The Walking Dead
In a world of gaming where character paths can literally be labelled ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’, it can be hard to make a system of choice that matters. Fallout quests become ‘what gets me the better weapon’, Mass Effect becomes an exercise in gaining the most Morality Points, and Fable…well, let’s not talk about Fable. Asking for a choice system that will make a player willingly disadvantage themselves just because it’s the Right Thing To Do is a tall order. The Walking Dead understands this completely, and it’s here that its strength lies.
For the uninitiated, The Walking Dead is a point-and-click adventure game following the journey of one Lee Everett, a college professor attempting to survive the zombie apocalypse. Your real quest, however, comes in Clementine, a young girl taken into your care. It’s in this way that the Walking Dead avoids ‘gaming the system’ choices in its journey: whether it’s making the decision not to swear in front of her or whether you should sever the limb of a bitten man, each choice really just comes down to what you will teach Clementine about how to survive in this new world. There are no perks for picking the ‘right’ option; often, there’s no right option at all. There’s just you and your morals and how they respond to this new responsibility.
Unfortunately, the hardware lets this down. Prone to strange bouts of lag on every platform, porting this game to a handheld does it no favours. The lags are more frequent, the load times longer, and the integration of the Vita’s touch controls only make the whole thing more clunky. Stick to the regular device controls if you can: they’re nearly identical to the PS3 release.
As a bridging component towards the second season, the package also contains the ‘Walking Dead 1.5’ DLC, 400 Days. Sadly, the game falls into the very traps it so skilfully avoided in the main game: choices are all about playing the system, several characters are given screen time but rarely enough to make any of them compelling, and the whole thing – while as competent and compelling as usual in the story it does bring – is very much just a teaser piece to tide us over.
However, all of these are minor nitpicks on a very strong package. If you’ve somehow never played The Walking Dead and your best option for it is the Vita, then you’re better served to pick it up than not. The Walking Dead remains an unmissable title for anyone who wants a real story with real people that causes real feelings. The fact that people freely admit to crying over it tells that tale enough.
If you were going to play The Walking Dead before and somehow never did, then the Vita version is still a decent choice. Mechanical issues arising from it being on a handheld can jar the flow, but the powerfully genuine story underneath is unscathed. Don’t miss it.
- Strong story with compelling characters
- A system of choice that matters
- Everything in a single, consistent package
- Severe lag issues on Vita hardware
- Touch controls are not great