by Justin Snyder
reviewed on X360
Puzzled and Perplexed
While the dialogue and voice acting were strong, the animation was very hit-or-miss. Lee showed emotion the best, with moments of pain and surprise done quite well. The same can be said for Clementine, who looks believably downtrodden when you have to be stern with her. But many of the other characters have fairly stiff facial animations. For a game so focused on its characters and your conversations with them, it got to be noticeable pretty quickly. Equally noticeable were the audio glitches I encountered. One big one: At a certain point, Clementine is supposed to start a conversation, but the game allowed me to start one with her at the same time. So, I asked her a question just as she was supposed to ask one. Then, halfway through her response, the “Hey, I asked you a question” reminder came through. It was just a very grating experience; to have the character talking over herself, delivering two lines of dialogue at the same time.
For the most part, this game is light on the puzzles that have become such a huge part of the genre. Gone are the “combine item X and item Y to make fancy new thing you need” kinds of puzzles. Instead, the puzzles aren’t really so much puzzles as they are finding the right item to use in a situation. After all, you never know just how useful that spark plug will be. One puzzle, if it can really even be called that, which involves fixing a radio, is introduced with such oversight on the part of the character that starts it that it’s just hard to swallow. She can’t get the radio working and a quick check reveals there are no batteries. I understand that it’s supposed to be a high stress situation and her reaction to being told there aren’t any batteries in the radio could provide some comic relief, I can’t see why the same goal couldn’t have been achieved by having the character tell you that the radio doesn’t have any batteries and asking if you could bring some to her if you find them around. The way it happens in the game just feels so unrealistic.
Knowing that my choices can have an effect not only in the immediate future, but in later episodes is especially promising. Right after the episode ended, there was a “next time on Walking Dead” scene previewing the next episode. Some of the events you see there, especially the interactions with other characters, seem to be affected by choices you’ve made as that scene was slightly different after my second playthrough than after my first. At the very end, you’re presented with a breakdown of the major choices you’ve made in the game, as well as the percentages of other players who made those same choices. It’s always interesting to see the decisions of other players and I’m grateful that Telltale included this.
All-in-all, the game’s strong focus on player choice and the relationships between the player and the rest of the characters creates a very engaging story to play through. At the end of the episode, I found myself really anticipating the next one, and the few issues I came across feel like minor ones after playing through it twice. Telltale has got this series off to a great start, all that’s left to see is if these choices made and carried through to later episodes will have satisfying consequences.
Great, engaging story, strong characterization, point-and-click style works well with controller
Some stiff animation, a few audio glitches, occasionally weak puzzles