Many of us are The Walking Dead fans in one way or another. Whether you’re a fan of the television show, or the graphic novel, you’re probably pretty devoted to watching each episode or reading each issue. Some of us are fans of both, raging at the severe storyline differences that are the result of the director not wanting “graphic novel fans to know everything that happens.” And then things got all sorts of weird—Telltale Games announced a Walking Dead point-and-click adventure video game.
There was a mixed fan response immediately after the announcement. Some were extremely excited, others, like myself, were quite hesitant, because we remembered the awful Jurassic Park game from a few months back. Within seconds of starting up The Walking Dead: A New Day, my mind was at ease. Expecting yet another zombie shooter, I was quickly proved wrong—The Walking Dead has its own take on a zombie apocalypse with with Mass Effect style decision-making.
Initially, I was a bit surprised to find out that The Walking Dead: A New Day is only single-player, but then I realized that’s the only way to handle the property. The Walking Dead, like Mass Effect, is designed to be a single player experience for one person, and one person only. The dialogue selection is similar to Mass Effect, in that you have a short amount of time to make a decision. The “Silent Shepard Syndrome” goes to a whole new level with The Walking Dead, as silence is an acceptable form of dialogue. For everything you say (or don’t say), there are consequences, either positive or negative. These alter your gameplay in terms of outcomes and future relationships with other characters. You can be a good guy, a bad guy, or a silent guy. Don’t let other games and their systems confuse you–you don’t have to go all one way or all the other way here. You can be a complete dick to some, and a total sweetheart to others. A New Day is all about individual relationships.
For example, without spoiling too much, you have the choice of saving one of two characters. Regardless of which character you choose, the same one will live and the same one will die. What changes, however, is your relationship with the related characters. In another part of the game, you have to step in the middle of an argument—you can either break an already developed relationship for the worse, or develop a new one.
The story is not in line with the graphic novel, or the television show, but you do see a couple of characters that exist in both forms. You play a guy named Lee Everett, and you start cuffed in the back of a police car. One thing I truly loved about The Walking Dead: A New Day is the mystery surrounding the character. You start off knowing nothing about him, similar to Billy Coen in Resident Evil 0, and pick up the pieces of his crime and life as the episode rolls out. Granted, this knowledge helps you in more solid dialogue choices in your second playthrough, but the there’s a definitely a magic feeling during that original run.
If I were in the mood for that Resident Evil/Silent Hill-type of survival horror, I wouldn’t turn toward The Walking Dead: A New Day to satisfy those needs. Those games require planning and strategic combat; this is a much quicker, simplistic form of fighting that uses a QTE-like system. It’s easy to get into, but at times I found it difficult to target zombies in a pinch.
The graphics are one of the game’s standout features. I’m glad that Telltale Games went with the comic-style graphics and not the ultra-realistic look as it gives the game its own unique style (and serves as an homage to The Walking Dead‘s origins). Sometimes the subtitles run across the screen a bit too slowly, but it isn’t a dealbreaker.
The Walking Dead: A New Day has phenomenal voice acting. Each character has a fitting voice, and the voice actors themselves are obviously seasoned pros. The moody music and zombie sound effects are also spot-on, reminding me a lot of the show.
At the end of it all, you get a preview of what happens in the next episode, which reflects your in-game decisions. Besides the controls being a bit hard to fully pick up on at first, and the occasional laggy subtitles, The Walking Dead: A New Day is all-win.
Hurry up, TellTale, I can’t wait until the end of the month for episode two.