After five years of creating new stories for their popular series of The Walking Dead story adventure games, Telltale Games has decided to bundle all of them up into one package for the 2017 holiday season.
Featuring enhanced graphics and every season of The Walking Dead games thus far, The Walking Dead Collection is a great opportunity to nab all 19 episodes of the narrative for a price considerably lower than what you'd spend buying everything individually. Unfortunately, the content within the collection ranges from excellent to disappointing, and this holds back the experience from being truly fantastic.
Story: Fight to survive a ruthless world
The group of stories found within this collection are focused on a variety of protagonists who have survived the beginning of an unstoppable zombie apocalypse. These characters are forced to interact with each other and the outside world in order to find ways to weather the storm, and the conflicts between the survivors themselves and with the hordes of zombies make up the bulk of the title's narrative.
Characters go through major arcs and developments during their struggles, and often the choices you make as them can determine the path your character goes down — as well as the fate of those around you.
A good amount of the time, this structure works excellently. Character arcs overall are satisfying, and the dark, depressing nature of the setting means no choice is an easy one. Often, you'll find yourself in lose-lose situations, and it's up to you to decide what the right course of action is.
Sadly, the series falls flat more than a few times over the course of the 19 episode journey. There are times in which some characters are difficult to relate to, to the point where it's hard to care for them at all. On top of this, there are instances in which the story introduces unnecessary plot twists that take away from the developing narrative.
Gameplay: Become part of The Walking Dead
Following the Telltale formula, The Walking Dead series is progressed through via walking simulator exploration, quick-time events (QTEs) and dialogue with characters. There's plenty of things to find as you venture throughout the remnants of human civilization, and much of it contributes positively to world building.
The mini action QTEs are decently fun, but can feel rather monotonous. For example, one such sequence involves kicking an object out from under a garage door in order to seal you off from a horde of zombies. You have to press the button three times, once for each time you kick it before it finally moves.
In the situations like the one I described, it would have been nicer if they just kept it to a single button press. Making me press a button for everything during a simple task makes these types of things feel like cheesy padding.
Most value of The Walking Dead's gameplay lies within its dialogue. While I did say that a fair amount of the characters aren't interesting, the majority of them that are engage in meaningful and well-written conversations with those around them. Choosing what to say is an engaging experience due to the fact that your choice of words often has influence on the people around you. These influences can greatly impact the relationships that you form with these characters.
Presentation: Making a dead world feel alive
The area where the game absolutely excels is in the presentation. The perspectives of the camera are positioned perfectly almost all of the time and do a great job at "capturing the moment" effectively, while the score is filled with moody tracks that suit the hopeless, dystopian nature of the setting incredibly well.
Telltale's trademark stylistic art direction also adopts a much more grounded, gritty appearance in The Walking Dead series, which visually compliments the dark themes of the narratives told. The enhanced graphics compared to the look of the original game also help make the experience more aesthetically appealing as well.
Though it often showcases excellent characters that go through well-written development, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection is held back by some narrative flaws and dull quick-time events. The world is filled with secrets to find and places to explore, and the presentation of it through art, music and great cinematography is a positive. Despite this, the issues with the story and gameplay prevent it from truly achieving its maximum potential.
- Well-crafted world.
- Strong stories overall.
- Great presentation.
- Too many boring/uninteresting characters.
- Too many plot twists.
- Dull quick-time events.
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection is available on Xbox One now for $49.99.
This review was conducted on an Xbox One, using a copy provided by the publisher.