Turn off the Lights

A Look Back at 2012: The Walking Dead Season 1

In a world where our attention spans seemingly don't last longer than a minute, the idea of an episodic game seems ridiculous. And in all reality, in the video game world it is very dangerous. When a single patch in games can cause a drop in players, hoping that players stay hyped on a game that is released over time can lead to massive disappointments as a series goes on. Of course, with The Walking Dead, a season pass would be bought up front for the entire 5 episodes, so no initial money would be lost. Yet games need word of mouth and time to become popular (unless they are CoD games of course), and any single hitch in that time frame of releases can be disastrous not only to profits, but to the morale of the team putting their soul into a game. But with all of the risk involved, TellTale Games manages to do something that very few could achieve: keep us coming back for more.

From the start of the first episode, we all know at least how part of this journey will go: there will be pain. It is hard to avoid in a game about a zombie apocalypse. Everyone you ever love is, or will be, gone. Of course we play as Lee, the character who has no one left. From the start, TellTale gave us no attachments to anything, hoping we can build up new feelings as the game continues on. And in all honesty, we do. Over the course of the season, the choices we are forced to make bring so much attachment to a world that isn't even real that we want to keep coming back. Of course, the number one comment for games that give us so much control and choice is that they are rarely open world. This is true of The Walking Dead; it is extremely linear. However that is excusable. The attachment isn't to how our choices change the game, but rather how we reach an unavoidable end. This is where the real brilliance of the game arises. The pain of a predestined end is overcome by our desire to make every moment our own.

Typically in a recap, mentions of character developments would be discussed, but I simply cannot do it. I only played the game once: as I would if I was truly there. Honestly I'm not sure how the dialogue changes between the different early choices, however I can assume we all met the same end regardless. I suppose what is most important here is that the character development exists the way that it does. Although there were some occasional hiccups in terms of choices for me personally (I remember once telling a guy to back down and having Lee almost kill the guy), overall, every choice was yours and it made Lee into the man you wanted him to be, or rather yourself. Overall, the first season brought everything an episodic game could, as well as a choice based game. It stripped away almost every bit of gameplay and made basic human interaction the game.

Perhaps what is most exciting about TellTale's choices with The Walking Dead is to move forward into a second season. And while a second season of such a wonderful game sounds incredibly appealing, I do have some fears. I'm curious about how they plan on presenting a completely new cast for the player to live with. With the SPOILER ALERT...

...death of Lee at the end of season 1, the entirety of that group has been left behind. Although we all want to know what happens to Clementine, I couldn't imagine her as anything besides a character we meet in the next season. To give us control of anyone left in the group wouldn't be true to that character. 

Even if they do manage to give us a new set of characters to enjoy, there is still an inherent problem with the idea of more episodes: it (seems like it) has all been done. In the first season, we met bandits. We chopped a man's leg off. We lost people we loved. We were betrayed. We made those tough choices about characters we had grown to care about. What I fear is that the second season won't be able to find anything to move the story forward. Of course, I could be completely wrong. There are plenty of paths that could be taken by TellTale as we move forward. My only hope is that they manage to make the next season as fresh as the first one was. I don't want just a rehash of the first season. I want risk taking. Every time a company takes a risk with a game, the game may end up poor. But at least the attempt for progress was made. I think TellTale has more great in them and I hope we get to see it with the next season of The Walking Dead. 


Meet the Author

Follow Us