Saturday, December 8, 2012

Doomsdaycember: Why You Should Play The Walking Dead

Last night was the Spike VGAs. The Walking Dead won GOTY, and it deserved it.

SPOILER ALERT: Some people are pissed.
SPOILER ALERT: The people that are pissed are ones that haven't played the game.

The Walking Dead isn't a game. It's not an interactive movie, either. It's an experience. You'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't at least try it out. I've finished the game twice now, and my thoughts on it have yet to change: This may very well be the best experience I've had with a game this generation.

The focus isn't on gameplay. It's a point and click adventure, you solve puzzles to move forward and there's some QTEs thrown in for when things get tense. The focus is on the characters, the choices you make, the consequences of those choices, and the harshness of the world these characters live in.

There are five episodes in the first season, each approximately 2-3 hours in length. That may seem short, but each of those episodes is pure content: You're not spending an hour in between plot points doing menial tasks and fetch quests. Quality over quantity here when it comes to the time you'll be putting in.

Lee Everett is the protagonist of the story, and a former college professor. The opening scene is our hero in the back seat of a police car, being escorted to prison after sentencing. He caught his wife in bed with a Senator, and he committed a crime of passion. Already our character is flawed. He's not a shining white knight, some beacon of hope. He's human.

I won't say how, because this is something you need to experience for yourself, but Lee eventually comes across a little girl named Clementine who has been hiding in her tree house from the walkers. Clementine is actually the main character, we simply play as Lee. The convicted murderer takes Clementine under his care, doing his best to protect her and get by in the world they now live in: Where the dead walk the earth.

The true highlight of the game is how the decisions we make as players impact us. At least three or four times an episode I found myself a surge of emotions; angry, scared, nervous, filled with anguish... There are no happy endings in the Walking Dead universe. The game manages to fill us with the emotions someone in that position might actually feel. I've been playing games for 20+ years, and no other title has done that to me.

This young girl, Clementine, this innocent child, will be by your side as you try to protect her from zombies. She will witness murder. She will cry and plead with you, the player, to save someone you know doesn't deserve to live. What will you tell her? What will you say to her to explain why you just impaled a man with a pitchfork? What will you tell her when she has tears in her eyes and asks why you killed a member of your group?

Along the way, you'll come across numerous other characters. Some will make it. Some won't. The normal rules don't apply here in the Walking Dead universe: Typically, there's an unwritten rule, a code, where certain characters are off limits. Nothing bad can happen to that character. Typically they're too young, too important, etc for something to go wrong. That rule doesn't exist here. The world is a fucking terrible, terrible place. One not worth living in, if you asked me. This universe doesn't give a damn what you and your characters went through, what they've already lost... It'll take and take until your characters have nothing left. Then it will take more.

These characters will suffer their own losses. Your decisions will impact how they view you, what they'll say in the heat of the moment... whether or not they charge in to save you or walk away in your time of need. Each character will undergo development, not just yourself and Clem.

You'll grow attached to them. You'll be invested in them, and when the world hurts them, your heart will ache because of it. And you'll love the game that much more for it.

You'll learn what the hell people have done to survive... Trading sex for insulin, murder for supplies, and that's just the PG-13 stuff. Stuff you, as Lee Everett, are trying to protect this little girl Clementine from. Will you be successful?

Go find out.



  2. Aru, have you played it yet??

    1. As of this reply, I still haven't played it.