‘The Walking Dead’ peaks gamer interest

Columnist Samantha Tighe explores a world of zombies in a game inspired by the popular show.

Samantha TigheWell friends, it’s that time of year again. Summer has officially passed and the fall semester is already getting into full swing. Soon, the first homework assignments will be due, upcoming papers will be announced and the appointed chapter readings will be ignored or put off until the last minute. There is one ray of sunshine, aside from the influx of people returning to Temple, and that is the entertainment. The fall brings with it new television shows, new seasons, and most importantly, new video games. For some of you horror fans (or rather, zombie appreciators), you may have caught a few episodes of “The Walking Dead” series that has been airing on AMC, which is adapted from a comic series by Tony Moore.

Although the show has had its high and low points, last season’s finale was pretty good and the third season is scheduled to air in October. If you can’t wait a couple more weeks, I have a solution for your rotten-flesh zombie cravings – “The Walking Dead” video game.

The people at Telltale Games have hunkered down and created a compelling video game series based upon “The Walking Dead” lore. Players control Lee Everett – a formerly incarcerated man with an ambiguous background who must survive in a world where the dead walk and crave flesh. Early into his journey he finds Clementine, a young girl who has been surviving on her own due to the absence of both of her parents. The duo quickly become inseparable, as their goals of survival become intertwined.

“The Walking Dead” video game promotes itself with action and adventure. Players control Everett as he meanders around predetermined environments. Through interactions with the various people Everett meets, players are able to shape how the world views them. Personalities can be helpful and friendly, standoff-ish, or even the strong, silent type. Players will also notice that certain objects in the world can be manipulated – some help drive the story, others give the players clues to help them form their own opinions about what is happening, and some improve relations with members of the same group. Every player’s decisions shape the game’s outcome.

Another incentive to play, aside from a few action-button sequences, game controls are fairly easy to comprehend and master. Be warned though, it is a zombie game, so expect a decent amount of gore – some of the scenes and actions I had to play through were even making me a bit squeamish.

There’s a reason “The Walking Dead” game is generating so much buzz – the storyline is absolutely riveting. The people Everett and Clementine meet have their own families and goals, with survival being of the upmost importance, of course. Also, during any playthrough, Lee will be forced to make several gut-wrenching decisions – choices that not only test the morals players want Lee to uphold, but also choices that can alienate others with certain members of the survival group, with some even deciding who lives and who dies. Players are also exposed to the horrors that accompany the zombie apocalypse.

If you are familiar with the general “Walking Dead” universe, you’ll be pleased to hear a couple key characters make cameo appearances during Lee’s story, a sign that what is occurring is tangled with what else is happening across the United States.

Like typical Telltale fashion, the entire game is broken up into five episodes, each released weeks apart. The first episode, “A New Day,” was used more like a taster of what is to come. The player is introduced to Lee and is filled in on what is occurring and, sadly, players already are forced to make a couple of hard choices. The second episode, “Starved for Help,” was one that was more emotionally disturbing. Without ruining it, there’s a horrible twist that, although it can be seen a mile away, is troubling. After finishing that episode, you can’t help but dwell on what occurred.

Now, I know Telltale’s recent productions have been a bit underwhelming, especially the “Jurassic Park” travesty that they released a couple months ago, but the developer actually did something right this time. “The Walking Dead” game does an amazing job in creating characters that are likeable and some that you can’t help but hate. At the same time, though, players have to face reality – is it worth keeping a person you hate around if it meant Everett and Clementine will live?

“The Walking Dead” game is available on a variety of platforms – it can be downloaded from Telltale’s official website for PCs and Macs, purchased for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and is even available for later generation iOS devices (like the iPhone and iPad). The flat purchase fee can be considered a season pass – buying the entire game allows episodes to be downloaded as they are released.

*Only two episodes were released upon submission of this article – the third is due out sometime this month and is titled “Long Road Ahead.”

Samantha Tighe can be reached at samantha.tighe@temple.edu.

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