We’ve seen plenty of different adventure titles come from the fine folk at Telltale Games. We’ve been Back To The Future, explored Jurassic Park, uncovered some Tales From The Borderlands – we’ve even been to Westeros to play the Game Of Thrones. Perhaps the jewel in Telltale Games’ crown though is their interpretation of The Walking Dead series.
The Walking Dead had a big impact on the gaming community, earning Telltale Games countless plaudits. It brought impactful storytelling that you’re able to craft yourself, tense action scenes and some fantastic character development. Sure, it had its flaws, but it still earned Telltale Games a ton of new fans.
Now, after releasing two five-episode seasons of The Walking Dead along with a stand-alone solo episode, it’s back with a three-episode mini-series centred around the popular Michonne character who has featured in both the graphic novel and the TV show. Despite her appearance in both mediums, the video game is based around her time away from Rick’s group in the graphic novel.
The previous The Walking Dead video games have primarily focused on story telling, and whilst it still plays a big role in The Walking Dead: Michonne there is an extended focus on action. What would you expect from a character like the machete wielding Michonne, though? If you’ve seen her on the TV show or in the graphic novel you know that she is a zombie killing machine, so you can expect to kill plenty of zombies with her during your time in the game.
As in previous Telltale Games action events are played out across a series of QTEs. You’ll be hitting buttons when prompted, mashing buttons in true Track And Field style, swinging analogue sticks to recreate manoeuvres – the game provides a real work out for you thumbs. You’ll need quick reactions, but there’s nothing overbearingly difficult about the games QTEs. They provide enough pressure to keep you entertained, but you shouldn’t suffer too many deaths because of them.
Another familiarity to returning gamers is the games aesthetic style. If you’ve not played a Telltale Games title before, just imagine a graphic novel that actually moves in front of you. Whilst The Walking Dead: Michonne is the most attractive of all the entries in the series, you can still expect the typical dreary, saturated colour tones that fit in well with the bleak state of the game’s world. The same goes for the soundtrack – it’s dark and gloomy, keeping consistent with the vibe of the game. It’s a great soundtrack though with a particular highlight being the somewhat out of place Bond-esque theme song ‘Gun in my Hand’.
Of course, the most important aspect of any Telltale adventure is the quality of the story. It’s an area where The Walking Dead: Michonne delivers, but not without feeling somewhat restrictive due to the fact Michonne is a pre-existing character as opposed to one created specifically for the video game.
The game opens with Michonne in a troubled state, completely up against the odds due to the sheer amount of Walkers (Zombies) pursuing her. Whilst battling them, she’s haunted by visions of her presumed deceased daughters and the remains of an old family home. After fighting through both the visions and the horde of Walkers, Michonne contemplates taking her own life before meeting up with fellow survivor Pete. The game then fast forwards a few weeks with Michonne now joining Pete’s crew on board a fishing boat, finding a sense of solace on the waters as opposed to the Walker infested land. The peace doesn’t last, of course, with conflict arising when exploring a seemingly abandoned ferry after receiving a distress call…
The plot develops much further than that and sends you across a few different environments, but I don’t want to spoil that here. You’ll get the most enjoyment out of The Walking Dead: Michonne by playing through it yourself rather than having a review explain every twist and turn that the game offers. Of course, your playthrough could be completely different to mine – the game allows you to make different choices throughout that’ll not only affect different character’s relationships with Michonne but also how events will unfold.
You’ll need to put a lot of thought into the decisions you make in-game. Whilst many games offer multiple story routes, The Walking Dead: Michonne’s decisions actually make a huge difference – it can mean life and death for certain characters in the game or determine if another character will be willing to help you out when the going gets tough. The quality of the game’s script and character development actually makes you care for the game’s cast too, making you feel almost guilty if your actions lead to someone’s death. It’s powerful stuff and there were a few occasions where I regretted decisions I’d made. Nothing I couldn’t fix in my second playthrough though…
The characters in the game are likeable and well developed, though the game does suffer from featuring a few too many stereotypes. Spunky teenage girl? Check. Domineering female leader? Check. Borderline psychopathic henchman obsessed with killing? Double check. Whilst I’m not criticising the game’s characters there was no-one who really stood out as compared to those in the graphic novel series (or the other The Walking Dead games for that matter). Michonne is the most interesting character in the game, but she’s been pre-established and most of her actions are dictated by the player anyway.
The fact that I’ve seen so much of Michonne in the graphic novel and TV series became a bit of an issue for me though. Whilst Lee and Clementine were original characters created specifically for the previous games, Michonne is an established character whose personality I’ve come to know. It actually made me sway towards certain choices in the game – rather than thinking how I would react to each situation, I started to act in the way that I thought Michonne would. I just preferred it when I was using a character who had no past ties with the series and was almost a blank canvas, allowing me to make them as kind or cruel as I’d like.
Still, this personal bugbear doesn’t take anything away from the game. There’s still a quality script and story to be told, and whilst the ending is a little vague for those who haven’t seen Michonne’s adventures in the graphic novel it offers enough to get a sense of satisfaction and closure to the tale. The fact that the game was only three episodes long helped too – there was no filler, but instead constant action and story progression. I could appreciate that and it’ll be interesting to see if Telltale Games make more of these shorter adventures in the future.
Whilst The Walking Dead: Michonne offers a nice insight into a pre-existing character in The Walking Dead franchise, it felt like it didn’t offer the same freedom that the previous Telltale Games had. Sure, decisions were as impactful as ever, but I just felt a little restricted by Michonne’s pre-existing personality as opposed to the one I’d been able to craft for Lee and Clementine in the previous games.
Does this make it a bad game? Not at all. There’s still an entertaining story to uncover that’ll keep you gripped until the end, whilst the actions you take have a real impact on the tale – it’s certainly got me eagerly anticipating the upcoming third season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series…
– Another great story that’s tense and full of action
– Shorter mini-series means a lack of insignificant padding
– Great aesthetics and soundtrack
– Michonne’s pre-existing personality restricts freedom with the character
– The cast aren’t as interesting as in the previous games
Developer: Telltale Games (www.telltalegames.com)
Publisher: Telltale Games (www.telltalegames.com)
Release Date: 26/03/2016
Format(s): PC (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, iOS, Android