The Walking Dead: A New Day (Episode 1)

Because I don't have enough unfinished zombie games cluttering up my Playstation's hard drive (it's quite handy then, that Dead Island do a trophy for not playing the game for 28 days or longer), it's The Walking Dead videogame. Being an episodic bit of DLC, the main thing it does is go unfinished. Based on the comic books, it puts players in the shoes of escaped convict Lee Everett, a man who may or may not have murdered his wife's lover. As he is being driven to jail, the cop car in which he is travelling crashes (into a zombie) and Lee is freed - into a world more dangerous than any jail. Along the way, he picks up a possibly orphaned little girl named Clementine, and a sweet friendship forms between the two. Aaw. I don't know about you, but I prefer my sweet friendships to be tempered with zombies. 

Those hoping for a Resident Evil style slice of survival horror or a Dead Rising hack-em-up will be sorely disappointed by The Walking Dead's (lack of) action. Much like the comics and the television series, it is far more concerned about the atmospherics and characters than it is with chopping zombies to bits. Which isn't to say that A New Day doesn't have its share of grotty bits. There's a moment with an axe that made even me stop and go "huh." More divisive than all the talking, however, will be the overall style of gameplay. The Walking Dead is not so much a videogame as an interactive comic book. 

It's like a much less interactive version of Heavy Rain; a point and click adventure in which there isn't all that much to click on. Most of the gameplay is in choosing which bit of bullshit you'll tell your fellow survivors - you can't exactly go around telling everyone that you're a convicted murderer, now, can you? In The Walking Dead universe, earning a man's trust is the difference between life and death. I puckered right up to Herschel's arse here, just because I wanted him to like me. The conversations are a lot like those in Fallout 3, and will apparently have a lot of bearing on future instalments of the game. In this first episode, I felt real doubt as to whether my choices were having any impact on the game. I tried many times to get one character's horrible child killed, but to no avail. It's completely linear.

The cel shading is beautiful, evoking Charlie Adlard's work in the comic books. Sometimes it seems inappropriate though, especially during the more tense moments. Lee makes a sympathetic protagonist, his facial animations surprisingly expressive. One side effect of the branching conversations does tend to make everyone seem as though they suffer from mental disorders; jumping from friendliness to fury in a matter of seconds.

Default facial expression: sad. 
Unfortunately, 'hug Lee' is not a playable option.

A New Day is interesting and very well told, but not once did I feel as though I were in control of the action. For those who can't get enough of The Walking Dead universe, it's ideal. Those after an actual game from their game will find themselves a little more disappointed.      

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