Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pocket Review - The Walking Dead: Season One

In 2012, I dove into Telltale's first Walking Dead game for PlayStation 3 and thought it was fantastic. The character development was great, the story offered tons tough decisions, and the suspense was gripping from start to finish. In preparing for the second season, I decided to power through the game again on Vita so that my choices would transfer over. I didn't think I'd enjoy replaying it as much knowing all that was going to happen, fearing the magic would be gone. I'm glad I did, because The Walking Dead: Season One still holds up to be one of the greatest narrative experiences in gaming.

Despite knowing the outcome of events and having the opportunity to make different choices this time around, I still found myself making similar decisions to my first playthrough. Even though I was certain that trying to save a character wouldn't change anything, the investment in those characters was so high that I just had to try to save them even if I knew it wasn't possible. What makes The Walking Dead so great is that Lee is such a relatable character, and it's easy to put yourself into his shoes when trying to make the tough calls. Whether you're arguing with Kenny or trying to protect the group from outsiders, Telltale does a fantastic job of making those decisions feel meaningful even if you know the outcome is already set.

In taking up the game again on Vita, there were a couple of issues that made it more of a challenge to play. Gameplay sections that require fast movement or quick responses were not that well-implemented originally, but these are less optimized on Vita. Sometimes actions are required immediately after the game loads, but there's a bit of a delay that might cause you to miss being able to select the option you want without knowing it's coming and being very precise. While this is a rare occurrence, it still happens often enough to be a noticeable issue.

The Vita version was also packaged with 400 Days, the short and rather vapid DLC for Season One. These five episodes are meant to act as a bridge between the first and second season, but don't really draw the same impact due to each of the episodes feeling cut-off from the rest of the experience despite having subtle ties to each other. There were still a couple stand outs moments such as the interactions with creepy stranger in Russell's story and the suspenseful action in Wyatt's. In the end, it lacked the depth and strength of the rest of the main season.

Despite a few issues, The Walking Dead: Season One still remains an outstanding game, and being able to play it on the go is wonderful. That said, I can't help but feel that this version was an afterthought as it feels like a scaled up mobile port instead of something crafted specifically for the Vita. Even with those problems, it was still great to replay this game as I wait for Season Two to finish up so that I can marathon it.

Recommended? Yes, but it doesn't hold up to other versions already available.
Enjoyed By? Anyone looking for a gripping tale. It's even great for a second replay of the game if you're wanting a refresher.

This game was played on Vita via a retail cart provided by the publisher.

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