I know, I know, I’m so late to this party. But with a serious backlog list of games, movies, TV shows and books that I simply must get through (eventually), a social life and least importantly, a job to do, I’ve been limping frighteningly behind. The Walking Dead (from Telltale Games) has been something I’ve been meaning to sink my teeth into (not in a literal sense, there’s enough of that going on already) for a while now. The other night I completed Episode 1.
It’s immersive and inclusive. Your choices actually effect the way your story plays, and if you’ve read anything game related that I have posted in this blog you’ll know I absolutely lurve this feature (READ: Mass Effect). Originally released back in April 2012, it is an “episodic” graphic adventure based on Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic series. It even looks like a comic book, which has an appropriate feel to it in my opinion, the gameplay mechanics are a simple, point and click system and it isn’t too hard on your computer if you’re playing the PC version. In all, it suits all types of gamers and even a casual gamer who is a fan of The Walking Dead TV series or comic series could pick this up fast and enjoy.
Immediately after finishing the episode I scrambled to catalog my thoughts on the experience. This is a play-by-play, walk-through of my own game. I wrote about my choices, the process behind making them, along with how I felt at various stages and a glimpse into my inner monologue throughout. It is a recap of my personal Walking Dead journey. If you ever plan on playing this game yourself please do not read it, as I would hate to be held responsible for ruining what could be a memorable zombie caper for you. So, SPOILERS AHEAD.
Highway to Hell
Okay, down to the best part; the story. We begin the tale in a squad car, where a smooth-voiced, big-eyed dude is being transported to the clink by a chatty officer. We find out that Chocolate Rain has been found guilty of murder, and at this early stage we get the distinct impression that there is so much more to this story. Even chatty officer doesn’t believe our protagonist did it. He reckons that maybe he just married the wrong woman. He probably did, but that’s not the point right now, because there’s a person in the middle of the road and the driver is too busy telling us a story about a murderer who snotted all over his car to see the person who is about to get snotted all over the road. The car hits and I jump in surprise at such an immediate launch into the game.
We try to come to in the wrecked car, which is proving difficult, and all the while in between waning consciousness we hear gruesome noises. It is dark, I’m playing alone in my bedroom and I’m more than a little scared. Eventually I get to move my guy. The noise of his cracking leg as I try to make him pick up the shooter is disgusting, and I’m led to the unconscious, dead-looking officer to try and unlock the handcuffs. Once I do I’m attacked. By the officer, who is now a zombie. HOLY CRAP. Run away run away, I’m yelling at the screen, but it’s not working. I can feel the resistance my character’s busted leg is giving me in the movement of the game. We back up and I make him pick up the gun. I try to make him load it but FFS, he drops the bullet. I’m thinking I’m going to die but thankfully we get the gun loaded and BANG! drop Officer Walker. Phew.
I’m looking around then, trying to get over this brush with death when I notice a small figure in the distance and call out. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be creepy, but it was. Then all of a sudden there are walkers everywhere and I’m shouting at the screen again to get the hell out of dodge. We run through the woods with a horde limping consistently and tenaciously after us and I’m sure, again, that I’m going to die. (I lost count of the amount of times I thought I was going to die while playing this game). Fortunately we come upon a fence and even with the gammy leg manage to scale over it. The walkers become distracted by some off-distance gunshots and we’re alone in a garden. For the first time since the game began I allow myself to relax. A little.
Oh My Darlin’
So I’m roaming around the garden. This is where I start to chuckle, because the spoken inner monologue of our main character is hilarious in parts. I mean, who wouldn’t want to drink some bourbon out of a tea set when faced with the end of the world?
The back door of the house appears to be open, so we go inside, looking for help. There are blood stains on the walls and stuff. Noticing the blinking light of the answering machine, we hit play. The three recorded messages play us the story of how the previous occupants of the house went away to Savannah, leaving their daughter at home with a babysitter. It begins light enough but inevitably ends in probable tragedy. We look around the kitchen hoping for some useful loot, but find a walkie-talkie. When we activate it, we meet the daughter, who is hiding out all alone in the treehouse. Then, without absolutely any warning, we’re attacked again. I swear, I was mashing ‘Q’ so much I think that I’ve probably broken it. We grapple with the walkersitter and I notice that the little girl has appeared at the sliding door, holding a hammer. But I’m so preoccupied with kicking this thing in the mush over and over that at first I don’t think I’ll have time to do anything. “Here, here!” she’s saying at me, so I take the chance and grab it, and then proceed to completely butcher this creature with a hammer in front of the child.
