Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games
System: Xbox 360
Release Dates (Episodes One-Five): April-November 2012
Telltale had been in the business since 2004, but when they released TWD, they started to get widespread attention and acclaim. Their popularity exploded, and The Walking Dead franchise staked yet another claim in its success in multiple media.
TWD was a surprise hit that won many Game of the Year awards from many publications and websites, as well as other rewards. Does it live up to the hype?
The basic gameplay of TWD and Telltale’s many other games is basically the same. They are point-and-click, conversation-driven games with the odd (sigh) QTE thrown in for good measure. A key difference between Telltale’s games and other games with branching conversations is that they are timed. If you don’t pick an option in time, your character will remain silent. As the games themselves tell you, silence is a viable option. This is different from, say, BioWare games where you can just let the game sit there while you pace trying to make a decision.
In TWD‘s Season One, you play as Lee Everett, an African-American university professor disgraced by his murder of a state senator who slept with his wife.
The player’s choices help shape Lee by way of how he treats other characters. One option is known as “Scumbag Lee” by the fanbase.
I became interested in the game because The Walking Dead TV show was having possibly its best season yet in its adaptation of the saga that introduced the “Governor”, one of the comic’s most infamous villains. So, I rented Telltale’s TWD.
April 19th, 2013: Episode One: A New Day
At the game’s outset, Lee has been convicted and was being driven to prison.
April 20th, 2013: The friendly cop driving the car tries to make small talk with Lee until he runs someone over in the road. The car crashes, killing the cop and knocking Lee out. He woke up hours later, still handcuffed in the back of the car. He realized that he seriously hurt his leg in the crash before he escaped from the vehicle.
He found the body of the cop and found the keys to the handcuffs. When Lee heard the cop groan, he asked if he was all right, but the cop attacked him. Lee found the cop’s shotgun and a shell nearby, which he used to kill the cop. This was Lee’s first encounter with the walking dead.
Lee saw someone standing on a hill nearby. He called out to them, but a group of walkers approached him, so he left the scene of the car wreck. To elude the walkers, he climbed into someone’s backyard and escaped into the house, where he found water and a beeping noise. An answering machine was the source.
The first message was from a woman named Diana, who asked a woman named Sandra to babysit her daughter, Clementine. Diana and her husband Ed were staying in Savannah for a vacation. Their return was delayed when Ed was attacked by “some crazy guy”.
The next message had Diana say that she and Ed were under quarantine and were not allowed to leave.
In the final message, Diana tearfully asked Clementine to call the police. Diana said that she loved Clementine before the message ended.
After Lee heard a child’s voice from the kitchen, he found a walkie-talkie, and the child talked to him with it. She told him that he had to be quiet because he was making too much noise.
She informed him that she was Clementine, age eight, and that she knew her parents were in Savannah.
She hid in her treehouse until Lee was attacked by a walker. Clementine actually unlocked the back door with a hammer, which Lee used to finish his attacker off. The walker was actually Sandra.
Clementine awaited her parents’ return, but Lee knew that they could not just stay in the house. He promised to take care of her until they found her parents.
Depending on you decide to leave, when they leave the house, they encounter Shawn Greene and Chet or Shawn Greene and Andre Mitchell. In the latter scenario, Chet has already been killed by a walker and Shawn and Andre are looking for the creature that killed him. Regardless, Shawn/Chet or Shawn/Andre take Lee and Clementine to the Greene Family Farm, where they meet Shawn’s father… Hershel Greene. Hershel kindly tends to Lee’s wounded leg and tells him the he and Clementine can sleep in the barn with “another displaced family of three”.
Before she goes to sleep, Clementine admits that she misses her parents. She asks Lee how far Savannah is from the farm, and Lee says that it’s very far away. Lee has a nightmare about killing the senator, but is woken up by a man who tells him to get up. This is Kenny. Kenny wound up staying at the farm with his wife Katjaa and their adorable son, Ken Jr., most often known as Duck, because trouble slipped off of him like water off a duck’s- yes.
Lee admitted to Kenny that Clementine was not his daughter, which Kenny accepted.
Kenny believed that the National Guard would solve everything. Failing that, Kenny wanted to return to his home in St. Lauderdale, where he had a boat.
When Lee talks to Hershel, he will ask about Lee’s family. He will reveal that his parents and brother are in Macon.
