The Walking Dead: “A New Day”

Walking-Dead-The-Game_ver2_XBLAboxart_160w
9.8 Overall Score

Intriguing characters with great graphics and an interesting story.

Xbox 360 controls a bit clumsy at times.

Written by on May 9, 2012 in [, , , , , , , ]

The infectious hordes have invaded consoles and PCs everywhere.  The folks at TellTale Games released these ravaged masses to challenge gamers into fighting for humanity’s survival in The Walking Dead.  As reported in a previous post, the game is presented using comic book style graphics.  It follows the story of Lee Everett, a convicted murderer fighting for survival and redemption.  This is not your average survival horror bullet-hell adventure.  The graphic style and story is inspired by the Eisner Award-winning comic book series written by Robert Kirkman.  He has allowed TellTale access into his post-apocalyptic universe to swim in its cesspool.  The series is set up to resemble a television series with each installment presented as “episodes”. 

The introductory episode in the summertime series is called “A New Day”.  This seemingly over-optimistic title may refer to the main character’s potential opportunity for redemption of a life gone horribly wrong.  The episode begins as Lee is being transported via police car to a high security jail after being convicted of killing his wife.  As if things could not get any worse, the transport comes to an abrupt end when the police car slams into the first of many zombies.  When Lee Awakens into the bright new day he soon realizes he is one of the precious few surviving humans in a world overrun by decomposing dead who roam the earth with a ravenous hunger for the living.  Lee soon finds an abandoned home and a scared little girl, Clementine.  Lee assumes the role of protector and surrogate parental figure for the child as they hope to find a safe place to hide from the hordes.  Along the way they find others that are fighting to survive this new world.

This adventure is presented using a point and click style gameplay that TellTale is known for.   Players must investigate every corner of areas.  The gameplay breaks down into point and click controls that determine action choices and dialog choices.

Action choices determine which items and/or non-player characters the player will interact with.  The player aims the virtual crosshairs around their current location.  When images appear around the crosshairs the player will know that this location should be investigated to find clues.  The Xbox version uses the right thumbstick to move the crosshairs and assigns a different “A”, “B”, ”X”, or “Y” button for each different action that can be chosen.  The PC version uses the mouse to move the crosshairs and number keys to choose the desired action.  For example, the main character can explore around a deserted drug store.  There are people that bring up an image of a speech bubble to indicate that you can speak to them.  While looking over store shelves an image of a hand will appear to indicate that there is something (like an energy bar) that the player can grab.   Sometimes there will be more than one action that can be chosen.  There may be a door that can be looked at by choosing the eyeball icon or the door can be opened using the hand image.  This simple dynamic allows the player to flow between short cinematic moments in the game.  The timed action events required the tapping of the key or button that flashes on the screen in a quick time event.  The crosshairs are rimmed in red to indicate the dire situation and the player’s vision may be blurred by a poorly timed blow to the head.  The player must aim the crosshairs at the zombified creature until you find the white targeted area.  Here an action icon will appear.  A well-timed click of the correct action key or button will land a blow onto the enemy.  These creatures do not go down easily though.  It will take a series of successful blows to squish the life from these beasts.  My only difficulty in the Xbox controls occurs during these moments.  Trying to move away from the zombies using the left thumbstick while attempting to aim with the right thumbstick and clicking on the correct button to land the blow at the correct timing was a bit awkward at times. 

The dialog also offers choices that help the storyline progress. The “dialog wheel” style speech interactions allow the player to choose how honest or how misleading they want to be.  The main character is, after all, a convicted murderer.  He is tragically flawed yet open to opportunities for salvation.  He struggles to save himself and humanity from utter annihilation by infection.  Should Lee lie to hide his dark past? The main character can also hope brutal honesty will earn points with the people he meets along the way.  Some dialog choice events are timed.  The player must go with their first instinct before time runs out or the default highlighted choice will automatically be chosen.  Decisions may lead to subtle changes in the storyline or dramatic shifts in character interaction in the future.  The main path of the journey is fairly set.  The characters must continue their journey to pre-determined locations.  The player’s decisions are the most dramatic following high impact moments.  These are the moments when the player must make the tough decisions on who to save.  This first episode has a few such moments.  I am highly intrigued to find out whether these decisions will compound in each new episode.  If the player turns on hints for the game (the default setting), they will be informed when their dialog choice has an true impact on the person Lee is speaking with.  Hints will state that the character will remember Lee’s response which hints that this will affect the plot at some point in the future.  Some choices I made let me know that the character I was speaking with will remember I trusted them, for example.

These episodes should provide wonderful bite-sized adventures without the aimless wandering of endless fluff.  The storyline is streamlined to give the player a quality journey. The story introduced in this first episode is extremely intriguing. I am not a fan of most horror survival blood and guts fests but I like to solve problems and relate to the characters.  I need to root for the survival of the main character and love to save the day.  The Walking Dead “A New Day” already has me craving the next episode.  I want to see where my choices will lead me.  The characters are interesting and the graphics are very polished. There is something wonderful of watching the story unfold as well as personally helping to shape that story with critical actions and vocal interactions with others.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bloodless battle.  People searching for the fun in bashing an undead creature until their eyes bug out will get their fill.  These episodes have great potential to satisfy a wide variety of gamers.  There are problems and puzzles that will determine humanity’s ability to survive.   Brutal strength and destruction is also available for those who love that aspect.  This is a thinking person’s Armageddon.

A copy of The Walking Dead: “A New Day” was provided to The Married Gamers for review.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

One Comment on "The Walking Dead: “A New Day”"

  1. Marcia Webb May 9, 2012 at 8:57 am - Reply

    ” People searching for the fun in bashing an undead creature until their eyes bug out…”

    I <3 this!

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