“Is it dead?” I have no idea really, but I scrambled its brains so I’d probably say yes, though there’s no way I’m hanging around to find out. I have a brief chat with the little girl, who is called Clementine. I immediately feel sorry for her and don’t have the heart to tell her that her folks are probably now undead, so I recruit her into my personal army and promise to have her back. We leave in daytime (because that’s safer, right?) and wander outside, where we find two guys hanging around on the street.
One is called Shawn and I can’t remember what the other one is called. In return for help pushing an abandoned car out of the way Shawn says he’ll give Clem and I a ride the hell out of there to some farm. Good deal. We get going just in time as the walkers descend.
Were you born in a barn?
Arriving at the farm we meet Shawn’s dad, who is Hershell! We (by we I mean Lee and I) tell Hershell his son is a bonafide hero and then Hershell miraculously fixes Lee’s leg with his magical farmer hands. Not before he fixes us with a beady, all-knowing stare though, and tries to weasel out some truth. I’m not playing ball. We don’t need everyone knowing Lee is a convicted felon who is now solely in charge of a little girl’s safety. We sleep in the barn and talk about horse plop.
The next morning we’re rudely awakened by a hick in a hat. Kenneth, or Kenny, or Ken, is trying to make us get up and do chores. He chats away and introduces us to his family, which consists of himself, his wife Katjaa and his son… Duck. “Duck? Wtf.” Yeah, apparently he’s called Duck because nothing bothers him. This simple child gets overly excited about the prospect of helping Shawn and driving a tractor. Kenny has already said his son is as dumb as a box of rocks, and I’d have to agree. This tells me that Kenny is a realist. Not one of those parents completely in denial about the intelligence or talents of their children. I like him. So spazzy Duck runs off to help and Clementine stays to chat with Eastern European Mama Kat. Lee ambles around and chats to people, wrangling a lift to Macon with Kenny in the meantime. We end up in the barn again to chat with Hershell about matters like the importance of safety on his farm. That chat doesn’t go so well as once again seemingly psychic Hershell probes Lee for answers.
I’m still lying. Hershell is pissing me off at this stage.
Then, something happens. Walkers break through the fence that Shawn is trying to reinforce. Lee legs it over there while Hershell says he’s going to get his gun. We arrive to find a dire situation, and the first of three hard decisions to make in this episode. Do we save Shawn, or Duck. Shawn – The pleasant, industrious young man who has pretty much agreed with everything you’ve already said and likes and respects you for taking charge of little Clementine. Duck – The not so bright child with seemingly no sense of reality who will most likely get everyone killed. Sigh. I want to save Shawn. But I don’t, I save the child. Thinking that this is probably what everyone would do, I grab Duck and hand him over to Kenny. Kenny looks at me, and at Shawn, like a rabbit caught in headlights, and then runs away. I curse at the injustice of it all, thinking it would have been possible to save them both. Alas, no. Shawn is mauled by the walkers and Hershell is just too late with his shotgun. It was only afterward I realised that the player stats for this particular scenario were split nearly 50/50. I was so surprised by this, and even though realistically it made more sense to save Duck as he had less of a chance of being bitten than Shawn did, I thought that maybe I should have gone with my gut and saved Shawn.
Hersell was pretty angry with us, and justifiably so. We’re kicked off his farm and if I’m honest I’m pretty happy about this because that was really uncomfortable. I wonder if we’ll see him again. My gut says maybe.
The group runs out of gas in downtown Macon (mmm, Macon) and as soon as we disembark from the truck we run into walker trouble, naturally, because they’re everywhere and we have NO WEAPONS. We’re saved by a sharpshooter, an AV geek and Glenn! Yay, Glenn. We’re hustled into a pharmacy and it’s all very confusing because everyone is shouting. There’s a woman, and an older man with a distinctive profile roaring at our saviours, and then at us because apparently Duck got hurt in the kerfuffle outside. Clementine is tugging on my sleeve and telling me she needs to pee, but I have to tell her to hang on because ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat, they want to kill Ducky-Derp. Even though I knew all along that my decision to save this kid would probably cause me trouble, I can’t let them hurt him because Kenny is my boy now. I step in and tell them to back the eff of (I think I called the woman a few names at some stage too), but Mr. Distinct Profile is having none of it so I have to threaten him with violence. We’re interrupted by Clementine getting attacked by a walker, who was hiding out in the loo. I rush to save her, but this one is hard and the only reason we get away is because Sharpshooter pops a cap in its face.
Shouty Man (who we learn is called Larry, and the opinionated “Leader” is his daughter, Lilly) starts to have a heart attack and his chest pains give us a reprieve. We thank the Sharpshooter, whose name is Carley, and we’re introduced to Doug (AV geek) and Glenn, who I already knew (but not from this story). Glenn decides he has to go on a one man suicide mission to get some fuel, and my Lee tells him that’s a great idea. In the meantime, we have to find some meds for Larry, who is now thankfully quiet. We mosey around, talking to people, finding clues, checking in on Ken and clan. Ken displays great remorse over what happened to Shawn and I console him, even though I think its his fault.
