Telltale’s Walking Dead Series: Character Building or Crafting?

It is soon Halloween, so how fitting it is to write about a horror game! Recently me and @roosajokiaho got into a ”Walking Dead” game and TV show binge. The most interesting core storytelling of Walking Dead is that the zombies, or walkers, are not the centerpiece – it is actually the characters surrounded by those walkers. They have their agenda, motivations and ideals. It is hard to find the right path between the relationships. As a player, you have to make the choices who to sympathize with or give a cold shoulder to.

The series have come a long way. Starting with three main seasons with an additional mini Telltale series (400 Days), there are a huge array of characters and towns in the story. The formula follows very closely yo the TV series – each chapter has its own arc in a specific town or settlement. The gameplay is pretty straightforward with a mix of Quick Time Events (QTE) and conversation choices, but I wouldn’t want to start with explaining the mechanics of Telltale’s storytelling.

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Various Walking Dead seasons

Let’s turn the attention to the characters aspect, which I think is really the main selling point of the game series. I believe that the developers have succeeded in creating virtual human beings with realistic flaws. There is no certainty that you will hate or love the cast after the adventures. After playing the main seasons, I came to understand as a main character you need to accept two matters: Strong-willed personalities don’t always have compassion or empathy towards the weaker, which make them look heartless, and weak-willed characters might show more humane and are willing sacrifice themselves, but they don’t tend to survive till the end. There is no right or wrong when the world is at its end.

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Kill him or let him go?

Fortunately, the cast undergoes character development throughout the chapters. They have a change in their ideals and priorities, because of the events that happened in the story. As a result, they will act differently in later chapters. On top of it, they could change BECAUSE of the choices you made as the main character – at least that is what I believed when I was playing. As the player, you tend to feel a bond with the cast – what you do or say, matters to them and they will respond accordingly. In the big scheme of game development, I think this is pretty amazing because it is made so believable and even realistic – and you don’t even need realistic graphics to get there! You start to wonder if the cast is meant to always have the same character development or if it changes according to the player’s choices. I would like to think it is the latter, but we all know the reality in game development points at the former. Still, I had great fun playing the game series and would totally replay it when I feel the apocalypse is closing in.

If you haven’t caught up with Walking Dead games, you can now get them in a bundle on Steam. I totally recommended it, because I think the series is pretty much a masterpiece in storytelling.

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