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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is an episodic graphic adventure based on Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series. The game was developed by Telltale Games and was initially slated for release in the last months of 2011, but was held back until early 2012 to allow further time for development. The game consists of five episodes, released between April and November 2012. Telltale has also published retail versions of the complete game. Currently the game is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, iOS, OS X PlayStation Vita, and Kindle Fire HDX. An Ouya version is planned for release in early 2014.

The game takes place in the same fictional world as the comic, with events occurring shortly after the onset of the zombie apocalypse in Georgia. However, most of the characters are original to the game, which centers on university professor and convicted murderer Lee Everett, who helps to rescue and subsequently care for a young girl named Clementine. Kirkman provided oversight for the game's story to ensure it corresponded to the tone of the comic, but allowed Telltale to handle the bulk of the developmental work and story specifics. Three characters from the original comic book series make in-game appearances; Hershel Greene, Shawn Greene and Glenn Rhee.

Unlike many graphic adventure games, The Walking Dead does not emphasize puzzle solving, but instead focuses on story and character development. The story is affected by both the dialogue choices of the player and their actions during quick time events, which can often lead to, for example, certain characters being killed, or an adverse change in the disposition of a certain character or characters towards Lee. The choices made by the player carry over from episode to episode. Choices were also tracked by Telltale, and used to influence their writing in later episodes.

The Walking Dead has been critically acclaimed, with reviewers praising the harsh emotional tone of the story and the emphatic connection established between Lee and Clementine. The game has won over 90 "Game of the Year" awards, including awards from USA Today, GamesRadar, E! Online, and the Spike Video Game Awards. More than one million unique players have purchased at least one episode from the series, with over 8.5 million individual episodes sold by the end of 2012, and its success has been seen as constituting a revitalization of the weakened adventure game genre. In July 2013, Telltale released an additional downloadable episode, 400 Days, to extend the first season and bridge the gap towards the second season.

The Walking Dead Plot

The following summary is a broad overview of the work, describing the major events that occur regardless of player choice. Some specific elements not listed here will change based on the impact of player choices.

The game opens with Lee Everett on his way to prison after his conviction in Atlanta, Georgia. En route, the deputy sheriff's car in which he is travelling strikes a walker and careens off-road. Lee is knocked unconscious, awakening hours later to find the deputy lying outside the vehicle. Fleeing the car, Lee is attacked by the officer, who has turned into a walker, and Lee is forced to kill him. He takes shelter in a nearby home, discovering a little girl named Clementine hiding in her tree house. After learning that her parents had previously left for Savannah, Lee offers to protect and care for Clementine, and help her find them.

They then travel to a nearby farmstead, owned by Hershel Greene, where Lee is introduced to Kenny, his wife Katjaa and their son Duck. When Shawn, Hershel's son, is lost to a walker attack, Hershel banishes the group from his home. Lee and Clementine join Kenny and head towards Macon. There, they find shelter with several other survivors in a drugstore that had been owned by Lee's family, a fact he keeps to himself. While trying to recover medicine from the pharmacy, they set off the alarm and are forced to abandon the store, finding safety in a motel with a defensible perimeter.

Though protected from walkers, Lee and the survivors struggle to find food, and after three months, are at the last of their supplies. However, they are then approached by the St. Johns, a family who own a nearby dairy. The group exchange gasoline to power the St. Johns' electric fence for food and shelter. However, while on the dairy, Lee and Kenny discover the St. Johns have engaged in cannibalism, and the group flee, leaving the St. Johns to their fate as the farm is overrun by walkers. As they return to the motel, they find a seemingly abandoned car full of provisions, which they share out among themselves.

The group soon learns that the St. Johns had a deal with local bandits; they would give the bandits food and in exchange the bandits would not attack the dairy. Upon the death of the St. Johns, however, the bandits now turn their attention to the motel. They launch an attack that attracts walkers, and the group is forced to abandon their base and supplies. During the attack, Duck is bitten. After driving for a time, the group come upon a freight train, and meet Chuck, a homeless man who lives on it. He promptly joins the group. Lee and Kenny manage to get the train working, and the group head towards Savannah, with the intention of finding a boat and getting out onto the ocean, away from the walkers. During the trip, Duck's condition worsens, and the group stop to deal with him before he turns. Katjaa commits suicide over the loss, and Kenny and Lee are forced to either euthanize their son Duck or leave him behind. After the train's way is blocked by a truck, the group encounter Christa and Omid, two other survivors who join them.

Nearing Savannah, Clementine's walkie-talkie goes off, with an unknown man telling her she will be safe once he deals with Lee and the group, and promising her that her parents are waiting for her. After a zombie attack, in which Ben abandons Clementine, Chuck is separated from the group. The group takes shelter in a well fortified mansion, and Lee and Kenny head towards the pier to find a boat. There, they encounter Molly, who informs them there are no boats left in the city, and whatever useful supplies do remain are being held in Crawford, a fortified community who don't permit the elderly, the sick, or children into their ranks. When walkers attack, Lee is separated from the group, and he makes his way back to the mansion through the sewers. Whilst there, he discovers Chuck has been killed and he encounters Vernon and his group hiding in a hospital morgue. Vernon returns with Lee back to the mansion, where Clementine has discovered a boat in the shed. It lacks fuel and a battery, but both items can be obtained in Crawford. Lee and the group plan an invasion, but once there, they find the entire population has turned into walkers. They quickly gather the necessary supplies and leave. During this time, Ben is in danger, and the player can choose to save or kill him. Molly, realizing the boat won't hold everyone, takes her leave of the group. Vernon likewise departs, but not before warning Lee that he doesn't think he is an appropriate father-figure for Clementine, and offering to take care of her instead.

