Telltale and The Walking Dead, two names that have gone hand in hand in gaming for the last few years. With it’s critically acclaimed stories, Telltale’s The Walking Dead has been entertaining gamers and fans of the series a like with it’s immersive story telling and choose your own adventure style gameplay. This time around, we’re treated to a side story, centering around the popular character Michonne, the machete wielding, never yielding, gone through some shit but never quits, woman who has gained an insane amount of popularity during the airing of the AMC series. Will this series stack up to the previous two seasons, or will it die a fiery death of misused popularity?
Game Name: The Walking Dead: Michonne (Episode 1: In Too Deep)
Platform(s): PC/Mac via Steam (Reviewed on PC), Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android
Publisher(s): Telltale Games
Developer(s): Telltale Games
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Let’s get this out of the way first, The Walking Dead: Michonne is not much different from all of Telltale’s adventure novels of the past, such as Back To The Future or…you guessed it…Tales from the Borderlands (thought I was gonna mention the obvious, did you?) That being said, from a gameplay standpoint, there’s nothing truly different here. It’s all still Quick Time Events and decision making mechanics, a staple of the Telltale series. But for the benefit of those who are now getting into the series, every decision you make affects you later in the game, both in the current season, as well as later seasons. While the idea of influencing later gameplay is always fun, let’s be honest, the lack of a change in the core gameplay style is a disappointment all around.
However, that doesn’t take away from the overall aesthetic, something that Telltale has always been good with. The art style is beautiful, and the environment is always immersive and well suited to the particular segment in the game, no matter where you are. Now this is simply the first episode of the miniseries, which explains Michonne’s disappearance from Rick Grimes’ group in the comics, however, there’s a lot of story in these first 7 chapters, despite the slow initial start, but that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing!
Diamond Dallas Page jokes aside, Episode 1 of The Walking Dead: Michonne, titled ‘In Too Deep,’ opens up with a jarring start, as you’re thrust into a situation where Michonne is fighting her inner demons after leaving her daughters behind, while mixing it up with walkers in a clearing in the middle of nowhere. From here, it gets a little stagnant, as there isn’t much in the way of action, however, once you get past Chapter 3, the action begins to ramp up and the story gets a lot more interesting as you go forward. The lull after the opening might kill the interest of many players, and that’s something that Telltale needs to fix with their storytelling. Things like monitoring a radio, or searching for something that’s blocking the ship’s movement, while integral, may seem tedious for those who want to keep the action going after being teased. Others may like it, however, so take it for what you will.
That being said, the aesthetic, in sound and visuals are fantastic, despite being more of the same. The subtle sounds of your surroundings will suck you in, as well as the visuals, especially during some of the flashbacks that Michonne has. Going back to the story, or at least character development, every character has something to keep you interested, or even invoke some kind of feeling. For example, while Michonne and Randall have some similarity, Michonne is looking for some kind of inner redemption, and Randall is an overzealous jackass, the latter of which you kind of want to stab in the eye with a rusty ice pick and drag him through the walker infested waters of the Chesapeake by slow moving speedboat.
As for the cast, The Walking Dead: Michonne is lead by Samira Wiley, known for her role as Poussey Washington in Orange is the New Black, playing the title role, and Malik Yoba, of New York: Undercover and Empire fame, playing Pete, her partner in crime throughout this series.
*Review Copy issued by Telltale Games*
Episode 1: In Too Deep - 6/10
Par for the course, I guess.
To be fair, it's standard Walking Dead fare from Telltale. There isn't much of a difference, and to those who didn't read the graphic novel, and don't know what happened to Michonne during her disappearance from Rick Grimes' group, there isn't much to be said here. That doesn't take away from enjoying the game, as the story is immersive and fantastic, but there isn't anything that can really add to the experience if you're not a fan of The Walking Dead. It's a stale gameplay model, and I fully expect nothing to change in the future.