Game Review: ‘The Walking Dead’: A tough story that will rip your heart to shreds

Game reviewby George Hide, Volunteer

Player choice has been an interesting trend in the gaming industry over the years. It’s been seen as both a blessing (in cases like “Mass Effect” or “Spec Ops: The Line”) and a curse (in cases like “inFamous”), but rarely has any game literally moved me to tears. “The Walking Dead” is one such game.

Most people probably know “The Walking Dead” as a popular TV show based on the comic series by Robert Kirkman. If you’re a fan of the TV show that wants to jump into this game, know that the game has more to do with the comic than it does the TV show. And if you’re in the middle of the TV show or comics, rest assured that there are no spoilers in the game for either.

“The Walking Dead” is a point-and-click adventure game by Telltale Games, the developers who brought properties such as “Sam and Max,” “Homestar Runner” and “Back to the Future” to the adventure game scene.

However, it’s important to note that this is not an action game. If you’re looking for a fun zombie-killing romp along the lines of “Left 4 Dead” or “Dead Rising,” look elsewhere. The main focus of this game is narrative, not action.

And what a narrative. Like its source material, this game has twists, turns, humor, sorrow and even heartbreaking moments. The game puts you in the role of Lee Everett, a criminal on his way to prison when his police escort crashes into a zombie. He seeks shelter in a nearby house, where he finds the emotional heart of the tale: a young girl named Clementine. Together, Lee and Clem must travel through waves of zombies and face humanity’s darkest and toughest side in order to survive and find someplace safe.

Along the way, the duo encounters a lot of fantastic characters, some recognizable to fans of the “Walking Dead” mythos and some brand new. Over the course of the game, Lee must make crucial choices regarding who to trust and whose side he’s really on. Refuse or forget to find heart medication for a grumpy survivor, for example, and he may leave you for dead later when you need his help. Although the overarching story remains the same for every playthrough, how you get there is entirely up to you, and like “Mass Effect,” every player will probably get something different out of the experience.

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There isn’t much to speak of as far as actual gameplay concerns. A few simple puzzles and quick-time events make up the actual gameplay, and they aren’t very difficult. The easy gameplay isn’t nearly as engaging as the story.

So don’t play this game for the puzzles. Play this game for the heart-wrenching narrative it tells. This game is at the pinnacle of interactive storytelling. If you enjoy games like the “Mass Effect” series or previous Lucasarts or Telltale adventure games, this will probably be your thing.

Game: “The Walking Dead

Developer: Telltale Games

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac

Rating: 4