Point and click adventures were once the pinnacle of the video game experience. A lot has happened since the hilarious adventures of Guybrush Threepwood and his journey to the mysterious Monkey Islands. Somewhere along the way we lost a beloved development studio, Lucasarts. However, it was not the end, something yet remained in the form of indie developers Telltale Games. The early days were tough and it wasn’t until 2012 when they redefined the genre with the critically acclaimed The Walking Dead series that they became a household name.
Keeping in line with the Comic series way of doing things Telltale Games third instalment is a mini-series that tells a whole new story. A story the fans of the comic series have been chomping at the bit for. Where did Michonne go at the end of Volume 21, All Out War? It would seem she just went her own way still haunted by delusions of her past. At her absolute lowest point she makes the acquaintance of Pete. Three weeks later she’s aboard what I presume is the same fishing boat she steps off when we see her again in the comics.
Straight off the bat this is a very different Telltale experience. Normally prominent characters are just one of the many you meet as the game progresses. This time you are Michonne, arguably one of the most complex characters the franchise has to offer. There’s an air of authenticity within the excellently voiced dialogue options. The Player is making a clear choice as to her current mental state. Total badass with nothing to lose or demure and beaten down by her past and the looming reality she doesn’t quite accept. At this point you see that Michonne is the perfect choice for this kind of game.
Other characters for the majority of the time are sadly not quite as complicated. For example Pete is a good guy through and through to a point of naivety. Oak is a surly Brit that constantly distrusts everything and everyone. Later we meet Randall who’s just a douche bag in every sense of the word. Norma is probably the only character that stood out as she made me second-guess the situation. Seeing things from her perspective isn’t easy though as Randall’s behaviour kind of overshadows everything she says.
The storyline is a series of predictable clichés that lead to inevitable conclusions. I understand this is the first chapter of three parts and there’s a tonne of necessary exposition. However, this is a narrative reliant game and there’s no escaping that by saying it’s coming soon. Which is exactly what the end of this chapter does by giving you a choice that could affect the next chapter. The events have to be able to throw us a curveball within the chapter that grabs our attention and allows us to respond. Having nothing until the cliffhanger makes you really feel like you’re going through the motions just for that and the frustration of having to wait to see where it goes. In all honesty it doesn’t even hold a candle to the first episodes of series one and two or even 100 days.
Though I doubt many will get this for the combat system, it comes across as very confused. You start the game being shown that pushing the analogue left or right swipes your weapon. Mere moments later this is abandoned for a button prompt system. What’s really odd is that the, move reticule, highlight and attack system is completely gone. A huge step backwards when you have nothing competent to replace it outside of a disjointed series of quick time event prompts that lack cohesion. Other moments of interaction are either superfluous or so set path it hurts. Even the radio looking for a signal wont let you turn dials beyond set limits. One fun thing was that you could just turn off the radio and skip a chunk of needless dialogue.
Ultimately, if this were an episode of the TV series or comic books it would be the one where nothing really happens because it’s entirely about set up for the next episode. There are some interesting moments but they revolve almost entirely around what’s going on in Michonne’s head. Michonne is great as a character for an interactive TV show like this. Though, I question the logic of playing as her over having her as a companion. The problem with being her is we all know she lives through this adventure. It’s like when you watch an action film knowing there’s a sequel. It takes away any idea that the hero might actually die. The previous iterations used made up characters with uncertain futures that kept you constantly on edge. The game tries to go around this by putting other characters in danger. Due to cliché caricature personalities and no time to really get beyond that, you simply aren’t invested in them. Add to that a lack of an intuitive combat system and you feel somewhat disconnected from the episode. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes with a certain amount of trepidation. There’s a hint at real story branching and I hope Telltale can really bring it. As it stands I expect a much higher calibre from them, weighed upon their previous work this is one of the weakest episodes so far.
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