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The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day (PlayStation 3) artwork

The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day (PlayStation 3) review


"Like the comic and show, the game is really about relationships and tough decisions. The dialogue options are the heart of the game. You can choose how to react to most things characters say. Depending on the situation, you can lie or tell the truth, be hateful or helpful, insult someone or support them. Characters will remember the things you do and say to them, and later scenes will change depending on your decisions."



The Walking Dead is a unique take on horror comics. In a world suddenly overrun with zombies, the few remaining humans try their best to survive as long as they can. The future is bleak and there’s little hope that the world will ever return to normal. There’s no room for gun-toting, axe-swinging heroes in this scenario. The zombies vastly outnumber humanity and their numbers only grow. All humanity can do is try to survive, either by working together or by stepping on each other and taking what they need.

The video game adaptation of The Walking Dead follows one survivor, a man named Lee who has been convicted of the murder of his wife’s lover. Lee is on his way to prison in the back of a cop car when the vehicle suddenly crashes and its passenger loses consciousness. When Lee wakes up in the wreck, the world as he knew it has already ended. After a narrow escape from a group of zombies, Lee enters a house to look for help and finds a lone six-year-old girl named Clementine, whose parents were away when the zombies appeared. Deciding that he can’t leave the girl alone, he takes her with him and heads out into the world to look for safety.

From there, the story gets pretty dark and there are some remarkably disturbing and sad moments, depending on how invested you get. There’s a constant feeling of unease. It quickly becomes obvious that no character is safe. Nobody is too important to die.

The game follows the comic and not the TV show, so fans of the comic may recognize more of the characters than fans of the show. (I counted two characters who appear briefly in the comic but aren’t yet in the TV show at all.) This also means that comic fans already know the destinies of those characters, so they may appear to be in more or less danger than they otherwise would. Knowledge of the comic is optional, though. This game is a side story and stars mostly new characters, with the first episode actually taking place before the events depicted in the comic book. While you’re trying to survive the end of the world, series main character Rick is presumably in a coma in a hospital somewhere. It fits well into the Walking Dead world and does a great job of expanding that universe without relying on stories told elsewhere.

Aesthetically, the game matches the comics well. It uses an art style similar to the one employed by the comics, with thick lines and painting-like textures aplenty. All dialogue is fully voiced, and the actors do a great job. They capture the personality and spirit of both the new characters like Lee and familiar comic characters like Glenn. The style fits the dark tone of the story, as well. Animations are usually pretty convincing, but occasionally feel a bit too cartoonish. All in all, the atmosphere and tone are well maintained.

The adventure genre is a perfect match for The Walking Dead, which emphasizes characters before action. The game adeptly follows suit. There are puzzles to solve, things to examine, and areas to explore, but these aspects have been streamlined to the point of simplicity. There’s no pixel hunting or rubbing random items together to see what happens. The objects and the people with whom you can interact are marked (though these markers can be turned off in the Options menu, your cursor will still change while hovering over the objects in question), and most of them are important. If an item can be used with an object you’re pointing at, it will show up as an option in your command list. This means if you select a puzzle and are able to solve it at that point, you’ll know. The result is a guided experience, one that offers little challenge as you solve puzzles and move through the story. Puzzle segments seem to exist mostly so that they can provide a reason to spend time with non-playable characters.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a zombie game if you weren’t occasionally in danger of being eaten. Fighting with zombies is a struggle. Combat is QTE-based, occasionally growing more creative as your character fumbles with weapons or gets disoriented. You’re a non-action game character in a situation that requires action. It’s not very dynamic, but it does sometimes make you feel as if your character is about to die.

Like the comic and show, the game is really about relationships and tough decisions. The dialogue options are the heart of the game. You can choose how to react to most things characters say. Depending on the situation, you can lie or tell the truth, be hateful or helpful, insult someone or support them. Characters will remember the things you do and say to them, and later scenes will change depending on your decisions.

Early in the game, you end up on Herschel Greene’s farm (fans of the show and the comic alike will recognize Hershel). He’ll ask you some questions about some topics that are pretty sensitive for your character, and you can choose to be honest or lie about them. Your decision in this case doesn’t matter too much and won’t affect the game in any big way (unless Hershel returns in a later episode, which he might), but it’s interesting because you can compare your own decisions with those made by other players once the episode concludes. There are other, tougher decisions to be made later in the game that have more of an impact, but you’ll have to play the game yourself to find out what they are. The preview for the second episode changes depending on certain choices you make, and at least one critical moment will certainly have a major impact on events that are sure to transpire in a coming episode. It’s too early to tell exactly how much influence you’ll have on the ending of the final episode, but the finality of these decisions is a good sign. The multiple possible outcomes are as good a reason as any to play through the game a second time.

As a game, The Walking Dead doesn’t break down any barriers or set any benchmarks for the genre. Puzzles seem like a formality and there’s not much challenge. Where the game really excels is its story. You play to experience and affect the story, not to flex your brain. Both as a standalone game and companion to the comics, The Walking Dead builds (or adds to) a unique world full of interesting characters who are just trying to survive long enough to see the next day. The game does an excellent job of capturing the tone and feel of the comics and adapting it to work in a different medium. Personally, I’m eager to play Episode 2.

Rating: 8/10

Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (April 26, 2012)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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zippdementia posted May 02, 2012:

Hey, thanks for recommending this, RT. I just played through it tonite and it was well worth 5 dollars. Pretty awesome experience that I'll be looking forward to continuing on through future episodes. The preview at the end of the game for the next episode was amazing.

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