Throughout Telltale Games’ Walking Dead series there has never really been an emphasis on challenging gameplay or huge brain-taxing puzzles. Instead this has been a moral journey, one of decision making, loyalty building and soul searching. From the very first episode, the decision you’ve needed to make have been tough, often being forced to go against your better judgement, or go back on a previous promise to keep your group together.
Characters, too, have been flawlessly created. The relationship between Lee and Clementine has blossomed throughout the series, reaching a point when the events of Episode 4 reached an open-mouthed finale moving into the final chapter. Other characters make a huge impact too, and whether they appear for a single episode or stay with us throughout the whole saga, each makes themselves known in spectacular fashion, and causes you to have even bigger problems when deciding what to do in certain situations.
And in Chapter 5, the final chapter of this opening season,the choices you’ve made finally come to a head and the huge effort just to stay alive takes another huge number of twists and turns. Initially setting out on a mission to get back what is most precious to the group (it’s getting very hard to do these reviews without spoilers…) the journey gives more shocks, more open-mouth moments and more lumps to the throat than any of the previous 4 episodes put together. It’s not unusual to get a good storyline in a video game nowadays, and there are plenty of examples just from this year of games that are enhanced by their brilliant writing, but this? It’s on a whole new level.
Picture the scene. A grown man, sitting up at 1am having been unable to stop playing until the credits rolled, staring in disbelief at the TV and fighting back the tears following the closing moments of the series. That was where I found myself at the end of Episode 5, and from discussions with fellow gamers it’s not an unusual situation to find yourself in. It’s not only how the story ends in terms of the characters and their final situations, but how each episode has built up to that exact moment, heightening the player’s emotions to breaking point before unleashing the final sucker punch.
Even beyond the credits, the game is left wide open for a second season, with a perfect amount of mystery to give you a few answers while still leaving you wondering where the story might go next. It’s story telling at its finest, and nothing less than you’d expect from a franchise which has become as popular as The Walking Dead.
So here’s the thing… this is without a shadow of a doubt the finest pointy-clicky adventure I’ve ever played. With your choices affecting your outcomes, and the path through the story changing each time you play through, it’s entirely possible to play through the whole series several times. Well, if you can bring yourself to be a bit of bastard anyway – it’s very very tough to be horrible to Clementine. Ł15.99 will buy you the whole series if you choose to go that route, so for the price of a DVD you can enjoy some of the finest writing and most engrossing developments you’ll experience in this generation. To me, that sounds like a no brainer.
Reviewed on PS3