Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween, Walkers

Is it appropriate that I finally finished The Walking Dead Season One on Vita on Halloween?  Because I think so.  I very much think so.  Because The Walking Dead is very much a horror-themed game, but not exactly because of the zombies or the scares involving them.  No, no, that...that would be a little too easy.  I'm sure everyone knows this by now since I'm playing catch-up with the rest of the world, but Telltale's version of The Walking Dead presents real, gut-wrenching terror in the choices that have to be made by Lee, the man whom you assume control of for the entirety of the five episodes.  It's no spoiler to say that you hold lives in your hands, virtual though they might be, and the game makes sure you feel that weight which is impressive to say the very least.

I didn't expect that.  Call me cynical, but when I hear universal praise for a game, I expect it to be disappointing, hype aside, because it's just happened so many times before.  Portal bored and frustrated me, Bioshock convinced me that I simply have differing opinions on what makes a Hard mode hard and Assassin's Creed 2 managed to only get a resounding "meh" from me when all was said and done, because for all the right it did, it did so much wrong.  So I went into The Walking Dead expecting...well, not really expecting anything because I feared to be disappointed and secretly hoped to be overwhelmed.  Obviously, the latter happened, and in the good way, clearly, which is something that honestly surprises me given how these things generally work out.

It has to be stated, however, that the game is not a technical marvel by any means and will leave you wanting if you're intensely put off by such things.  Framerate hitches and drops are commonplace - even at times where such a thing is deadly - audio stutters are not uncommon and I even had a moment where Lee managed to break every amount of tension by moonwalking away from someone for...some reason.  I'm assured that it was not intentional.  I'm fairly confident that these issues are present in all versions of the game, not just the Vita port, and while it's no small thing, it's something that I'm willing to ignore for the sake of what the game offers otherwise.  It's well worth it, I assure you.

Not since the likes of Alpha Protocol have I seen a Conversation and Relationship system work in quite such an encompassing way as The Walking Dead's system manages.  I dare say that it's not quite as complex as Alpha Protocol's, and it has a feature that basically 'lifts the curtain' of it, so to speak, that tells you what decisions -really- matter, versus the ones that might not beyond a little context.  You can turn it off, and you might wish to as seeing "Kenny will remember that." or "You scared Clementine." in the upper left corner might make your meta-gaming instincts take over.  It's clearly these decisions that decide your path and who will be joining you -on- that path, which is sometimes based on that one decision alone, but other times decided based on that one and previous ones which is fairly clever.

I am now admittedly far more interested in The Wolf Among Us than I was previously, but the technical foibles of TWD as a whole have cemented my purchasing decision for me already.  As in, I will be waiting for the entire season to be out and discounted before I put money on the Season fully.  It's only the tipping point of the decision, however, as were they not present, I'm fairly confident that I would have a difficult decision to make.  I did really like TWD and found it...actually inspiring, as in don't expect this to be my last post of it, but the episodic structure would drive me crazy (I don't know how people didn't riot in the streets after Episode 3 came out and they had to wait for Episode 4) and I honestly have a lot on my plate as it is without introducing something that requires a long-term commitment as this does, technically, due to the protracted releases.  So it's far less of a issue than it is an excuse, I suppose.  Still, the waiting for the full TWAU Season One on Vita is going to be difficult...just as the wait for TWD Season Two will be excruciating.

seriously, the moonwalk just ruined that entire moment (near end of chapter 2) and it almost made me mad that it did so

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