Interactive movies are starting to become a big thing in the App Store. The new iPad and iPhone 4S have such great processors that developers are starting to create full-motion animated adventures like Jurassic Park and now The Walking Dead. But is The Walking Dead: The Game fun for fans of the show and comic? Or is it just a fancy motion comic? Let's take a look at Episode 1: A New Day.
I'll admit that I do watch The Walking Dead show on AMC. Even though it plods along and there's more talking than killing, it's still an interesting show with engaging characters. I've never read the comic book, which this game is based off of, but playing a game like this is like playing a comic book. Only you get to control the main character and kill zombies.
You play as Lee Everett, handcuffed in the back of a patrol car that's on its way to deliver you to jail. When the car strikes what appears to be a pedestrian on the freeway, you find yourself trapped in a hellish world where the dead have begun walking the Earth. And they're after anything that's living -- including you.
Despite the game crashing on me a couple of times, the production value in The Walking Dead is pretty outstanding. The animation is very crisp, the voice over work is top notch, and the zombies all look great. This isn't a game for minors -- there's blood and gore everywhere and these characters say more swear words than all of "Casino" and "Goodfellas" combined. I'm not sure how a game with so many f-words and so much blood only has a 12+ rating when this stuff would never fly in a PG-13 movie.
Despite the high production values and mature content, you watch more of The Walking Dead than you do play it. At certain points in the game you can look around and press dots on the screen, indicating various things to interact with. During conversations with other characters, you can choose your responses and questions. Characters will remember the things you say to them. For example, if you give a guy a hard time when he asks what your name is, he'll remember that and later in the game tell you to stop being a jerk. It doesn't really matter what responses you give. (I always gave the worst ones.) The game still progresses no matter how you answer.
You do have to think on your feet in a few spots. One situation finds you stuck with a difficult decision. Zombies are attacking two members of your party but you can only get to one. Do you save the little boy, or the older man who will be more useful to you? These decisions do affect the dialogue that follows, I just wish the game had more branching-type choices in it. There are some puzzle parts, like trying to find weapons in a hotel parking lot without attracting zombie attention, but enough pointing and clicking will eventually get you past it.
While the story isn't too bad, the game itself is actually kind of boring. You're really not doing much except looking for the next interactive point or discussion topic that will move you to the next chapter. And if you exit out before a checkpoint, then you get to watch it all over again when you restart the app. A real pain, especially if the game decides to crash on you.
The zombie kills are pretty brutal though. You use everything from a hammer to a car to an axe to take these suckers out. And if you're too slow to react to a scene, the zombie will have itself an early lunch when it chows down on you. I was hoping I'd be able to control more of Lee, but you're left with pressing circles and swiping across the screen when a prompt shows up.
The first episode was an OK introduction to the planned five-episode series that you can pre-purchase through the app. I was actually quite bored with most of the pointless conversations I had to engage in to advance the game. Fans of the comic book and show will probably love it, but unless things pick up in future episodes, casual players will spend their money on other games that have more of a pulse.