The Walking Dead – The TellTale Definitive Series is a collection of season’s 1-4 of the main game as well as “400 Days” and “The Walking Dead: Michonne”.  It’s the gaming equivalent of buying a series box set of a show you might love… Like, maybe The Walking Dead? There’s well over 30 hours of adventure and depending on your in-game decisions, you might need to play it through again at least once.

I have a confession to make, though.  I was never a huge fan of TWD the show.  I watched the first season shortly after it’s conclusion because it was highly recommended by all of my friends, enemies, the grocery store clerk, the gas station attendant and probably my 85 year old dad as well.  After the last episode of the season I thought it was okay. Not bad. Not great. It didn’t evoke the fervor in me that seemingly gripped everyone else I knew at the time. I sure as hell didn’t see the pop culture phenomenon to come with spin-off shows, shows about the show and of course, a video game series.

A long time has passed since my initial viewing of that first season, so I came into this game collection a relative TWD neophyte.  So with that said, on to the review:

Something has caused what is without a doubt the apocalypse.  The dead now walk the earth feasting on the living indiscriminately and humanity is rapidly falling into extinction.

You start Season One as Lee Everet, a man convicted of a murder you’re not given too much deail about at the onset.  As Lee, you experience the beginning of the apocalypse and the struggle for humanity’s survival. Other characters will lead plots on the following seasons and some character’s stories are revisited.

The Definitive options allow for a more comic-ink style called ‘Graphic Black’.  I played the first season switching between the 2 options but in the end I kept the setting on as I’d grown accustomed to the look of the game.  There is a performance hit, but if you have discrete graphics available, it won’t be much of an impact. If you’re playing on something with say intel graphics, you should keep this off and the resolution low.  It’s very playable. At least the early seasons are.

Sound is well done.  The haunting murmurs of distant zombies, their dragging feet, random gunfire miles away and the gory slurping of entrails being consumed are all well represented.  The acting ranges from great to pretty good over all, so the stories are well presented. These games were enjoyable with headphones and with a 5.1 home theater setup.

Playing point-and-click adventures hasn’t changed in a big way from my King Quest / Quest for Glory days of my mouse-clicking youth, but playing with a controller on my couch made these TWD feel more like a console game, a very slow placed one.  There are times when you need to mash the buttons furiously to fight off a walker or pull something heavy but typically you’re wandering around, searching for an item that you need to progress further. Some solutions were so well layered, that they stumped me.  Partially because I guess what I needed wasn’t obvious to me, or because I didn’t have the foresight to know what obstacle to leave for a later time when a new item presented itself. Sometimes you just have to move on and a solution might fall in your lap.

There is a lot of content in the Definitive Series, Over 50 hours if you play at a casual pace as I did, and that’s just one playthrough.  Decisions made in the game could cause different characters to grow in the plot while some get left behind (or die). It practically forces multiple playthroughs for the characters whose stories were cut short by your decisions along the way.  My feeling though was that choices felt very heavy-handed. You repeatedly had to choose who lives or dies in a sudden matter of moments. If you liked both characters, there was difficulty in living with those decisions. Sure, you could save the other in a future run, but at the moment and for the rest of your current run, they’re gone.  This made me take long breaks between plays, simply because the content in the game is overall very stressful. I guess the apocalypse would be though, wouldn’t it?  

In the end, I enjoyed TWD – The TellTale Definitive Series.  It’s a very depressing experience and I mean that in the most complimentary way.  The zombie apocalypse wasn’t sugar-coated but there were genuinely tender moments sprinkled throughout the series.  I’m not sure if I’d replay these games again as my backlog is collecting dust. I’ll probably just live with my choices, as it should be.

The Walking Dead – The TellTale Definitive Series
Publisher:Epic Games