At the end of 2018, the studio behind the wildly successful “The Walking Dead” games made the news for all the wrong reasons: it went kaput rather quickly, with a massive exodus ensuing, games not being finished, and fans left wondering what the future of those franchises would hold. It was a different story in 2013, when I purchased my first (and so far only) Playstation Vita: The OLED Vita with The Walking Dead Season 1 bundle. But was the game any good? Let’s find out as we re-visit this bundle (Season 1 + 400 Days) together.
To be honest, it was excellent.
I was already a fan of the show by the time I bought the bundle (which was a no-brainer, considering the bundle was the same price as a Vita without any games). I went into it expecting to see Rick and the gang in the game, not knowing much about how the Telltale games worked at that point. My mild disappointment quickly turned into joy once I discovered that, surprisingly, Telltale had not only matched the quality of character development seen in the comics and original TV series, but far exceeded the quality of their plot (particularly after the 3rd and 4th seasons).
Instead of following Grimes, Krrlrlrlrlr (couldn’t resist, sorry) and all the other characters, we follow Lee Everett, a professor with a few secrets, who quickly encounters what I consider to be one of the best characters of the decade: Clementine. Together, they must solve puzzles and make heart-breaking decisions to (hopefully) survive the zombie apocalypse. As a game that is driven much more by its characters than the action around them, the moral impact of the choices they made is a huge, huge factor in why Telltale games are so revered.
This is not a fast action game by any means (though your choices are timed for effect). I’ve played other “The Walking Dead” games, particularly on phones, and while I enjoyed the hectic nature of evading zombies, I found Telltale’s signature plot and character development a much more satisfying approach to an otherwise very easy to botch genre.
This is all easy to see in hindsight, as subsequent seasons of “The Walking Dead” games saw critical and commercial success, leading to “The Wolf Among Us”, a game about a warewolf that was much more human than most games about people, and “Batman: The Talltale Series”, probably one of the most broken games to see a physical release on the Vita (though very much still a fantastic piece of writing). But when I just got the game, Telltale were not as widely known, having worked with the “Back to the Future” and “Jurassic Park” franchises to mild reception.
Another iconic aspect of Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” series, as well as other games that use it, is the engine. It’s become almost an industry meme in how buggy it can be and how poorly it performs even on powerful hardware. But the truth is, for what these games are about, what their core mechanics are, it really is just good enough to not hinder the blisteringly good writing and moral weight of these games. And considering the graphics are really, really good for a Vita game, and the voice actors are top, top notch… well, you can’t really go wrong, can you? Add to that the fact that this Season 1 release included the “400 Days” DLC!
The rest, as they say, is history: Telltale went kaput, the final part of this game series is supposedly in development, and former Telltale employees have already started their own studio. But that takes nothing away from “The Walking Dead: Season 1”: the truth is that this is a great experience that is made even better by its portability, and if you have not played it in all these years, or have not revisited it for a while, you owe it to yourself to see just how awesome “The Walking Dead” universe can be when it doesn’t have Negan for 3 seasons in a row.
At a glance:
- Title: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season and 400 Days DLC Bundle
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- System: PS Vita
- Format: Retail / PSN Download (Retail not available in EU)
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 2,330Mb
NOTE: I’ve revisited this game because of all that’s happened with Telltale and the fact that it was the first-ever Vita game I ever owned. Do you want to read the original review? Here it is: http://www.vitaplayer.co.uk/game-review-the-walking-dead-the-complete-first-season-400-days-ps-vita/