The Walking Dead: Season One Review

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Title: The Walking Dead: Season One
Developer: Telltale Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.3 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download

The Walking Dead is both a phrase and a franchise. When you hear those three words, you could think of many different things. Most likely, however, you think of zombies. Zombies have been a very popular part of our culture in media for a long time. From the original Night of the Living Dead from nearly a century ago to Resident Evil from the 1990s. Zombies have been a huge thing and more and more media is coming out. The most recent? The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead has become a huge thing ever since they created a Television Show on AMC about it. The franchise was originally a comic book series, and the TV Show remains faithful to some parts, but then alters others and makes itself its own story. The show has seen many seasons and is still getting more. Once this became popular, the series branched out to video games.

The Walking Dead became an episodic video game and is on almost every game system currently still getting support. The last system to get it was the PlayStation Vita, which got the entire Season One of episodes of the game in a single Vita Cartridge, as well as digital downloads. How did Telltale Games bring The Walking Dead to the Vita? Let’s find out. Here is our official coverage of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Season One.

 

 Story

 

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 The Storyline of The Walking Dead is its biggest and most attention-grabbing factor. Throughout the entire game, the storyline takes front stage, even over the gameplay, which is something that doesn’t happen that often in gaming anymore. I found myself more focused on the story and what was going on than actually playing the game.

The story of The Walking Dead follows Lee, a man on his way to prison in Macon, Georgia, when the police cruiser he is in crashes. Not understanding what’s going on, and hurt, he climbs out of the car and finds the officer locked in a fate worse than death. The dead officer reanimates itself and attacks Lee. Quickly taking action, Lee is able to subdue the officer, but soon unfolds events that lead him to believe that there is a plague ravaging the area, if not the entire world that brings the dead back to life, craving human flesh.

The story of Season One follows Lee through his journey as he finds a young girl that starts traveling with him, her name Clementine. Along the five-episode journey, they gain allies, enemies, and see the harsh reality of an apocalyptic world and what dangers lie in the dead and even the living.

The interesting thing about the story is how it is portrayed. When you play The Walking Dead, it feels like you’re watching a television show. Story stays big from start to end, and even the end and beginning of each episode has sections that talk about “Next time…on The Walking Dead” and “Previously….on The Walking Dead!” It really gives you a casual feel that you’re in the middle of a TV series.

The story isn’t something that will win any awards, but the characters and the plot are very personal. As you see characters, you learn about them and get to know them. You get close to them and quickly designate favorites, hoping that they make it through to the end. There are points in the plot that are unexpected and shocking. I found myself on the edge of my seat many times, especially towards the end of the game. If this were a TV show, I’d watch it.

 Gameplay

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The Walking Dead is a game that is played very different from a normal video game. While you do indeed walk through areas and interact with objects, it is in a unique way that newcomers to Telltale Games will not expect. This is because the game controls and feels more like an interactive show than a video game.

As you play through this game, you will encounter parts of the story where you will need to traverse areas and interact with different objects. These objects could be a person, a door, a zombie, an object, or something else. You will be able to walk around to the different areas to find these things, and then your goal is to interact with them to trigger the next cut scene.

Interacting with these things can be done in different ways. There are a lot of objects you can interact with, but you don’t need to interact with all of them, and others need to be interacted with in certain orders. When you find an object, you can initially “Look” at it, which has Lee walking up to it and talking about it, sometimes giving hints on how to solve the puzzle. Another way is by interacting with it by using an item you have found and is in your inventory on it, like using a key on a door or inserting a quarter into a vending telescope.

Actually interacting with these is done with your cursor. There is a cursor in these sequences that can be moved around the screen. Once it hovers over an object or person, you will get prompts for the different things you can do, from looking to interacting to talking.

Another element here is that some of them are timed. There will be situations where you will need to move and interact quickly to survive the sequence. There are lots of times when Walkers (zombies) will attack you and you will have mere seconds to react without being killed. Sometimes you will have a weapon on you and need to interact with a walker in front of you before they reach you or one of your allies. This requires precision in some situations and must be done again if you fail, after watching whoever the Walkers were after dies.

