The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day Review
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A New Day proves to be Telltale Games' best outing in the adventure genre in recent memory--if not, ever. This is episodic gaming done right, and just like The Walking Dead TV show, we can't wait for the next episode.
- Very 'human' cast of characters
- Story is engaging, characters evolve nicely
- Great cell-shaded art keeps the game super stylized and pretty
- Slight audio/visual hiccups
[Editor’s note: We realize that Episode 1 – A New Day was released in April. We received review code a little late, and held this review to coincide with the launch of Episode 2. Look for Episode 2’s review tomorrow!]
The Walking Dead: Episode 1- A New Day is Telltale Games’ best outing in the adventure genre in recent memory—if not, ever. Regardless of if you’re a fan of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, which serves as the basis for Telltale’s series, there’s still a lot to take away from A New Day. If, however, you dislike zombies, a gripping narrative, Heavy Rain-like story progression, and the fact that you’ll be doing way more talking than shooting, then you might as well stop reading this review right now.
A New Day is the first of five episodes in the pipeline for the PlayStation Network. Players take control of Lee Everett, a man with a mysteriously troubled past. The episode starts with Lee being taken to prison. A hitch-hiking zombie bails him out of his sentence by introducing him—and the officer driving the car—to the end of the world.
This introduction does a great job of opening up one of the game’s biggest mysteries: what did Lee Everett do so wrong that he’s being brought to jail? If you play your cards right, you’ll have a little more information by the end of the episode. As usual, I’ll veer away from spoilers in my review, but I’ll have you know that Lee’s past makes him a deeper, more interesting character than your average ‘run-and-gun’ game protagonist.
The characters and story will keep you coming back and engaged with The Walking Dead’s episodes. Sorry, but if you came into this expecting anything more than engaging conversations, tough decisions, and downright gnarly consequences, you’ll be disappointed. But, if you came into this expecting (and wanting) all that, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the action takes center stage. Trust me; there are times when heat-of-the-moment decisions mean everything, and you’ll most probably end up second guessing yourself on responses you’ve chosen in certain conversations.
The Walking Dead game is defined by its story progression and character arcs. You choose your next move, how much your co-survivors know about you, who you choose to save in life-and-death situations, and which members of your group to befriend. But with the good comes the bad; you can’t make everyone happy. You’ll end up downright pissing some of your allies off, which will indirectly change the outcome of how the episode plays out. Story is everything in this game, and if I haven’t hammered my point home yet, let me make it simple: the tones, language, and moral grey areas brought forth by this narrative are a cut above most other games, at least in terms of maturity. I ended up legitimately caring for some characters –especially Clementine, a little girl you save at the beginning—and even regretting some of the things I said or chose. Games don’t often enough punish you for being an idiot, something The Walking Dead does in spades.
Gameplay is where The Walking Dead will be hit-or-miss for most people. In most situations, you move Lee around with the left analog stick while aiming your reticle across the environment with your right stick. At times, aiming your reticle might seem a little slow, but this is most probably designed that way in order to add to the high level of tension. Exploring environments takes some getting used to as well, but luckily, Telltale gives you the option to toggle a feature that subtly highlights objects and people you can interact with in the world with a white dot. The face buttons are used to select dialogue options during conversations, as well as selecting objects/people to interact with. For example, you can press the X button to speak to someone, or press Square to hand them an object. Other than that, all that’s really left are QTE sequences. I wasn’t kidding when I said that you’ll be doing more talking than shooting.
For example, at one point in the episode, a huge argument takes place ... (continued on next page)
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