The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day
feels much more like a classic adventure game, at least more like one than Telltale's last two titles, Jurassic Park
and Law & Order
. While still not standard adventure stuff like their older releases, I feel like The Walking Dead
is a good middle ground between the interactive-movie that was JP
and the classic gameplay style.
For instance, you have a lot more freedom of movement in The Walking Dead. Heck, you can actually control where you want to move instead of just selecting locations, but there aren't nearly the number of inventory and puzzle problems you would expect in a classic adventure title. That's not to say there aren't any. There are a lot of times when you will need to hunt for the right tool for the job, but the standard inventory+verb setup is pretty much gone and replaced with a much cleaner and minimalist control scheme that will place the inventory items right at your fingertips if you are hovering over something where it makes sense to try an inventory item. But more on that later.
What makes The Walking Dead good, be it the comics or the TV series, is that it isn't really a story about the zombies. The zombie apocalypse is just a backdrop to put humans in extreme situations and show how they behave when there is the constant threat of life. Well, A New Day continues that tradition.
Your character, Lee, was in the backseat of a police car, leaving Atlanta, on the way to a prison, when he saw his first walker. The creature caused the police car to fly off the road. It isn't long before he has to take one out in order to live, and it isn't long before he finds a scared little girl whose parents are out of town and the babysitter... well, lets just say the sitter isn't really keeping an eye on little Clementine anymore.
While it doesn't really take much for the girl to trust Lee, as the duo meets up with other groups, your decisions in what you reveal, both about Lee's past and your relationship with Clementine, can really change the way people feel about you. As a result, while there are inventory-based puzzles, The Walking Dead game is mainly about the dialogue. In other words, the human interaction.
While not every conversation you have is important, there are definitely some key discussions, especially when people are asking about Lee and Clementine's relationship. There are also a few times when you will have to make some tough choices, including, but not limited to, deciding which of two characters that are being attacked you will help.
While there are some obvious consequences to some of these choices, there are also some subtle ones as the characters you are talking to will convey very different attitudes towards you if they don't like your answers or feel like you are hiding something. This really made for a solid gameplay experience, and one that made me want to replay the game to see how the different choices played out. Unlike most typical adventure games, I felt like there were actual consequences to my choices and the decisions I made would have lasting effects in the future episodes.
Of course, just how lasting those choices are is yet to be seen, but Episode 2 - Starved for Help isn't that too far away.