To say that Telltale Games’ Walking Dead series was revolutionary would be an understatement. Not only did the first entry define a whole form of storytelling in video games and the set the foundation for future titles from the developer, but it did so to massive critical success – something that was highlighted when it received the 2012 ‘Game of the Year’ award at the Spike Video Games Awards.
We all know how things panned out for Telltale Games though and it was a relief to even see the final season get finished. Skybound Games have decided that the series deserves one last hurrah though and has released The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series – a collection of the four mainline entries in the series, the Michonne spin-off and the 400 Days DLC, with all-new improvements and additions included to spice up the package. Basically, it offers everything that someone new to the series could possibly want, though returning gamers eager for one last bite will enjoy seeing the series at its definitive best.
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series’ narrative spans across each game included, with the four main entries focusing on the plight of Clementine: a young girl who you protect as protagonist Lee in the first game, but who you play as in a more heroic role in the second and final entry in the series. Whilst Clementine is the focus though, there are so many stories intertwined involving all of the characters that you meet, so it’s easy to find yourself totally invested into the experience; you’ll see moments of joy, sadness, anger, and relief throughout the game and it’s hard not to find yourself getting absorbed into the entirety of each game. This is all helped by the stellar voice acting though, with every character you encounter in the game giving a believable performance that resonates with the dire position they find themselves in. The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series simply offers a story that’s hard not to get completely enthralled by.
Whilst it’s definitely a narrative-focused experience, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series still offers plenty for the player to do. You’ll be exploring the environment and interacting with the characters you encounter (this is fleshed out even more in later entries), finding items to complete puzzles or to give to characters, and, of course, making the choices that’ll alter the course of the game.
These choices will ultimately define your experience with The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series and determine how the story plays out. Whilst some of these choices are menial in the grand scheme of things, some will completely change the relationship you have with characters in the game and will determine their fate or whether or not they will help you if you’re in need. It can be a little stressful making these decisions (in a good way) and there’s rarely a ‘right or wrong’ approach to take; ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how you react to each situation and then deal with the consequences after.
Oh, and those who like a bit more action will be glad to see there are QTEs to spice up the experience a bit. These are typically associated with encounters with zombies and will determine your wellbeing, so get ready to mash some buttons at the right time or quickly move some cursors if you want to survive the game’s deadly world. Admittedly, previous editions of the game have seen some of these QTEs feel a little less responsive than I would have liked, but I’m happy to report that I had no problem at all with any of them in The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series.
Besides the fact that players have got every entry in the series to play through, there’ve also been some new additions and improvements made to each game. There’s a music player that includes over forty tracks from across each game, a 3D model viewer to take a closer look at the friends and foes you encounter on your journey and behind the scenes looks at each game that features developer commentary. It’s interesting stuff that players returning to the games will certainly find interesting, plus the extra insights really show the love and care that went into crafting the character-driven narrative.
The improvements are mostly visual, with each game in the collection featuring the ‘Graphic Black’ art style that was utilised in the series’ final entry. This gives everything more of a graphic novel flair; granted, it could be argued that all of the games look like they’ve come out of a graphic novel anyway, but all of the black colours in the game are given more definition when compared to the lighter ones. It’s a neat touch and gives returning players a chance to see the earlier games in a new light, so it’s certainly a plus. Gameplay improvements have been made too though, with the UI seeing several enhancements, the lip syncing being more co-ordinated, and the general performance seeing an improvement across the board. This is something that will definitely be appreciated given Telltale Games’ notoriety for performance issues in the past, and in fairness this is the best I’ve seen any game under their banner ever perform – that’s a pretty good accomplishment from Skybound Games.
It wouldn’t be a Telltale Games release without some issues though, right? Whilst most of the serious issues that have plagued the series have been eradicated here, you can still expect to see some drops in the frame rate and the occasional graphical issue. It’s almost endearing in some ways given that it’s something that gamers have gotten used to when playing the games, but they’re pretty obvious at times and can take away from the cinematic vibe that The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series works to present.
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series has always been a special collection of games, and whilst the later entries might not have been held with the same endearment as the first two seasons, there’s simply no denying the quality of storytelling found across them all. Add to that the fact that The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series actually sees SOME performance improvements as well as the addition of some bonus extras, and you’ll quickly find that it’s undoubtedly the best way to experience the famed series in its entirety.
Games, Skybound Games
Publisher: Skybound Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC