Played on PS4 (Also Available on Xbox One)
Telltale Games’s classic first season of The Walking Dead has finally arrived on current-gem consoles.
One of my favorite games of 2012, The Walking Dead Season One is also one of the few games I’ve replayed multiple times since it’s initial release. Telling the tale (see what I did there?) of some alternate characters from Robert Kirkman’s universe of The Walking Dead, the story follows Lee Everett, a man convicted of killing his wife’s lover, who escapes police custody as the living dead start to wreak havoc on society. He quickly rescues a young girl, named Clementine, and together the begin a journey to find any last hope of safety, and maybe the truth about their families fates along the way. The Walking Dead is dark, harsh, and kicks you in the face at every chance it gets.
While it follows fairly traditional adventure game mechanics when it comes to puzzle solving, the game adds a few unique twists that make it stellar. To begin with, Telltale added action sequences you wouldn’t normally find in standard point and click games. These moments are frantic and intense, forcing you to save companions, kill zombies, and more, all in an instant. The game also is the first I’ve experienced where decisions truly matter, and don’t serve to just progress the story in small variations. Your decisions might make someone hate you, forcing them to leave your group or betray you. You might even have to decide who to help in a given moment, meaning the one you don’t help dies. They’re gone. This is a 10 hour experience, and you might end your game with different survivors than your friends.
It’s an incredible experience that begged for replays when it first came out, even if the original release was plagued with technical hiccups.
I played the game originally on PS3, but have replayed on PC, and again on iOS. As fantastic as the game is, no version performed very well. The comic book art style looked nice, but textures were often blurry, and the framerate was all over the place. It makes sense where the issues would occur – when you make a decision, the game has to load your outcome on the fly. This led to chugging, janky transistions, and loss of audio upon occasion. Characters would go from crouching to instantly standing up or even in a new position in the room in the blink of an eye.
Did the current-gen version I played on PS4 solve these issues?
Unfortunately not to the level I had hoped. Thankfully the issues with framerate have mostly been resolved. It runs very smoothly, I’d say staying at 60fps most of the time. Load times are much faster, as are save times. The game still has issues with transitions post-decision, and has some jarring jumps to scenes pretty regularly. They stand out more than they did before, only because they would blend into the inconsistent framerate we originally had. With the new smooth framerate these issues pop. Visually the game is much stronger, with crisp anti-aliasing and improved texture work, but there are odd shadow and texture pop-ins that happens every once in a while, and I had some audio dropped within the first 10 minutes of play. The final credit screen for the games first chapter only half loaded, leaving a broken looking screen I feared wouldn’t save my progress.
Overall the game plays much better than it ever has, but I’m disappointed that after over 2 years since the first chapter was released, this new edition isn’t completely technically sound, especially given what is being displayed in comparison to visually astounding and smooth games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Titanfall, or Ryse: Son of Rome.
If you’ve never played The Walking Dead Season One and have a current-gen console, pick this up now for PS4 or Xbox One. Even as a veteran of the game I really enjoyed playing it again, and experienced the game, once again, in a whole new fashion. Season Two of the series just ended, but as it doesn’t launch until next week on current-gen, I have yet to play it. I can’t wait to dive into it, and hopefully, given it’s a newer game, some of the technical issues present here will be finally eliminated.