You will also get decisions you can make throughout the game. Some of these can decide if a person lives or dies and, in many cases, the game will force you to choose whether to save one person or another, and never both. These sorts of decisions impact how the game plays and how the story proceeds. While virtually the same ending happens no matter what you do, everything that happens before, as well as what happens in the upcoming sequel, will be affected by every one of these actions. The game auto-saves the game at certain points, too, so make sure you made the right decision, as you may not be able to go back later.

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As a bonus, there is a section at the end of each episode that lists all of the major decisions you have to make. It connects to the leaderboards and tells you what percentage of people who have played the game have made the same decision that you did.

This really affects the replayability of the game. If you want to be able to watch every possible scene, you would have to play the games several times and remember decisions you do or don’t do. Other than replaying the game, it still offers a sizeable amount of playtime. Each of the five episodes of The Walking Dead will take you about two hours to complete. Having these, plus the DLC episode “400 Days”, the game will give you at least 12-15 hours of gameplay, without replaying.

 Controls

Controls in The Walking Dead aren’t hard to grasp, and that mostly has the PlayStation Vita’s buttons and the simple style of gameplay to thank. Throughout the game, you will mostly only be using the face buttons, the D-Pad, and the Analog Sticks.

Moving around the area is controlled with the Left Analog Stick, and the Right Analog Stick is used to move the camera and move the cursor that lets you interact with objects. Actually interacting with these objects is either done with the Face Buttons or the D-Pad. There are four areas on the cursor that will get prompts, the top, left, bottom, and right. For each prompt, you hit a button on the D-Pad or Face Buttons that corresponds to that position. For example, if there is a prompt on the bottom of the cursor, you would press the Down D-Pad button or the X button to initiate that interaction.

Some segments, however, have to be done with the Face Buttons. If you’re trying to push an object or shove a Walker off of you, you may have to rapidly press the X Button and that is only the X Button. It is not interchangeable with the D-Pad like the other interactions are.

The Start Button is also used, which brings up the Menu. This can be brought up at any time, whether it’s in the middle of a fight with a Walker or walking through a Motel. It will allow you to see the tutorials and options for the game, as well as resuming the game.

The menus and the Title Screen are handled by the touch screen. You can also set the game to control with the touch screen, like Mobile releases of this, but I feel that using the buttons is a little more responsive.

 Presentation

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As far as the visuals go, this game looks really nice. Every bit of visual in this game is used with cell-shading, just as the other versions of this game are. Character renders look very much perfect as you play through the game and, as well as the game flows with the visuals, it’s really hard to be able to see the flaws in the graphical design of the game.

If you look really close, you can see jagged edges around some environment, but if you’re not looking for them, you may not see them at all. The graphics aren’t as smooth and perfect as the PlayStation 3 version of this game, but it looks very graphically impressive for a PlayStation Vita title.

The sound of this game is also done well enough. As far as music goes, there isn’t going to be anything to make you jump from your seats in excitement. I don’t really recall any tracks, other than some fast-paced music in some chase and battle sequences, stand out to me. The audio work, however, was done very well. I recognized a few voices, such as the Voice Actor who played The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, and each of the voices is mostly believable for the character situations.

The bad part of the presentation and, the bad part of this version of the game, is that we’ve got some frame rate issues. Every once in a while, we will see some slowdown and lag during a sequence where Lee is running or moving quickly to fend off Walkers. This does not show up very much, but the lag is considerable.

That isn’t the bad part, though. Every time the game Auto-Saves and every time a new sequence loads, there is a pretty long wait time. We aren’t talking 30 seconds of wait time, but each time this happens the game will freeze and stay frozen for up to 10-20 seconds at a time. The game is not supposed to do this and doesn’t on the other versions of the game. But it does here. These sequences can be very long and happen very often. It’s not game-breaking, but it is very frustrating and annoying, especially if you’re eagerly waiting for a button prompt that is timed.

 Overall

All in all, The Walking Dead is a very interesting experience and a fun one, if you can get into the game’s style. The characters are those many can relate to, the twists are tear-jerking, and the amount of twists and turns you can initiate can result in several plays through the game. Despite the fact that the game has some serious lag issues when loading new sequences, it is a fun experience that any zombie fan should experience.

 The PlayStation Review Network Rates The Walking Dead: Season One a 7.5/10

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