Disaster struck when Shawn tried to work on the fence around the farm. His legs were pinned beneath a tractor, and he was encroached upon by walkers. Duck was gaping at the sight of a pinned Shawn, until the boy was grabbed by a walker. You can choose to have Lee try to save Shawn or Duck.
I chose to save Duck instead of Shawn, and Hershel was pissed.
Shawn dies even if you try to save him, but Duck lives.
Unlocked Out of the Frying Pan, Adventures in Babysitting, In Your Charge, and A Rock and a Hard Place.
I wonder if that Chet guy that was with Shawn is going to be OK.
Because this game is based on the original The Walking Dead comic book, that means no Daryl. Sigh.
Hershel ordered everyone to leave while he buried Shawn. Kenny decided to tell Lee that he and Clementine could go with them to Macon. Lee and Clementine rode with the family in Kenny’s truck.
They ran out of gas by the time dusk rolled around. Duck unknowingly called attention to a walker, leading to the group getting cornered in front of the… Everett Pharmacy Drugstore.
However, they were rescued by a gun-toting woman named Carley, who was with Glenn Rhee. Glenn called the group into the drugstore while Carley shot at the walkers.
The group made it into the drugstore, but another woman, Lilly, and her father, Larry, took issue with Carley leaving the drugstore, rendering it vulnerable to attack.
A bit of a spoiler: Lilly and Larry are certainly pieces of… something. That’ll be fun when it comes time to do my Final Thoughts.
Since Duck was sprayed with walker blood from one of Carley’s shots, Larry immediately leaped to the conclusion that the boy was bit and decided that they should kill him. Kenny went into papa bear mode and threatened Larry.
You can have Lee side with Kenny or Larry (or say nothing, you feeb). In the former scenario, Lee can suggest that Kenny try to knock Larry out, but Larry is a helluva lot bigger than the more average-sized Kenny, and is laid out with one punch.
Before that conflict could be resolved, Clementine was beset upon by a walker. Carley shot the walker, but the noise drew more walkers to the gate of the drugstore. Larry exploded in anger at Carley. However, the outburst made him fall to his knees as he succumbed to terrible chest pain. Lilly explained that her father needed nitroglycerin pills for his heart problems. Lee enacted a plan to get into the pharmacy section to get the pills. Kenny went in line with the plan, and told a man named Doug to act as a lookout while Glenn went on a fuel run to a nearby motel. (Glenn is the best.) Clementine gave him one of her walkie-talkies for communication.
What follows is some pretty great storytelling. Remember how Lee told Hershel that his family lived in Macon? Well, the Everett Pharmacy is, indeed, owned by his family.
Lee is forced to acknowledge what has happened to his family in the outbreak when he goes to look for a way into the pharmacy with Clementine. There’s blood on the floor of the pharmacy office. When he finds an old family photo, he tries to tear it up so that the others won’t realize that he’s the Lee Everett, but Carley knew. She warned him not to cause any problems for the rest of the group.
Lee tried to move the desk that barred the way into the pharmacy with Clementine’s help, but she hurt her finger in the process. Lee gave her a band-aid before he tried to open the pharmacy door, which was locked.
After Glenn returned with fuel, Lee sought the keys to the pharmacy. He went outside with Doug to survey the area, and Lee was confronted with another horrible truth: his brother was dead and had already turned. Lee saw his brother’s body pinned under a pole.
I can be a little distracted at times, so this was when it really cemented for me that the Everett Pharmacy belonged to Lee’s family…
The game doesn’t outright tell you that the young man was Lee’s brother. You have to notice it for yourself.
Lee’s brother worked at the pharmacy as well. Lee went over, mercy killed his brother, and got the keys from his pocket.
Ooh, Carley likes Doug~
Glenn is kinda cool.
Unlocked It’s Just One Bullet.
I was surprised at how Kenny brought up how we only focused on trying to save Duck, not Shawn. I thought we could only save one of ’em.
That moment will be on that Hershel will replay over and over again in his mind.
Glenn was a pizza delivery boy. Does that explain the cap?
He’s a pretty cool guy, eh evades zombies delivers pizzas isn’t afraid of anything.
Glenn being a pizza delivery boy reminds me of this hilarious article. One of the comments even mentions Glenn and how well he adjusted to the zombie apocalypse because of his experiences on the job.