Why Walking Dead Fans Need a Video Game Console
by Andy Bartsch
If you’re a Facebook user (if you’re reading this, we know you are) every Sunday between the months of October and March, your feed is flooded with statuses pertaining to The Walking Dead. Since its debut in October 2010, millions of viewers have tuned to AMC every Sunday at 9 P.M. to watch former Sheriff Rick Grimes and his companions endure the zombie apocalypse. The show has become so popular, AMC has even started not only a spinoff show, which is currently in production, but every new episode is followed by yet ANOTHER show where all people do is TALK about this week’s episode, appropriately dubbed: “The Talking Dead”. The show is on top of the world, but there is so much more to it than just the TV show.
Currently The Walking Dead is on its fifth season and still going strong. Despite its popularity, there are several viewers who know nothing about its source material: a comic book series of the same name. In 2003, Image Comics published The Walking Dead #1, written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore. Despite its small print run, it quickly became an instant hit and sold well throughout the 100+ issue run. Readers loved how it didn’t pull any punches: the gore, the violence, the nudity, the swearing. They were asking themselves, “What happens next?” All they knew for sure was one thing; No one is safe.
As the comics and the show subsequently, got more and more popular, the property of The Walking Dead streamed into other venues such as books, toys, clothes and the like. One of the mediums that seemed perfect for The Walking Dead was video games. In 2012, Telltale Games released the first downloadable episode of The Walking Dead: The Game for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (not to confused with the notorious Walking Dead: Survival Instinct based on the TV show). In the game, you take the role of Lee, a college professor who is on his way to prison but it is saved, in a manner of speaking, by the zombie apocalypse. Lee finds shelter in an abandoned house, where he meets Clementine, a very young girl in search of her missing parents. Lee becomes her guardian and from there the game revolves around the decisions you make and how you interact with the characters. As a result, the game has several endings and tons of replay value.
Once again, The Walking Dead hit gold and the game was a huge success. So much so that once the first “season” was completed, it was ported to the Nintendo Wii as well as to several mobile devices. Recently, Telltale just finished their second season of games and plans to release a third in late 2015. So it goes without saying, there is a lot of The Walking Dead related content out there.
I actually lost interest and stopped watching the television show mid season four. It seemed inferior and very watered-down compared to the comics. There were so many plot points and characters that were never touched upon in the show. Meanwhile, in the show, they add extra characters that were never in the comics “to bulk up the story”, only to never be used as any real plot points and then killed off. The only character made for the television show who seemed to go anywhere was Daryl and at this point, he has become so popular, he’s virtually invincible.
AMC knows that at this point (even though it would be a gutsy move) that killing off Daryl would drastically reduce its viewers. Look at it this way; in 2014, rumors starting circulating that a plot point in season five would be Daryl’s sexual orientation. In a show about a zombie apocalypse, why anyone’s sexual orientation should matter is beyond me. Whether it was true or not, AMC and Kirkman quickly debunked the rumors that Daryl (played by Norman Reedus) was gay. after seeing several negative comments posted online. Way to be progressive, folks.
So, yeah, I stopped watching the show, but I kept reading the comics and playing (and REPLAYING) the games. I didn’t start reading the comics until shortly before the TV show started, but I was able to catch up. It was around issue 105 when I found myself getting irritated but the repetitive nature of the comic. The group moves to a new area, they meet someone who’s bad, people die, the group moves to a new area…rinse, lather, and repeat. On occasion, there might be a zombie or two. I really became irritated by Negan, the current villain of the comic and his one dimensional character. He pretty much was another version of another villain from earlier in the story; the Governor. The only difference between the Governor and Negan; Negan was slightly more intimidating and he swore to the point where you couldn’t take him seriously. Even the sailors were like, “Geez, dude, take it %$#@in’ easy.” So, with bland characters and repetitive stories with nothing to shake up the story, I stopped reading.
So that left me with the games, the only The Walking Dead content I continue to pursue. To this day, I still say the Telltale video game series continues to be the best version of TWD to date. Granted, this is all opinion based, but hear me out. The games have the best example of character development, and being a video game, you take part in completing that development. If you want Lee, the protagonist, to be a loyal and wise leader, you can play him that way. If you want him to be a complete and total jerk and neglect the little girl you’ve sworn to protect, the game gives you that option. As stated before, the gameplay revolves around the choices you make. The real fun is in the replayability and seeing how each character acts out (and who lives) based on different decisions you make.
The game is also insanely well written. I rarely ever have an emotional connection to characters in video games, but the game does such a great job of setting up its characters, you really want to take care and protect these people. You might even find yourself getting choked up and shedding a few tears near the end. There are even a few moments were I jumped out of my seat. Why wouldn’t I? It is a horror game after all.
The graphics are nicely rendered (for the most part). The visuals are based around the slightly cartoon-like style of Tony Moore, who illustrated the first few issues of the comics. This style works very well with the character models, particularly on their facial expressions. The animation on the characters is fluid and smooth. The zombies (ahem, excuse me, walkers) are very freaky looking with their blank eyes and skull-like features.
I just finished playing season 2 for the first time and not only am I eagerly awaiting the release of season 3, I plan on replaying the game from the beginning to see what alternate story choices I could have made. If you’re a Walking Dead fan and have not played these games, I highly recommend you try it. You don’t need to be a hardcore gamer to play, it’s very much point and click. Even if you die several times, the game lets you retry almost right were you made your error. The game is available on all current generation platforms and can be purchased in any app store. So with it on so many platforms, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t play! Get on it!
Andy Bartsch is our newest writer here at GGR! Let's all welcome him by liking his first article! Click the heart at the bottom of the page.
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