The Walking Dead Episode 1 PSN review

The Walking Dead Episode 1 PSN review

Given that Telltale has a mixed record with taking treasured IPs and dressing them up as adventure titles, the first inclination of fans of Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comics will be to drag this opening episode of cartoonised adventure/role-playing out back and shoot it before it turns into Jurassic Park: The Game. But, as in all zombie movies, there’s a good argument for not rushing in and blowing this candidate’s brains out. Turns out, it’s one of the best episodic adventures we’ve played.

This first episode introduces a new character in protagonist Lee Everett – a brooding and immediately interesting man who you meet riding in the back of a cop car following an unknown felony. Then it gradually surrounds him with a supporting cast familiar to fans of both the TV show and comics. Oh, hey Glenn. Good to see you. Hershel – looking sharp, bro.

The real star of this episode though is a fresh face: Clementine, a plucky tween who you meet holed up in her tree house, having somehow survived with no parents to look after her. Since they’re probably shuffling around outside a mall murmuring about grey matter by now, it’s up to you to take care of her. Bust out the ‘parenting in the apocalypse’ self-help paperbacks.

I'm prepared to die for this collection of polygons and voice acting. Back off.

And just like that, you care. You care about your protagonist and his surrogate daughter, and you care about the world they’re in, having only seen it from the back of a cop car and as a staggering escapee in ravaged suburbia.

It’s a world that’s visually welcoming thanks to a Borderlands-esque hand-drawn quality and although the obvious dangers are perturbing, the tone’s less Resident Evil and more like watching the TV series with a mug of hot cocoa.

Telltale’s made efforts to depart with anything fiddly or archaic that one might expect from a traditional Monkey Island blueprint adventure, and they’ve paid off. The UI doesn’t invade the screen with extraneous info or force you to fiddle around in an inventory – gameplay’s simply a matter of exploring, puzzling and braining the brain-dead in almost QTE-style action sequences.

Most commonly you’re just talking to people, who react brilliantly to your conversation choices and remember your behaviour in later episodes, the consequences of which we’ve obviously yet to see. It’s not a pitch-perfect gameplay experience in terms of controls, all told. Lee’s movement can be clunky; so can the camera. But you’re often so engrossed in what’s happening that you either forgive these moments or ignore them. And at £3.99, it’s easy to be forgiving.