I was introduced to Robert Kirkman in a comic book shop in Atlanta in 2004 while dropping a friend at the airport. That day I rediscovered a love for zombies that I hadn’t felt since I was a preteen watching Romero movies. The 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead still remains my favorite of his flicks. And that love hasn’t gone away since. I now own compendium one of the Walking Dead series and have a subscription to the new comics. I’m a zombie fanatic. The government issue zombie survival poster on my living room wall and the DVD collection on my shelf would in themselves alone clue most people to that.
When I heard that there would be a television show, I got excited. Very excited. And when the show came out, it did not disappoint. Well, leaving out a few of the best characters, adding a few more, and changing a good chunk of the story line kind of irritated me, but it gave me a new version of the events I had already experienced for myself in the books and I quickly learned to love it. Then I found out about the game.
I honestly went into this game fearing the worst. This last few years has been the age of the zombie for the geek world. Movies, books, games… if not for the glittering vampires it would have been a fantastic last few years. But it’s all been done. The running zombies get old. It’s all been done before. They had it right when they first started the zombie craze back in the old days. The horror of the dead rising from the grave and slowly sliding their rotted bodies in search of someone to eat. The pure dread of the basic story; the unrelenting robotic impulse of dead people to eat living people. And they do it slowly. To me, having a good 10 seconds to think how much being eaten is going to hurt while this rotting person that never blinks slowly bears down on me is much scarier than a giant tongue pulling me up a wall.
That’s what the Walking Dead: Episode One brings back. That fear. And it gives a glimpse into the past, a few weeks before Rick Grimes and his family camped outside Atlanta. In the story, you play as Lee, a convict getting transported to prison after a murder conviction. You are given choices, answers to comments or questions from other characters in the story. Your choices change the way that people act around you and determine whether they trust you or keep their distance.
After an accident, you find yourself free of police custody and in the house of Clementine, a young girl whose parents went out of town and left her in the care of a babysitter. After her babysitter turned, she spent a few days hiding out in her tree house in the back yard. You have to make a decision to try and leave the neighborhood right away or wait until it gets dark.
Along the way you end up at Hershel’s farm and during a scene you have to choose whether to save his son or another man’s son. I don’t want to reveal too much about the outcomes of either of these choices, because every interaction and choice leads to a different storyline. The game learns from you and changes the story as you go along. You can chose whether to make friends of the people you meet or say and do the wrong things and make them your enemies, willing to stab you in the back at the first chance.
On the next page we look at the graphics and details…