Why the 'Walking Dead' Game Franchise Is a Runaway Hit
When companies do video game adaptations of movies, TV shows or comics, they usually stick close to the original.
But for their take on Robert Kirkman’s "The Walking Dead" comics, Telltale Games created its own story, while incorporating bits and pieces from the popular television series on AMC. As a result, it’s been a huge success for them – and it hasn’t even been fully released yet.
Since the April 25 release of "Episode 1: A New Day," the first in a five-part series, Telltale Games has reported sales of more than 1 million digital copies, a huge feat for the company. It even topped total sales of its "Back to the Future" and "Jurassic Park" games, which have been around for years. ['God of War: Ascension' Adds Multiplayer Gaming]
The phenomenal success comes not only from the popularity of the TV show but also from Telltale's design, creating a level of tension just as high, if not higher, than the source material.
In the game, players control Lee Everett, a prisoner who escapes captivity during a transfer and finds himself knee-deep in a zombie invasion. In addition to staying alive on his own terms, he also has to keep an eye on a lost girl, Clementine, seeking her family.
The gameplay in "The Walking Dead" is split between action sequences, where you need to guide players through crucial segments of the journey, and hard decision-making instances. Throughout the game, you’ll be given some rough dilemmas, such as choosing between two characters in life-threatening situations. The one you abandon may die — or survive, and then end up distrusting you. You may also have to choose to side with a particular character, leaving another one feeling rejected or, worse yet, vengeful. The choices you make affect how the current and future episodes play out, with characters either helping you or leaving you for dead. ['Mortal Kombat' Is Bloody Good Fun]
It’s this level of existential depth, excellent dialogue, visual effects worthy of the TV series (like a zombie popping out of a closet) and terrific stage design (like the unlit pharmacy that becomes a last-ditch survival facility) that will keep players on the edge of their seats. The appearance of familiar characters is also a plus, including Hershel and Glenn, mainstays from the show.
On top of that, Telltale is pricing the game reasonably well. It’s selling individual episodes for $5, a steal considering the two-plus hours' worth of gameplay each one carries. For PlayStation 3 and PC subscribers, you can also purchase a season pass for $20, essentially getting the fifth episode for free. ['PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale']
"The Walking Dead" will continue its season run with the next episode, "Starved For Help," arriving in June. The subsequent chapters, "Long Road Ahead," "Around Every Corner" and "No Time Left," will roll out through 2012.
If you’re a fan of the show, comic, or both, or if you just like intense game experiences in general, we advise you to check it out.