Review by Bobby Shortle
I’m about a month late to the party on this, so instead of a review this will be more of a talk about The Walking Dead: A New Day, the first episode of the game based in the universe of the Robert Kirkman penned comic series. I say universe because the game, created by master’s of the adventure genre Tell Tale Games, does not recount the events of the Rick Grimes and his band of wayward travelers. Instead, the story is set before Rick wakes form his coma and focuses on Lee Everett, a man with a sorted past just trying to survive. Lastly, and most importantly, it, thank goodness, has nothing to do with the AMC show of the same name. In fact, The Walking Dead: A New Day succeeds in every way that show fails, by emphasizing strong complex characters who interact in a believable way. It does all this while presenting simple, but effective gameplay that evokes the tension and desperation our main character is feeling.
For those familiar with either the standard Tell Tale model of point and click adventuring, or the ineffectual system they used in their ill fated Jurassic Park game, will be pleasantly surprised with what Walking Dead has to offer. You are able to move yourself around the environment freely with one stick and with the other you control a cursor that highlights intractable items. These items can range from the mundane, batteries and energy bars, to the vitally important, a person in danger’s hand or the side of a zombie’s skull. These interactions may seem simple, but I’ll tell you, when you are trying to get your reticule in the right place to stop an incoming walker from taking a bite out of your face, it can get very tense. This control system does not revolutionize the adventure genre, but it does provide an evolution that brings into the modern age very nicely. There is no doubt that the mechanics of the game are extremely solid, but where The Walking Dead: A New Day really shines is in its character development and moving story.
The makers of the game were smart to make the main protagonist, Lee, as sympathetic and relatable as possible. There is no doubt in your mind as you make your way through the game’s narrative that this is a good man, who, regardless of his past, just wants to do the right thing. It’s refreshing to get a a character like Lee in the video game space, one who is more substance than surface and thusly one who I am excited to keep learning about as this story progresses. Tell Tale was also quite clever in giving you Clementine, a young girl who you stumble across early in the game, and who you come to protect. Because Clementine is so innocent and so vulnerable you grow to care about her emotional well being, and that includes her opinion of you. There were a few times where I thought about lying to a certain character or taking a certain action, only to think, “What would Clementine think of me if I did this?” It’s that level of involvement with the people who populate the world of The Walking Dead that makes it so special.
What You Need To Know
Nothing, this is a side story to the events of the comic book and a newbie will be just as enthralled as a constant reader.
Buy It – The Walking Dead: A New Day is an excellent first chapter in the Tell Tale’s new series, but it is also a standout game in its own right. It delivers a stellar protagonist, strong characters, involving interpersonal relationships, and above all else, a set of stakes that makes every choice seem vital. The game’s visual style is simple and comic bookie, but it effectively evokes the feeling of reading one of Kirkman’s books, without aping the look directly. It does suffer from small technical hiccups, but these are minor and do nothing to take away from the game’s fantastic story. The Walking Dead: A New Day is a must get, even if it cost twice or three times it’s 4.99 price tag. Being that it doesn’t you should pick this up now!
ABOUT THE WALKING DEAD
The Walking Dead: Episode One – A New Day is set in the world of Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book series. Lee Everett, a man convicted of a crime of passion, has been given the chance for redemption in a world devastated by the undead. Players will experience life changing events, meet new characters and familiar ones from the original comic, and also visit locations that foreshadow the story of Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes. The Walking Dead offers a tailored game experience – player actions, choices and decisions affect how the story plays out across the entire series.
Episode One – A New Day is the first of five monthly episodes of The Walking Dead games series and will be available for 400 Microsoft®Points on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Xbox 360® on April 27th; it is available now for $4.99 per episode on PlayStation®Network, and is available as the first part of a five episode season pass for $24.99 on PC and Mac from the Telltale Online Store and other digital outlets.
The Walking Dead: Episode One – A New Day is rated ‘M’ (Mature) for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence and Strong Language by the ESRB.