Even without a video game, The Walking Dead is a massively successful juggernaut of a franchise. Naturally, this should have paved the way for a few quick cash-ins in the gaming market. Instead, we got the best game Telltale Games has put out in a very long time. Let's check out why The Walking Dead: The Game has earned it's spot as a Game of the Year nominee.
From the first moments of the first episode of this game, it was clear that the developers had a good bead on what they were doing. The Walking Dead is a franchise that cannot have prolonged moments of downtime or happiness, and Telltale Games got the right through all five episodes. The series made its first major move in the second episode, killing off a couple key characters and delivering a wondefully dark cannibalism storyline to boot. From then on, the series didn't miss a step when it came to the storytelling.
All isn't perfect with this game, however. Technical issues plagued the first four episodes, from stuttering cutscenes to dipping framerates. On top of that, the puzzles weren't difficult at all, which is out of the ordinary for a point-and-click adventure game. Fortunately, the first four episodes pulled through with some fantastic writing and characters, while the fifth episode all but did away with these issues (puzzles aside).
And, that's really what matters when it comes to The Walking Dead. Even if it had puzzles like Myst and was the smoothest game of the year, it would be nothing if it weren't for the outstanding writing. Lee is a great protagonist, who has enough of a dark backstory to fit in with the universe while remaining appealing to most players. The supporting adults are all interesting in their own right, though you are sure to identify with some more than others (and they will most likely die before all is said and done).
The real award, though, goes to Clementine. The remarkable young girl who becomes the focal point of Lee's, and the players' hearts is also the best part of the first season of the game. She is adorable, but tough, and equally vulnerable. You'll want to protect her, and when you make a choice that you know she won't approve of, you'll feel terrible, even if it was completely necessary.
Without a doubt, The Walking Dead: The Game has breathed new life into the adventure genre. Furthermore, it has shown what can be accomplished both with an episodic, digital distribution method and a game that revolves entirely on choice, and that changes based on how you've played. It's not perfect, and the choices don't exactly affect the main plot, but it's a very personal and emotional experience that every gamer should experience before they get bogged down with new releases in 2013.