For those who weren't aware, the hit comic turned mega hit basic cable program, "The Walking Dead," is getting the video game treatment. Given how zombies are a staple of interactive entertainment, it's easy to imagine something along the lines of "Resident Evil," "Dead Rising," or "Dead Island." But this latest game to prominently feature the undead is a break from the norm.
Not much has been said about the game since its unveiling at last year's San Diego Comic Con, which is why its makers, Telltale Games, have produced the following behind the scenes video, which includes conversations with the people involved in its creation:
For those who don't have time to watch the 13-minute plus clip: things kick off with a sit-down with Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman, the two lead designers. They explain how the game is closer to the comic, which they view as "canon," though fans of the AMC show will be able to follow along.
Players will assume the role of a new character, Lee Everett, who is a criminal on his way to jail, but finds freedom thanks to the zombie apocalypse. Along the way, Everett becomes acquainted with a little girl named Clementine, who has been orphaned due to the outbreak. As a non-playable, secondary character, she is intended to be a "lens that you can see your choices [within the game] though, and the story in general" explains Vanaman.
The two form a family of sorts, a theme heavily reinforced in the source material. Series creator, Robert Kirkman, and his involvement in the project was also discussed. When Telltale Games pitched their ideas, Kirkman was happy to hear his original narrative was not being regurgitated, even though certain characters are reused.
The game, or the first episode at least, takes place immediately after the outbreak, while the lead from the comic and the show is still in a coma (both follow Rick after he wakes up, and tries to cope with a world that has changed). Kirkman was also happy with Telltale Games' emphasis on the story. As Vanaman states, "It's not a headshot game" — referring to the fact that it's not the usual zombie kill-a-thon.
The middle of the video, which contains massive spoilers from the comics, is actually the best part. It shows various members of the developmental team explaining their favorite parts from assorted issues, and in the process shows they completely understand and respect the source material, which is not often the case with many comic/movie/tv show adaptations.
The final segment deals with how the game will play, and that's where things become vague. There has been little word on what gameplay will be like, and that hasn't changed. Telltale Games is mostly known for producing adventure games. Two of their most well known creations are also based on pop culture staples: "Back To The Future" and "Jurassic Park."
The former played like a traditional installment of the genre, in which the emphasis is on exploration, talking with other characters, and solving puzzles. The latter mixes it up by having action oriented segments controlled via Quick Time Events. Response to "Back To The Future" has been mixed at best, whereas "Jurassic Park" has been universally panned by critics and players alike.
And just like those two games, the "Walking Dead" game will be episodic and distributed digitally. No release date has been given.
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Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot, and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.