You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t at the very least heard of the Walking Dead, and if you aren’t aware of the Robert Kirkman comic you’ll have at least had to cycle through endless raging Facebook posts regarding TV’s premier zombie show. It’s essentially the perfect franchise to spawn endless amounts of games from, and while other titles have taken off from the main storyline, The Escapists: The Walking Dead is taken directly from the source material. Ever wanted to lead an 8-Bit Rick through West Georgia Correctional Facility? Well, here’s your chance.
On the surface The Escapists: The Walking Dead isn’t quite the thriller you’d want it to be. The game takes you through five of the Walking Dead’s most recognizable locations, but you aren’t just tasked with mashing away at endless zombies, but rather you complete tasks and daily chores to keep your team happy and keep away zombies. Chores include making it to daily headcounts and cleaning dirty clothes, and while these don’t sound like interesting events to take part in, messing with your daily routine decreases survivor morale and increases your chances of experiencing zombie outbreaks in your safe zone.
When you aren’t doing these tasks you’ll be working towards main objectives, such as locating the generator in the prison or clearing Hershel’s barn at the Greene’s farm. The game doesn’t restrict you with how and when you need to complete these quests, so you’re free to take as long as you want to prepare. One of the best part of the game for me was the ability to explore outside of your safe zone and experience some of the locations seen in the comic and show for myself. While the zombies are numerous, there’s plenty of hidden locations that boast useful items that are worth looking for, and if you’re in the business of collectables there’s hidden comics throughout the levels to collect too.
If you prefer you can take other survivors with you while exploring, which increases your chance of survival. The downside however is that The Escapists: The Walking Dead isn’t a game built for combat, so staying out of trouble is the preferred method of venturing through this undead adventure. The clunky 8-bit characters are easily taken out, so when you do have to take on the hoard preparation is key, and this is what you spend most of your time doing between your daily routines. Drawers, dropped backpacks, dead bodies; they could all have useful items that could help towards the endgame. Finding craft sheets to help you work out what items can be utilized together is vital for your survival, and making stronger and better weapons, items and outfits for you and your allies is the only way you’ll make it out alive.
When you’re not completing your daily chores or working towards your main objective, there’s endless amounts of sidequests to complete. Unfortunately, these are almost always fetch quests, seeing you send Rick after pointless items, such as nail files or chocolate. Sometimes these are located in easy to reach places, such as peoples bedrooms, but others are dotted around the map, usually being held by a specific walker that you have to kill before you can retrieve said item. These aren’t fruitless tasks, as completing them gives you money to spend on useful items available from wondering venders, but they are extremely repetitive, and you’ll find no joy in being sent after countless pointless items.
Rick’s stats can be improved, so when you aren’t fetching supplies for your team, taking your hero to the gym or setting him up in the games room can help improve his speed, intelligence and strength. Doing too much however will tire him out, so spreading these exercises across several days will help keep you in top shape, but attending your daily meals and having well-timed naps helps bring Rick’s energy levels back up so you can keep going. It’s continuous time resource management, and while it doesn’t sound fun on the surface, once you get into the experience you waste hours trying to balance the daily life of an apocalyptic survivor with the problems of a leader with an ultimate goal.
The Walking Dead can rarely be described as cute, but the Escapists take on the franchise is just that. From the tiny 8-bit heroes and zombies to the familiar environments recreated with a nostalgia inducing old school vibe, it’s adorable through and through. Even the most bleak situation are toned down; get eaten by a walker? Wake back up in your bed and give it another go. It may be the Walking Dead, but it’s not the dark experience you’re accustomed to.
All in all The Escapists: The Walking Dead is a great title that remains true to the source material, and one that fans of both the Escapists and the Walking Dead will love. Whether the daily grind of washing dirty clothes and working out in the gym will be for everyone else is another question, but this unusual and unique take on one of TV’s bests is at the very least a fun and challenging RPG.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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