I had only heard about this Telltale mini-series around a week before its scheduled release, and I must say it was a very pleasant surprise. The reason this is labelled as a “mini-series” is because it’s 3 episodes in length, 2 less than the usual 5 episode format which Telltale typically employs where each episode lasts around 2 hours. However, I don’t see this as a bad thing. I believe it gives fans anticipating The Walking Dead Game Season 3 something to chew on while they wait, without outshining the actual third Season.
The Walking Dead is a story set in a post-apocalyptic world, and is heavily focused on the survival of the characters and the troubles they encounter with other survivors. Telltale has taken the concept of The Walking Dead, and converted it into an episodic series which is well-loved by many players. The game has already had 2 Seasons and a third one is on the way. Usually the Telltale stories don’t cross streams with characters who are in the TV Show – the most crossover we’ve had previously are short cameos. So this is a nice change, as the character of Michonne is one of the main characters of the show in recent seasons.
Telltale has taken a break from telling the story of Clementine, who is the protagonist in the previous games, and now tells the tale of Michonne. As for the concept, I think it’s an interesting choice. The character of Michonne isn’t explained in too much detail for those who watch the show; and for those who don’t, she’s interesting enough to hold her own for a 3 part series without requiring any prior knowledge. Obviously those expecting to see Clementine will be disappointed.
I found the story, as they usually are in Telltale games, to be really good. It does a great job with creating characters that are both likeable and unlikable. The interesting thing is that when the characters clash, both sides have compelling and logical arguments. In each of these little conflicts, the game lets you side with who you believe to be in the right. However, some paths are unavoidable; so when I worked out that it was compulsory to do an activity with a certain person, I just gave in so they wouldn’t be peeved at me if things got heated during our little excursion.
There isn’t really much to go on regarding where this fits into The Walking Dead’s timeline. In relation to the other games there’s really no clue, as the previous seasons aren’t related to this one. However, all we know with regards to the TV Show continuity is that Rick may be in the series at some point, as he was mentioned on the press release. But that’s about it.
You play as Michonne, obviously, as she tries to deal with her past coming back to haunt her. The memories of the people she has lost is the driving force throughout the episode, as players slowly watch her delve into a deep hole of regret and guilt. The game does a very good job at establishing all the classic character types in an apocalyptic situation. The obvious “friend” is also really well-defined and built up, and the player genuinely cares about them rather than seeing them as expendable.
There was one slight downside I found when making the choices in the game, and this was that throughout playing I was painfully aware the Michonne couldn’t die as the result of a choice. The reason being is that in episode one of a three-part series they wouldn’t be able to kill off the main protagonist, so this removed tension from the game when getting myself into risky situations. Obviously, you will die if you screw up on any quick time events, which I did a lot for the first 15 minutes. So when there was a choice to select who should do something potentially dangerous, you or your friend, then the choice was pretty clear as Michonne can’t get hurt just yet.
Another thing that this episode did very well was create a good, frightening set of villains. Otherwise, the tension would again be ruined if you weren’t scared of the antagonist, which would make the scenes with them almost pointless. Again, players get the choice to attempt to either reason and get them on your side, or to just be a downright knob. When expressing your hate for a character there are a few ways to go about it: you can ignore them and then act nervous, or use the more enjoyable choice which is to tell them to “do one” (but maybe with some more colorful language). I enjoyed this choice, as it does heavily influence the story instead of having a detour only to return to the same track. Seeing as there are only 3 episodes to tell a whole story, there can’t be any messing about. So this game has to get the formalities and introductions out-of-the-way pretty quickly. It’s not so fast that it seems rushed at all, as though certain things on the timeline are just being checked off the list, but rather it’s just the pace seems slightly more speedy compared to the previous Seasons.
The gameplay, as fans and those familiar with the Telltale style will know, is the same minimalist system that appears in the other games from this company. It may have just been the fact that it’s been a while since I have played a Telltale game, but there seemed to be a lot more quick time events in this game than others in The Walking Dead Game series. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it may prove to bea slight issue for those who play for the story and who aren’t too keen on QTEs.
Another feature that bares no change to its classic style is the aesthetics. The game still has that amazing cartoonish style that fans of The Walking Dead games enjoy. There is also no expense spared when it comes to the gore and the look of the walkers, both of which are very impressive. This bodes well as fans will no doubt enjoy seeing Michonne slicing the heads of walkers and generally causing havoc with her trademark machete.
The first episode is pretty much the make or break point of if you’re going to buy the rest of the series, so this is where the game has to impress you the most. With a series that is 5 episodes long, you may give the second one a go even if the first part fails to grab you. But with only 3 episodes, players will be wise not to purchase the rest if the first episode is anything near low quality. Thankfully, I really enjoyed the beginning to this series, as it does such a good job of establishing the story and the characters. I believe it will appeal to fans of the series most of all, but has merit for those who aren’t completely immersed in the Walking Dead franchise as well.
I’m going to give the first installment of Telltale’s latest mini-series a 8 out of 10. The reason being is that it kept the story strong, easily overcoming the expectation of some people that it would be bad due to Telltale “milking” the series. I admit, the idea of Michonne getting her own series is so thin you could stick a pen through it, but if anyone can give it depth it’s Telltale. The game is definitely something the fans can enjoy as they wait for The Walking Dead Season 3, and even something fans can enjoy as a standalone. The next episode is due to be released in March, and I am thoroughly looking forward to it.
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