The Walking Dead (video game)

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"The Walking Dead: Season One" redirects here. For the first season of the television series, see The Walking Dead (season 1).
For other uses, see Walking Dead (disambiguation).
The Walking Dead
TWD-game-cover.jpg
Developer(s) Telltale Games
Publisher(s) Telltale Games
Sony Computer Entertainment (Vita)
Director(s) Sean Vanaman
Jake Rodkin
Dennis Lenart
Eric Parsons
Nick Herman
Sean Ainsworth
Designer(s) Sean Vanaman
Jake Rodkin
Mark Darin
Harrison G. Pink
Andrew Langley
Sean Ainsworth
Writer(s) Sean Vanaman[1]
Mark Darin[2]
Gary Whitta[3]
Composer(s) Jared Emerson-Johnson
Series The Walking Dead
Engine Telltale Tool
Platform(s) Android
iOS
Kindle Fire HDX
Mac OS X
Microsoft Windows
Ouya
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
PlayStation Vita
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Graphic adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Download, optical disc

The Walking Dead (also known as The Walking Dead: The Game[5] and The Walking Dead: Season One[6]) is an episodic interactive drama graphic adventure video game developed and published by Telltale Games. Based on Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series, the game consists of five episodes, released between April and November 2012. It is available for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire HDX, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and Xbox 360; versions for the Ouya, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are planned for 2014.

The game takes place in the same fictional world as the comic, with events occurring shortly after the onset of the zombie apocalypse in Georgia. However, most of the characters are original to the game, which centers on university professor and convicted murderer Lee Everett, who helps to rescue and subsequently care for a young girl named Clementine. Kirkman provided oversight for the game's story to ensure it corresponded to the tone of the comic, but allowed Telltale to handle the bulk of the developmental work and story specifics. Some characters from the original comic book series also make in-game appearances.

Unlike many graphic adventure games, The Walking Dead does not emphasize puzzle solving, but instead focuses on story and character development. The story is affected by both the dialogue choices of the player and their actions during quick time events, which can often lead to, for example, certain characters being killed, or an adverse change in the disposition of a certain character or characters towards Lee. The choices made by the player carry over from episode to episode. Choices were also tracked by Telltale, and used to influence their writing in later episodes.

The Walking Dead has been critically acclaimed, with reviewers praising the harsh emotional tone of the story and the empathetic connection established between Lee and Clementine. It won year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications. More than one million unique players have purchased at least one episode from the series, with over 8.5 million individual episodes sold by the end of 2012, and its success has been seen as constituting a revitalization of the weakened adventure game genre. In July 2013, Telltale released an additional downloadable episode, 400 Days, to extend the first season and bridge the gap towards the second season. At the July 2014 San Diego Comic Con Telltale Games and Skybound have announced that a third season is being developed, and that the first two seasons to date have sold more than 28 million episodes.[7]

Gameplay[edit]

The Walking Dead is a graphic adventure, played from a third-person perspective with a variety of cinematic camera angles, in which the player, as protagonist Lee Everett, works with a rag-tag group of survivors to stay alive in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.[8] The player can examine and interact with characters and items, and must make use of inventory items and the environment. Throughout the game, the player is presented with the ability to interact with their surroundings, and options to determine the nature of that interaction. For example, the player may be able to look at a character, talk to that character, or if they are carrying an item, offer it to the character or ask them about it. According to Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead game is focused more on developing characters and story, and less on the action tropes that tend to feature in other zombie-based games, such as Left 4 Dead.[9]

A screenshot showing dialog choices. At certain points in the game's conversation trees, the player will have a limited amount of time to respond, shown at the bottom of this screen. If they don't respond in time, the game will default to the "no statement" (ellipses) option.

Some parts of the game require timed responses from the player, often leading to significant decisions that will impact the game's story, in the manner of role-playing games (RPGs).[10] Some conversation trees require the player to make a selection within a limited time, otherwise Lee will remain quiet, which can affect how other characters respond to him. Unlike in other RPGs such as the Mass Effect or Fallout series, where choices fall on either side of a "good or evil" scale, the choices within The Walking Dead have ambiguous results, having an effect on the attitude of the non-player characters towards Lee.[10] The player can opt to enable a "choice notification" feature, in which the game's interface indicates that a character has changed their disposition towards Lee as a result of these choices.[11] In more action-based sequences, the player must follow on-screen prompts for quick time events (QTEs) so as to keep themselves or other characters alive. If the player dies, the game restarts from just prior to the QTE. Other timed situations involve major decisions, such as choosing which of two characters to keep alive.

