Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Indie Horror: The Walking Dead series

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 23, 2014

WD_clementineshedYou know, if I were to only to write about indie “zombie games” – for the PC alone – I could probably write up one of these quick takes every day from now until Halloween 2015. I don’t know exactly when or how the zombie craze hit, though it does look like it is on the downside of the peak, which relieves me. Not that I don’t mind a good zombie story / movie / game, but there’s a certain point where it just gets tired.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t point out some of the better games that have come out of that weird craze.

The Walking Dead series by Telltale Games is another series – like Amnesia – that you have probably heard about if you follow indie games at all.  Also like Amnesia, it’s an adventure game that has had a lot of the “adventure game elements” (mainly puzzles)stripped out.  In the case of The Walking Dead, they’ve been replaced with a very rich story that hinges solidly on decisions that you make over the course of the five episodes of a season (there are currently two complete seasons).

Now, this series is based on the comic book, not on the TV series also based on the same comic book. Same source material / world, different story lines. In the game, you play Lee Everett, a recently convicted murderer who has just lost his court trial and is on his way to prison when the zombie apocalypse changes everything. The first person he runs into is eight-year old Clementine, and he immediately becomes her protector and father-figure in a world gone mad.

Shortly afterwards, you run into other survivors – some of whom may be fairly ruthless in their efforts to stay alive in a world of predators – and of course, drama happens. Lots and lots of drama.

WD_ZombiefightMuch of the “gameplay” is limited to fairly straightforward puzzles and “quicktime events” – a short action sequence where you simply have to aim and click or hit buttons in a particular sequence / rhythm within a given time limit. Again, the focus is almost entirely on story, particularly how you interact with other characters in the game. It’s all about making “interesting decisions.” And not trivial, black-and-white decisions, but tough choices about who lives and who dies, what lies or truths you tell, and who gets left behind.

The art style resembles that of a graphic novel, although it’s a full real-time 3D game. As the game is tightly scripted, the camera frequently moves (especially during quicktime events) to a dramatic angle that again calls to mind the framing of panels in a graphic novel.

It’s less of a game and more of “interactive storytelling” – but in a good way. While it has its scary moments,its about like any other zombie movie – more of the tension of being deep behind “enemy lines” with no escape, and the pressure of desperate people trying to survive.

The game is very much rated “M” for graphic violence, language, and mature subject matter. There are currently ten episodes (in two five-episode seasons) available. You can buy the episodes one at a time to try the game out, or you can go for a cheaper option and buy a whole season. There’s also an additional DLC for season 1 called “The 400 Days,” which isn’t part of the main story arc. The game was originally launched for the PC, but is now available on many different platforms, including Mac, iOS, Android, Playstation 3, and XBox 360.

Filed Under: Impressions, Indie Horror Games - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • McTeddy said,

    I will say, TWD didn’t impress me at all. The first chapter was AMAZING and I felt like my like my choices matter. I bought the full game based on that experience.

    Starting in chapter two, paths started to mesh together and everything became linear. It wasn’t long before I realized my choices weren’t having any effect on the game.

    Combine that with a crazy redneck whose conversations went:

    “YOU LEFT MY BOY TO DIE ON THE FARM! But I remember you treated those kids like your own… you love them. BUT YOU TOOK XXX’s SIDE IN AN ARGUEMENT ONCE! And you’ve always been the best of friends to me and my family.”

    This is one of those games that I’d rather watch someone else play. It didn’t work for my own gaming needs.

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    I had pretty much the same experience as McTeddy, and even replayed the first part just to see what difference the choices would make (very little).

    It really didn’t seem like a great game, and yet people do seem to rate it highly. Perhaps it gets better in later chapters? I gave up midway through chapter 2.