San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Exclusive Look at The Walking Dead Video Game
Much like the origins of the zombie outbreak in Robert Kirkman’s epic The Walking Dead, gameplay details on Telltale Games’ game based on that series are shrouded in mystery. Telltale has recently released a few details about the story, and even without knowing much of anything about the actual gameplay, what we've seen so far is incredibly exciting.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead takes place in the same universe as the comics but follows a different set of characters than AMC's acclaimed television series. The game starts off near the beginning of the outbreak with the main character, Lee Everett, in the back of a police car being driven out of Atlanta, presumably to the prison from the books. Being unsure of why you’re in your current situation or whether you’re innocent or guilty (or even what you’re being accused of in the first place), the cop driving the car fills you in on some of the details. He gets so caught up in telling you the story that he doesn’t notice a mysterious figure in the distance staggering into the street. This, of course, ends up being a member of the zombie nation, and as you go careening into the undead monster, both Lee and the cop are thrown from the car. You now lay on the ground fading in and out of consciousness for an indeterminate amount of time; when you finally do come to, you go investigate the body of the police officer who appears dead, and well, you can probably imagine what happens from there.
After that incident you stumble out of the woods and into a residential area where you meet the other main character, a little girl named Clementine. Her parents were away and she was being watched by a babysitter when the world started going to hell, and since the outbreak began, she’s been staying in the treehouse in her backyard. Upon investigating the house, you see the room being illuminated by the light from a television, a bookcase shoved up against the stairs, and an answering machine with new messages on it.
You listen to the messages and realize they’re from Clementine’s mother. They start along the lines of “Hey honey, things are a little weird here so I hope you’re okay” and eventually end with “If you can hear this, I love you.” After listening to the messages, you hear a crash from the bookcase falling over and are faced with your first up-close encounter with the undead, the zombie babysitter. Considering that at this point Lee is unfamiliar with the ins and outs of zombie slaying, this initial encounter doesn’t go exceedingly well. After struggling to within an inch of your life, Clementine tosses you a claw hammer, which finally lets you take care of business.
Once you’ve taken care of the babysitter, Lee and Clementine leave the house to look for a safer place to stay. Eventually the pair wind up at a motor inn located in Macon, Georgia, where they set up camp and just try to survive, and that’s about all of the concrete details they’ve divulged at this point.
However, Telltale did manage to drop a few hints at how some of the mechanics of the game might work.
Your decisions will matter in The Walking Dead game! Player choice is something they put heavy emphasis on. If you choose to help someone or not, if you choose to tell someone you think their idea is stupid, if you choose to let someone die or save their life, all of these things will have repercussions in the world. Decisions you make early on could come back to bite you later- literally.
There will also be moral choices to be made. Since the world of The Walking Dead exists as a place where making a decision that’s not in a grey area is pretty much impossible, you won’t be getting a halo or growing horns at any point. However, in certain story-specific moments you’ll be tasked with making choices that could potentially alter future events, and while these choices will not completely change the over-arching story, smaller aspects of the game's story will play out differently based on what you decide.
The importance of telling stories through locations was another major aspect of the game that Telltale Games hammered home. When you first walk into any given area, all you might see is a disheveled room, but look a little deeper and you might see clues as to what happened there. The aforementioned scene at Clementine’s house is a perfect example because initially, when you're looking around the kitchen, it might not seem like much, but when you see a stool pulled over to the counter and the cabinet above wide open, that tells the tale of someone who was hungry and couldn’t quite reach high enough to get the food. It’s the little details like that they’re trying to put in every scene, and Telltale turned the locations themselves into characters within the realm of the game.
Given the fact that we literally know nothing about how the game actually handles, it’s hard to tell exactly how The Walking Dead is shaping up, but with a proven developer at the helm and a property that’s pretty much can’t miss, it’s impossible to not be excited. I’m itching with anticipation, and more information can’t come soon enough.
The Walking Dead will be released, according Telltale's Community Coordinator Jake Rodkin, “when it’s done.” Check out Dread Central's recent video interview with Rodkin from last month's San Diego Comic-Con below, and look for more on the game (hopefully) soon!
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