Each episode contains five points where the player must make a significant decision, choosing from one of two available options. Through Telltale's servers, the game tracks how many players selected which option and lets the player compare their choices to the rest of the player base. The game can be completed regardless of what choices are made in these situations; the main events of the story, as described below, will continue regardless of what choices are made, but the presence and behavior of the non-player characters in later scenes will be affected by these choices. The game does allow the player to make multiple saves, and includes a "rewind" feature where the player can back up and alter a previous decision, thus facilitating the exploration of alternative choices.[12]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting and characters[edit]

The Walking Dead occurs simultaneously with the events from the original comic series, where a zombie apocalypse overwhelms much of society.[13][14][15] Characters in the game come to call the zombies "walkers", due to the slowness of their movement. Although the survivors initially think that being bitten by a zombie is the only way to become infected, it is later discovered that one becomes a zombie upon death irrespective of the manner in which one dies; only by damaging the brain can the reanimation be stopped. As with the comic and television series, the game's events occur in the state of Georgia.

Several members of the main cast of survivors of The Walking Dead by Episode 4. From left, Christa, Omid, Kenny, Lee, Ben, and Chuck.

Numerous characters appear throughout the game. Lee Everett (voiced by Dave Fennoy[16]), the primary protagonist of the series, is a native of Macon and a former university professor convicted for killing a state senator who was sleeping with his wife.[17] Lee eventually finds and becomes a father figure to Clementine (voiced by Melissa Hutchison[18]), an eight year old whose parents went away for the weekend, leaving her with a babysitter. Lee and Clementine soon encounter a family from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Kenny (voiced by Gavin Hammon[19]), a fisherman who prioritizes his family above all else;[20] Katjaa, Kenny's wife, who works as a veterinarian (voiced by Cissy Jones[21]);[22] and Kenny and Katjaa's son, Kenny Jr. (voiced by Max Kaufman[23]), more commonly known as "Duck".[22] The five join a survivor group led by Lilly (voiced by Nicki Rapp[24]), who was formerly stationed on the Robins Air Force Base.[25] Lilly's group consists of multiple survivors, including Larry (voiced by Terry McGovern[26]), her aggressive and judgmental father, a retired U.S. Army commander who knows Lee's past;[27] Carley (voiced by Nicole Vigil[28]) a quick-thinking regional news reporter who is also aware of Lee's crimes;[25] Doug (voiced by Sam Joan[29]), a resourceful and logical information systems technician;[27] and Glenn (voiced by Nick Herman[30]), a former pizza delivery boy.[31] In the second episode, two more survivors join the group: Mark (voiced by Mark Middleton[32]), a survivor who used to work for the U.S. Air Force;[33] and Ben Paul (voiced by Trevor Hoffman[34]), a high school student rescued by Lee, Mark and Kenny. In the third episode, more characters are introduced; Chuck (voiced by Roger Jackson[35]), a level-headed homeless man who lives in a boxcar; and Omid and Christa (voiced by Owen Thomas[36] and Mara Junot[37] respectively), a young couple who tend to stay away from large groups. The fourth episode introduces two more characters; Molly (voiced by Erin Ashe[38]), an acrobatic and resourceful young woman who carries an ice axe; and Vernon (voiced by Butch Engle[39]), a doctor and leader of a group of cancer survivors hiding in the morgue of a hospital. The Stranger (voiced by both Anthony Lam[40] and Roger Jackson, though the latter only voices him when he's just the voice at the other end of the walkie-talkie) is a man that communicates to Clementine via her walkie-talkie as the group nears Savannah.

Plot[edit]

The following summary is a broad overview of the work, describing the major events that occur regardless of player choice. Some specific elements not listed here will change based on the impact of player choices.

The game opens with Lee Everett on his way to prison after his conviction in Atlanta, Georgia. En route, the deputy sheriff's car in which he is travelling strikes a walker and careens off-road. Lee is knocked unconscious, awakening hours later to find the deputy lying outside the vehicle. Fleeing the car, Lee is attacked by the officer, who has turned into a walker, and Lee is forced to kill him. He takes shelter in a nearby home, discovering a little girl named Clementine hiding in her tree house. After learning that her parents had previously left for Savannah, Lee offers to protect and care for Clementine, and help her find them.

They then travel to a nearby farmstead, owned by Hershel Greene, where Lee is introduced to Kenny, his wife Katjaa and their son Duck. When Shawn, Hershel's son, is lost to a walker attack, Hershel banishes the group from his home. Lee and Clementine join Kenny and head towards Macon. There, they find shelter with several other survivors in a drugstore that had been owned by Lee's family, a fact he keeps to himself. While trying to recover medicine from the pharmacy, they set off the alarm and are forced to abandon the store, finding safety in a motel with a defensible perimeter.

Though protected from walkers, Lee and the survivors struggle to find food, and after three months, are at the last of their supplies. However, they are then approached by the St. Johns, a family who own a nearby dairy. The group exchange gasoline to power the St. Johns' electric fence for food and shelter. However, while on the dairy, Lee and Kenny discover the St. Johns have engaged in cannibalism, and the group flee, leaving the St. Johns to their fate as the farm is overrun by walkers. As they return to the motel, they find a seemingly abandoned car full of provisions, which they share out among themselves.

