E3 First Impressions: The Walking Dead
Posted on Thursday, June 16 @ 19:20:42 Eastern by Eduardo_ReboucasLet me start out by saying that I absolutely adore Robert Kirkman's work on The Walking Dead. It's one of my favorite comic book series ever and one of the only ones I still read on a regular basis. So getting word that a video game in the works about those books has me completely giddy. And having Telltale work on it is even more reason to get excited, considering their portfolio of games.
Word of warning—everything I'm describing here is from a conversation at E3. The group at Telltale's E3 booth didn't have a single screenshot to look at, only a few scattered pieces of concept art. The game was described to us by a Telltale rep, but even then, knowing the comic and show, it was easy to piece together how the game will eventually play.
The Walking Dead starts off in a similar fashion to the comics. You play as Lee Everett, who rides on a prison bus that is apparently making its way to Atlanta. Everything goes crazy with the zombie apocalypse, though, and somehow, our friend manages to escape—to absolute hell. If you've watched the premiere episode of the TV show or read the first issues of the comic, you know how bad things get in Atlanta.
Similarly to George A. Romero's Living Dead works, The Walking Dead's fiction is all about the human factor. Sure, the whole world is going to the crapper, people are dying and getting up again as flesh-eating ghouls, but the true danger is in the form of the surviving human beings. Human conflict is the central theme and Telltale is taking it to new levels by introducing Clementine, a little girl who joins Lee and acts as his "moral compass".
The game comes set with its own story, not directly tied to all of the characters and situations of the comics and show. Telltale mentioned that a few characters from the comic, like Glenn and Lily, would make an appearance in some fashion, but they won't be making extended stays, giving way to an entirely new group of characters and thus more tension as to who gets out of hell or who gets dragged down.
The comic book is known to violently switch casts with the blink of an eye and such a thing would be a breath of fresh air in the gaming space. Could anyone ever dream of seeing the apparent hero of a game just die in the first few minutes only to be replaced by someone you thought was just a secondary or tertiary guy? The possibilities are plentiful.
According to Telltale, Lee isn't exactly a nice person (he was in a prison bus after all). Clementine will be his companion throughout the ordeal and will balance his actions toward the many situations they're sure to run into with other humans and the zombies. As a kid, her spirit is clean, Telltale noted, so she'll be extremely judgmental of Lee's decisions.
Decisions are a relatively new thing for Telltale. Their games have been pretty linear up to this point, with few alternatives to the gameplay. It sounds like The Walking Dead is going to change that. Clearly, Telltale is going to follow with the comic book tradition of leaving us dumbfounded as to whether or not a character will make it out alive, with danger just about everywhere. Similarly to their newly announced Jurassic Park game, no one is sure to survive.
Telltale said that they cannot yet show us how the game is going to look but gave hints, telling us that the black-and-white style of the comic will be playing a part in the presentation. This isn't to say that this game's going to look exactly like the comic, but it gives hope that it'll have a unique look to it and won't spare us anything—blood, guts and gore all over. TWD will definitely be one of the only Telltale M-rated games.
The Walking Dead just might make it to its third medium and make a splash there as well. Sadly, we'll have to wait until late 2011/early 2012 to find out. The promise seem amazing so far and considering what Telltale's been doing with different franchises lately, it's easy to see this game doing extremely well and fitting in with the fiction created by the excellent comics.
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