As a huge avid gamer myself, I expose myself to many varieties of games, such as the casual playing of Pokemon, to the experienced drama of Mass Effect, and with the growing trend of games for the older age group, a lot of deep and complex issues are laced within the story, such as dealing with the pain of universal genocide of Mass Effect 3, to the subtle messages of slavery and human dominance of pokemon.
A lot of these issues are brushed aside when we play these games, cause if we play our cards right, everything will turn out all hunky-dory. Even in depressing games like Silent Hill, where our protagonists usually escape the eldritch horrors of the town.
....But, never in my wildest years did I ever think I would be exposed to the traumatising drama and pain that is from my newest edition to Steam: Telltale's The Walking Dead.
Made by Telltales, known for making great classic comedies, such as Sam and Max, Tales of Monkey Island, and many, many others, THIS game SHATTERS ALL THOSE EXPECTATIONS.
As a huge fan of zombie apocalypse games (Resident Evil, Bioshock, etc...), I would've never thought in my entire life that a simple point-and-click would leave me this emotionally torn and shocked. Here, I thought I was going in getting the classics of a zombie outbreak.
This game...creates the exact turmoil and pain that would come from a zombie apocalypse, and there's no suger-coating it, whatsoever. Even in some games, like Mass Effect, has decisions that have everlasting consequences. But, even in those games, if you play your cards right, EVERYONE LIVES.
This...is not true in this game. This is as close to real life as a game would get. There is no backtracking, no pacifism route you can take, no "Third Option" in these choices. You are going to have to make some terrible choices in this game, and people are going to die, old AND young. Friendships will be made, betrayals will be discovered, humanity of the self is pushed to it's limit, and blood WILL be split.
Now, I have be surprised by games, even totally shocked (bioshock infinite), but never have I felt this emotional torn in a game about FUCKING ZOMBIES!
It rivals even Evangelion in terms of it's drama and pain, maybe even surpassing it. The choices I've made in the game, even if I thought my intentions were pure and for good...it left a nasty taste in my mouth. There isn't a black and white scale in this game...only really, really dark gray, and it's brilliant in it's execution.
Now, I know that this is just a game, but fuck, it really makes it feel like your in Lee's shoes, and that you're the one who has to decide this choices, that it's who calling who lives and who dies.
From now on, I'm never going to criticize Shinji, Asuka, Misato, or any of the characters of Evangelion or anyone in real life for the difficult decisions they've made, good or bad, because when it comes down to it, when you have to make these tough calls...they happen so fast, you react on instinct, hoping you're doing the right thing. And if you lament on it, feeling that you could've done something else, you're just beating yourself up til you go mad with grief...because in truth, there probably wasn't another way.
So, for my verdict: This game is brilliant in it's story, it's characters, and in the emotional investment that you can gain from everyone of these people. For those who are looking at it just for the zombies: A WARNING. This game is NOT for the faint of heart. It's not about the zombies. It's about us, and what happens to the word "human" when we're all trapped in a corner with no way out.