Lee will struggle with zombies or try to keep a door held shut from attacking. You will never tire of hearing that very satisfying sound of a hammer or screwdriver piercing the skull of a zombie – it’s awesome and adds to the intensity of the action.

Personally, overall I was left a little disappointed because I would have liked to have had more of the point and click gameplay which would have given the game more of a challenge. The game only took a little over 2 hours to fully complete, and that even includes talking to every character and listening to what they had to say in the interaction elements. There isn’t really any replay value to it either, although I did play through it again to make different choices incase they affect the remaining chapters. That being said as a fan of the comics and tv series I still liked what I played and feel this is a good companion to The Walking Dead universe, so I’m looking forward to the next chapter which is due for release some time in May. If you’re a fan of the comic books or AMC’s hit TV show, then it may just be worth you giving it a go as it will further expand the already vast universe that you know and love.

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