XBLA Review: The Walking Dead: Episode 1: A New Day

Can you survive the Walking Dead?

The Walking Dead is Telltale’s most mature game to date, who’d have thought this would be from the same company that brought us episodic gaming of Sam and Max, Strong Bad and Wallace and Gromit. The game puts you in the role of Lee Everett, a mysterious character who is riding in the back of a police car accused of murder, but when the cop crashes into the woods, Lee awakes to find a zombie outbreak has taken over….

Shortly he makes it to a house where he finds a little girl who has been hiding in the treehouse for a few days, before the babysitter comes back to eat Lee’s brains. A quick bashing later and the duo meet up with some other survivors who then take Lee and the girl to a farm for the night. This is very different to the traditional point-and-click style games of past Telltale outings you can still move and talk to people, but some responses can only been answered quickly, while the real difference is that you have to make choices between life and death of the characters around you, so I imagine that future episodes will be reliant on your game save to adjust the story for those who survived/died in Episode 1.

It’s an interesting idea and there are also repercussions to the things you say, you can decide to tell the truth about your past or lie through your teeth, some characters will also remember things you said or done, for example I chose to save one character and blame someone else for running away from saving the other. You’ll come across some interesting characters; just don’t get too attached as you’ll probably have to choose between some of them before the end.

Quick-time events make an appearance and they are very well done, like pressing A at the right time to blow a zombie’s head off or to bash its brains in. There’s a pretty brutal moment near the end of the episode that was gruesome and sad at the same time, you’ll understand what I mean when you get to it…but it pretty much made the entire experience memorable for it. If there’s a downside, it’s that it’s over pretty soon and you’ll be wanting more…unfortunately, you’ll have to wait till next month for Episode 2.

In terms of presentation, The Walking Dead has a realistic, yet cel-shaded look to it that matches the source material of a comic book, but maintaining the gore and realism of a zombie outbreak. Characters look decent and the voice-acting is really believable, while the soundtrack also does a nice job in setting the mood. There are a few framerate issues during the game, but luckily it doesn’t hinder the experience that much.

The Verdict

The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day is a great start to the series. It sets the mood perfectly for Episode 2, but also makes me want to go back and see what would happen if I saved a different character or reacted differently in certain situations, which will impact the following episodes. Telltale are onto a winner here with brutally gory moments, memorable characters and a setting that is believable. Roll on Episode 2….