A friend recently gave me the gift of The Walking Dead on Steam. Gabrielle has been playing the game and really likes it. I, however, am getting a little burned out on the whole zombie genre. It’s been done so many different ways in the last several years, and oftentimes done poorly, that I’m not sure what can come out of the genre.
The Walking Dead is the exception for me. The show, the comics, and the game all tell a very human story in a world gone bad. Zombies are the hook, but they aren’t the end game. The Walking Dead is, of course, a double entendre; while, yes, the zombies are dead and walking, it is the humans that are trying to hold out and survive in such a hopeless situation who are the true walking dead.
What developer Telltale Games has done with the The Walking Dead is really nothing short of incredible. I don’t personally think that The Walking Dead is a great game, but I do think it is a well-crafted and immersive story and experience.
The reason? The characters are believable, and you’re not left to hate or love them too long. Each character will do things you don’t agree with and each character will do things that you find admirable, but each thing that the characters do seems believable based on their situation.
And holding all that together is an 8-year-old girl that you’re sworn to protect. Clementine is of the greatest video game characters to grace the screen. She is your conscience, and you find yourself doing whatever it takes to protect her or to help her keep her innocence. Any scene where I had to protect Clementine I found to be more nerve wracking than nearly any other. Maybe it’s because I have a daughter of my own now, but I find myself legitimately caring for this virtual being.
I’ve found that as the episodes progress (and I’ve played 1-3 so far, but they’re so emotionally draining that I need to stop for a couple of days) I’m playing the game not as a character, but as what I would do if thrust into the situation of taking care of a little girl during the apocalypse. Could I save her innocence whilst preserving her life? As the episodes go on, it’s getting harder and harder.