The Walking Dead was one of 2012’s most talked about games. Based on the comic book (that spawned the TV series), The Walking Dead was developed by Telltale Games in an episodic fashion, much like a TV show. This is one of the newer approaches to video game delivery, which is to release content as it is completed rather than releasing the whole game when it is finished. The Walking Dead does a decent job at that at least, helping build a desire in gamers to latch onto the next episode to see what happens next. However, after personally combing through the game, I have failed to see the hype surrounding the game, and here are some reasons why.
5) Mixed Voiced Acting
The voice acting in The Walking Dead is a mixed bag. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it isn’t. Every character tends to be blighted by these moments. Fortunately, the more intense and dramatic moments tend to be voiced well, leaving the simpler and straight forward moments to bear the brunt of mediocre voicing.
4) Desensitizes Death
The whole plot behind The Walking Dead is that of a zombie apocalypse. Given that situation, death in the video game is a certainty. The problem arises however, when the game goes out of its way to kill off certain characters over time (more on this later). Thus you become numb to all the death around you and by the end, you don’t feel as emphatic about the situation at hand. Sure, some moments are still sad, but they lose their weight in gold when everyone so easily gets killed off. It doesn’t help that these deaths occur in rather funny/ironic methods too, further pulling you away from any emotional investment you might have in characters. Ultimately, you just can’t shake the feeling that a lot of the deaths in the game occur simply to avoid a messy web of choices and consequences that the developers didn’t want to handle. It pulls you out of your immersion in the story and reminds you that this is a game. Great games don’t do that.
3) Slow Build-Up Of Main Characters’ Relationship
The main characters I’m referring to here are Lee and Clementine. You’ll soon realize the rest of the cast are throwaway characters meant to cater to Lee and Clementine’s story. Unfortunately. Even then, the build-up in the relationship between Lee and Clementine is really slow. In the beginning and up until episode 3, you feel their relationship is equivalent to that of a babysitter and child. This doesn’t really evolve until episode 3 (on a small scale) and only becomes prominent in Episode 4. Episode 5 is more of a conclusion and therefore there isn’t any more room for an in-depth relationship build-up. This wouldn’t be so bad if the other characters surrounding you weren’t throwaway characters, but unfortunately, they are. Therefore, the end of episode 5 evokes a feeling of expected rather than sympathy.
2) Unnatural Dialogue Flow
Truth be told, I could have lived with the previous reasons had it stopped there. The two final reasons however, really brought the game down in my eyes. At number two we have the unnatural dialogue flow within the game. Because of the way the game handles choices and consequences, you’ll get characters responding to you in a very weird manner. At one moment they’ll be treating you kindly and be happy to talk to you, and then in their next sentence, they’ll be angry at you for a choice you made earlier. It totally breaks the immersion factor of trying to appreciate character interaction within the game. It doesn’t help that these sections accentuate the bad voice acting moments and simply drives you to become annoyed with the other characters.
1) Shallow Choices And Consequences
The biggest reason as to why I feel The Walking Dead is overrated is because of how shallow your choices really are in the game. Many who hype the game proclaim it to be a revolutionary way of storytelling, but it isn’t. In fact, it is a disservice to other games out there, whether linear of open-ended, that this game gets praised for its story. Sure, I can understand the praise from an emotional point of view, but that’s all it is. Games have done that for ages. Back to the point though, the choices in the game are very shallow. Your choices either aren’t true choices (things will happen regardless of what you choose), or they don’t have a lasting impact (saving someone in one episode sees them die in the next anyway). I can understand that following through on player choices in the story can be a hard thing to do and will eat up a lot of development resources, but don’t diminish the game by providing gamers with shallow choices. Oddly enough, for a game that has bare-bones gameplay mechanics, the choices you make tend to affect the gameplay more than they do the story. That is uncanny.
How did you feel about the game? Is the game riding the hype of its title tie-in to the comic/TV show, or is it a true gaming gem?