Star-Fired Beef

Steam Challenge – The Walking Dead Season 1

5 Comments

This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).

I went in blind to Telltale’s The Walking Dead. All I knew was that it was one of the best games from that company, and one of the best adventure games ever. I have not seen the TV series, or read the comics that all these other products are based on. It was all new to me.

It was even better than the hype – and it is standing at 97% positive reviews on Steam, from over 25 thousand. I just need some time to process my experience. This game made me feel things. I cannot believe how exhausting it is to go through such an intense emotional ride. Even now, days later, I am going back over my choices, wondering if I could have made it better somehow, if I could have been a better role model, a better friend, a better survivalist.

My first thought on finishing was, no it can’t end like that I need to go back and explore other choices. But the prospect of doing that weighed so heavily on me, was so intimidating, I knew that I couldn’t put myself through it again so soon. And then I realised that that was a good thing, that one of the best things about games like this is the fact that your choices – often in the heat of the moment, with little time to think – can give you access to the story in a personal way, that you have been able to insert yourself into the story in such a way that you are part of it, personally. It becomes your story, in a way, and that makes it a very special thing. Going back and exploring other options, although I do want to see what happens, is purely academic now, it is gaming rather than storytelling.

This was the first time I’ve played with quicktime events, so they caught me off guard the first few times. I liked the way they were implemented here.

Regarding the path I took: as I said, it feels like a very personal journey, so I won’t go into any details here. I am happy to discuss and compare notes with others who have played, however. All I will say is that throughout the game I did my best to be honest but sometimes guarded, and always kept in mind the effect it would have on Clementine, should she find out. I tried to stay neutral as much as I could, which might have backfired on me in some ways and definitely got someone killed that I reeeeeeally wanted to keep around.

I found it really odd that nobody ever used the word “zombie”, it was the one misstep in the narrative, I thought. I know it’s a thing from the comics, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.

In summary, The Walking Dead is amazing and I might just get the DLC, 400 Days, next week in order to eke out every last drop from this game. I have a feeling that Season 2 is in my near future too, despite my attempts to limit new acquisitions.

Reeeeeeally NSFW

DMX, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ozzy Osbourne & Crystal Method – Nowhere To Run

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5 thoughts on “Steam Challenge – The Walking Dead Season 1

  1. I really, really loved the first season of Walking Dead. The second season is good, but didn’t have quite the same effect a the first. I still have one last part to complete, and really should get around to it.

  2. So happy you played this! I have so many thoughts, I’ll try not to turn this comment into an essay.

    The Walking Dead season 1 was one of the best games I’ve played in the last few years. It had such an emotional impact, was so well written and I got so attached to the characters so quickly. Usually I’m not a fan of having young children in video games, but Clem was great as was her relationship with Lee. I like what you say about the decisions made in a sort of spur of the moment way personalizing the game for you. I felt that as well. In something like Life is Strange, you get to take back your choices and try the other options while you play and that turned me off entirely (which is why I stopped after chapter 1, also the waiting between episodes).

    TWD season 1 was this magical experience for me, before I fully understood the Telltale formula. I hope I’m not ruining future experiences for you or putting negative thoughts in your head saying this, but once I had played a couple Telltale games the veil sort of came off and the magic went away. I realised my choices weren’t really that important when it came to the bigger things like who lives and dies, and began to feel a little misled by all the “so-and-so will remember this” messages popping up on my screen. TDW worked because I didn’t know how much impact my choices were having (or not having) and the choices I most cared about were the ones that created a strong bond with Clem and prepared her to take on the world.

    Anyway, I’m glad you liked it. I wasn’t a big fan of season 2 as I thought the writing took a nosedive, even though I was interested to see Clem’s story continue.

    • I remembered you mentioning that one game kept shoving the whole “X will remember this” in your face to an annoying extent, and even though I was pretty sure it wasn’t TWD (might have been Wolf Among Us?) the first thing I did before starting my journey was to turn off messages like that. It really does add to the immersion – I would have had a much less enjoyable experience with those kinds of messages intruding on it.

      I keep getting Telltale and Double Fine mixed up, but this is the first adventure game from them that I have played with actual choices to be made. Monkey Island, Back To The Future, Sam & Max, Strong Bad, they all seem to be about the puzzles and humour more than narrative choice. Sounds like I did things the right way round then, playing TWD before WAU and GoT and Tales From the Borderlands. Not sure how Broken Age fits in to that spectrum but it’s on my list too.

      I was so disappointed that there was no reunion at the end, after Clem leaves Lee. I had Christa and Omid left before the finale – Kenny died along the way to the hotel – and I sent them back to the train to wait. Lee even told Clem that before the end, so I was like wait, did you even try to find them, Clementine? I had been quietly satisfied that Omid and Christa would be good surrogate parents to her, and I looked forward to continuing the journey with them.

      I do want to see Clem’s story continue. It is the only way I would buy season 2. I couldn’t start over with new characters, and playing as one of my survivors without Clem is unthinkable. I do hope to see Molly again though, she was pretty cool.

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