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The Walking Dead: Episode One review

At Stuff we’re used to dealing with zombie apocalypses and we’ve got the achievements to prove it. And as games have taught us, zombie outbreaks are best handled with headshots, chainsaws or deceptively cute, weaponised vegetation.

Alas, these traditional solutions to undead infestations were never quite going to cut it in the game manifestation of The Walking Dead, the graphic novel and TV show that has marked itself out as the thinking man’s zombie drama.

So instead of embracing action, The Walking Dead game is a traditional point-and-click adventure that can trace its lineage to LucasArts classics like The Secret of Monkey Island.

This means story, conversations and puzzle solving take precedence over zombie annihilation. In fact, action is pretty much limited to having to think quickly during zombie attacks, but even then it’s done for the sake of drama rather than to test your walker-bashing skills.

Thankfully the drama successfully captures the franchise’s suspenseful air. The Walking Dead has always been as much about the uneasy alliances of the survivors as it has been about the zombies, and the game does a sterling job of bringing that to life – not least by handing the player’s character (who has never appeared in the books or TV show, incidentally) a sordid secret of his own to grapple with.

It doesn’t manage to avoid the occasional aimless item hunt, but at least the solutions to the puzzles are sensible. The game also breaks away from the linear nature of adventures: the decisions players make alter how other characters’ relate to them as well as who lives and who becomes a zombie snack.

The importance of those choices can’t be judged just yet though, as the game is divided into five TV-like episodes and only the first is available right now. But if this quality is maintained over all five, we’re absolutely sold.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

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