The next morning, Lee wakes to find Clementine missing, and in his haste to find her, he is attacked and bitten by a walker. Initially suspecting Vernon, Lee finds the morgue abandoned, when Clementine's walkie-talkie goes off. The man on the other end reports that he has Clementine and challenges Lee to come get her. Clementine is able to reveal to Lee where she is being held, and Lee heads back to the house only to find that the boat and other supplies have been stolen by Vernon's group. As the group head to rescue Clementine, Kenny sacrifices himself attempting to save another character. As they cross the rooftops, Lee is separated from the others, and he instructs the survivors to wait for him and Clementine at the edge of town, making them promise to care for her after he is gone.

Lee makes his way to the hotel where Clementine is captive. The man holding her explains that he was the owner of the car that the group ransacked after leaving the dairy, and as a result, he lost his family to walkers. Lee realizes the man has gone insane, and with Clementine's help, kills him. He then helps to cover Clementine in walker blood, disguising her from the other walkers. As they leave the hotel, however, Clementine spots her parents, both of whom have turned into walkers, and Lee collapses to the ground. Clementine drags him into a jeweller's, pulling the shutter down and locking them in. However, Lee realizes he is near conversion, and instructs her to escape the city and meet the other survivors at the edge of town. In his final moments, Lee guides Clementine past a walker near the back-door, and says goodbye to her. The player can choose to have Lee instruct Clementine to either kill him or leave him be and become a walker, or can opt to do nothing, where Clementine will choose an action based on the culmination of the player's choices within the game.

After the game's credits, Clementine is seen walking in a field by herself. She spots two figures in the distance. After a moment, they stop walking and turn to look in her direction.

The Walking Dead Gameplay

The Walking Dead is a graphic adventure, played from a third-person perspective with a variety of cinematic camera angles, in which the player, as protagonist Lee Everett, works with a rag-tag group of survivors to stay alive in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The player can examine and interact with characters and items, and must make use of inventory items and the environment. Throughout the game, the player is presented with the ability to interact with their surroundings, and options to determine the nature of that interaction. For example, the player may be able to look at a character, talk to that character, or if they are carrying an item, offer it to the character or ask them about it. According to Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead game is focused more on developing characters and story, and less on the action tropes that tend to feature in other zombie-based games, such as Left 4 Dead.

A screenshot showing dialog choices. At certain points in the game's conversation trees, the player will have a limited amount of time to respond, shown at the bottom of this screen. If they don't respond in time, the game will default to the "no statement" (ellipses) option.

Some parts of the game require timed responses from the player, often leading to significant decisions that will impact the game's story, in the manner of role-playing games (RPGs). Some conversation trees require the player to make a selection within a limited time, otherwise Lee will remain quiet, which can affect how other characters respond to him. Unlike in other RPGs such as the Mass Effect or Fallout series, where choices fall on either side of a "good or evil" scale, the choices within The Walking Dead have ambiguous results, having an effect on the attitude of the non-player characters towards Lee. The player can opt to enable a "choice notification" feature, in which the game's interface indicates that a character has changed their disposition towards Lee as a result of these choices. In more action-based sequences, the player must follow on-screen prompts for quick time events (QTEs) so as to keep themselves or other characters alive. If the player dies, the game restarts from just prior to the QTE. Other timed situations involve major decisions, such as choosing which of two characters to keep alive.

Each episode contains five points where the player must make a significant decision, choosing from one of two available options. Through Telltale's servers, the game tracks how many players selected which option and lets the player compare their choices to the rest of the player base. The game can be completed regardless of what choices are made in these situations; the main events of the story, as described below, will continue regardless of what choices are made, but the presence and behavior of the non-player characters in later scenes will be affected by these choices. The game does allow the player to make multiple saves, and includes a "rewind" feature where the player can back up and alter a previous decision, thus facilitating the exploration of alternative choices.

Reception
The Walking Dead received worldwide critical acclaim, with reviewers giving praise for the harsh emotional tone, the characters and the resemblance to the original comic book, although criticizing the graphical glitches. The game received over 80 Game of the Year awards and many other awards.

Episode 1 A New Day received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version 85.14% and 84/100, the Xbox 360 version 83.87% and 79/100 and the PC version 83.38% and 82/100. The game received various accolades including the IGN "Editors' Choice", PC Gamer "Editors' Choice", Xbox Editors' Choice Award, and the PlayStation Gold Award.

Episode 2 Starved for Help received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 86.53% and 84/100, the Xbox 360 version 86.26% and 84/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 85.90% and 84/100. The game won the GameSpy E3 2012 award for "Best Adventure Game".

Episode 3 Long Road Ahead received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 88.47% and 88/100, the PlayStation 3 version 86.11% and 87/100 and the PC version 85.41% and 85/100. IGN's Greg Miller gave it a 9 out of 10, saying "It's a disturbing, depressing and entertaining entry in a journey that's been nothing short of excellent so far." GameSpot gave the game an 8.5, saying "The Walking Dead has passed the midway point of its series of five episodes with every indication that the game will keep getting better right through to its inevitably depressing and unsettling conclusion." MTV also gave it a positive review, saying "Telltale has created a series of wrenching, emotional decisions in the middle of a collection of not-too-hard puzzles in a visually-impressive adaptation of the Robert Kirkman comic series (with some nods to the TV show)."

Episode 4 Around Every Corner received positive reviews, but slightly less than the other episodes. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 84.22% and 80/100, the Xbox 360 version 82.50% and 82/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 78.94% and 81/100.

Episode 5 No Time Left received highly positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 94.75% and 89/100, the Xbox 360 version 88.15% and 89/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 87.75% and 88/100.

400 Days received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version 78.20% and 78/100, the PC version 78.00% and 78/100 and the Xbox 360 version 76.88% and 80/100.


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