We hand out a few energy bars (to Duck Clementine and to Lilly in the hopes of garnering some affection), find batteries for a radio and venture into the back office where we find a few interesting things. We learn (if we hadn’t known already) that Lee’s family had owned the pharmacy, and they’re all dead now. Sad face.
Carley the Sharpshooter confronts us here and declares she knows who Lee really is. I’m like FFS, I can’t catch a break. But she says she won’t tell anyone, and neither should I. In a weird way, I trust her. We do some more exploring in the office, pick up a few useful items and have an uncomfortable conversation with Clementine about Lee’s family and the man he killed. We realise we need keys to open the pharmacy door and once we finish up and go back outside we hear from Glenn. Who needs help. So off Lee goes with Carley to do just that.
We roll up to a motel, where Glenn is hiding from walkers in a big ice bucket thing. I loled. He tells us there’s a girl crying and trapped in one of the rooms and that we have to save her. Lee agrees with Glenn, but actually I agreed with Carley, whose stance on the subject was AW HELL NO. But she’s overruled (unfortunately) and we set to infiltrating the carpark of the motel. This part was great, and played like a puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed figuring it out and some of the deaths were really gory. We even managed to score ourselves an ax! Hooray.
We eventually free the trapped woman who is revealed and is a mess. She’s been bitten and there’s no hope for her really. Our next big decision of this episode is whether or not to give her the gun so she can kill herself. Neither of my companions really like this option, but I see this as a mercy, so I tell Carley to give her the gun. She does so, reluctantly, and Lee waits while the bitten woman offs herself. Glenn is pretty unhappy with me but Carley gets over it quick enough.
Back at the Everett’s Pharmacy Doug and I figure out a plan to get the keys from Lee’s dead brother’s body. This is pretty intense I tell you, and Lee axing his brother’s head off was visceral. We get back inside, hunt for the drugs for Larry and then all hell breaks loose. In the mass exodus, Lee, Carley and Doug stay behind to hold off the horde while the rest run to the safety of Ken’s truck. We’re bracing the doors with our backs and Doug tells Lee that he thinks he’s a great guy. I appreciate that Doug, but stop with the silly talk, we’re all gonna get out of here. Then Carley tells Doug there’s something she needs to tell him, just in case she doesn’t get out of this alive. For a nanosecond I think she’s going to warn Doug about Lee’s dark past, and I think, BUT I TRUSTED YOU! Anyway that doesn’t happen because up next is our third and last big decision. Walkers break through. A couple grab Doug through a boarded up window, and another grabs Carley’s leg. Doug is about to be eaten and Carley can’t reach her ammo. Who do I save?
Daddy or Chips?
Carley is the obvious choice here, because she looks as though she has a better chance of surviving. But Carley knows my secret and Doug thinks I’m a great guy. But this time, I go with my gut and save Carley. I have no idea why I did this really, but she is a great shot in fairness to her.
It’s non-stop action though, as suddenly Clem is in trouble. Again. I rush to save her. Again. But Larry the Judas appears, hits me and runs off, leaving me all alone. That BASTARD. But wait, all is not lost, I’m not going to die, because my boy Ken rescues me. Phew.
We cut to the motel, where it appears we’re making our new home. I chat to the group. Glenn is hightailing it off to Atlanta to check on his friends. Carley is upset because she really liked Doug and I realise that’s what she was going to tell him back at the pharmacy. I tell Duck to back off Clementine a little as she seems quite sad and doesn’t need his noise. I feel terrible when Clementine tells me her only possible point of contact with her parents (her walkie) is broken, and I can’t help but think that Doug the tech guy would probably have been able to fix it. Ah well, we’ll get her another one. Larry the Judas then calls me over for a cozy chat. He asks me if I like his daughter. I say sure, she’s aight. Then he tells me to stay the hell away from her, and that he knows who I really am. I’m annoyed because all I can do here is talk. Where is the strangle action? Why can’t I chop off this traitor’s head with my ax? Do I even still have my ax? I can’t remember. Anyway,I can’t kill him. Even though I really want to.
And thus ends this first episode. It was great. Looking forward to the next chapter.
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 2 – Starved For Help (verbalspew.wordpress.com)
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead (verbalspew.wordpress.com)
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 4 – Around Every Corner (verbalspew.wordpress.com
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 5 – No Time Left (verbalspew.wordpress.com)