The group soon learns that the St. Johns had a deal with local bandits; they would give the bandits food and in exchange the bandits would not attack the dairy. Upon the death of the St. Johns, however, the bandits now turn their attention to the motel. They launch an attack that attracts walkers, and the group is forced to abandon their base and supplies. During the attack, Duck is bitten. After driving for a time, the group come upon a freight train. Lee and Kenny manage to get the train working, and the group head towards Savannah, with the intention of finding a boat and getting out onto the ocean, away from the walkers. During the trip, Duck's condition worsens, and the group stop to deal with him before he turns. Katjaa commits suicide over the loss, and Kenny and Lee are forced to euthanize Duck. After the train's way is blocked by a truck, the group encounter Christa and Omid, two other survivors who join them.

Nearing Savannah, Clementine's walkie-talkie goes off. An unknown man tells her she will be safe once he deals with Lee and the group, and promises her that her parents are waiting for her. The group takes shelter in a well-fortified mansion, and Lee and Kenny head towards the pier to find a boat. There, they meet Molly, who informs them there are no boats left in the city, and whatever useful supplies remain are being held in Crawford, a fortified community who don't permit the elderly, the sick, or children into their ranks.

When walkers attack, Lee is separated from the group, and he makes his way back to the mansion through the sewers. While there, he discovers Vernon and his group hiding in a hospital morgue. Vernon returns with Lee back to the mansion, where Clementine has discovered a boat in the shed. It lacks fuel and a battery, but both items can be obtained in Crawford. Lee and the group plan an invasion, but once there, they find the entire population has turned into walkers. They quickly gather the necessary supplies and leave. Molly, realizing the boat won't hold everyone, takes her leave of the group. Vernon likewise departs, but not before warning Lee that he doesn't think he is an appropriate father-figure for Clementine, and offering to take care of her instead.

The next morning, Lee wakes to find Clementine missing, and in his haste to find her, he is attacked and bitten by a walker. Initially suspecting Vernon, Lee finds the morgue abandoned, when Clementine's walkie-talkie goes off. The man on the other end reports that he has Clementine. He challenges Lee to come and find her. Clementine is able to reveal to Lee where she is being held, and Lee heads back to the house only to find that the boat and other supplies have been stolen by Vernon's group. As the group head to rescue Clementine, Kenny sacrifices himself attempting to save another character. As they cross the rooftops, Lee is separated from the others, and he instructs the survivors to wait for him and Clementine at the edge of town, making them promise to care for her after he is gone.

Lee makes his way to the hotel where Clementine is captive. The man holding her explains that he was the owner of the car that the group ransacked after leaving the dairy, and as a result, he lost his family to walkers. Lee realizes the man has gone insane, and with Clementine's help, kills him. He then helps to cover Clementine in walker blood, disguising her from the other walkers. As they leave the hotel, however, Clementine spots her parents, both of whom have turned into walkers, and Lee collapses to the ground. Clementine drags him into a jeweller's, pulling the shutter down and locking them in. However, Lee realizes he is near conversion, and instructs her to escape the city and meet the other survivors at the edge of town. In his final moments, Lee guides Clementine past a walker near the back-door, and says goodbye to her. The player can choose to have Lee instruct Clementine to either kill him or leave him be and become a walker, or can opt to do nothing, where Clementine will choose an action based on the culmination of the player's choices within the game.[40]

After the game's credits, Clementine is seen walking in a field by herself. She spots two figures in the distance. After a moment, they stop walking and turn to look in her direction.

Episodes[edit]

The game was separated into five episodes, released in two-month intervals.

Episode Written by Release date
Original release
(PC, OS X, X360, PS3)
iOS release
Episode 1 – "A New Day" Sean Vanaman[41] April 24, 2012 July 26, 2012
At the onset of the zombie apocalypse, Lee rescues young Clementine, and joins with other survivors in Macon, Georgia to protect themselves from the undead.
Episode 2 – "Starved for Help" Mark Darin[42]
Story by Chuck Jordan
June 27, 2012 August 29, 2012
After having secured a motel, Lee and the other survivors run low on food, and decide to take an offer made by the St. Johns, a family who own a nearby dairy farm. They come to learn the St. Johns may not be what they seem.
Episode 3 – "Long Road Ahead" Sean Vanaman[1]
Story by Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin & Harrison G. Pink
August 28, 2012 October 18, 2012
When bandits and walkers attack the motel, the group is forced to flee without their supplies, leading to tensions on the road and the group find an operating train, heading to Savannah, where Clementine hopes to find her parents.
Episode 4 – "Around Every Corner" Gary Whitta[43] October 9, 2012 November 8, 2012
The survivors arrive in Savannah to search for a boat only to get caught in a conflict involving a corrupt community and an elusive enemy, whom Clementine has been contacting.
Episode 5 – "No Time Left" Sean Vanaman[44] November 20, 2012 November 20, 2012
Lee and the remaining survivors travel across the now infested Savannah in an effort to rescue Clementine from the Marsh House.

Supplemental episodes[edit]

An additional episode, titled "400 Days", was released in July 2013 as downloadable content, bridging the gap between the first and second season. It focuses on five new characters, and is presented in a nonlinear narrative style; players can approach the five stories in any order they choose.[45]

Episode Written by Release date
Original release
(PC, OS X, X360, PS3)
iOS release
DLC – "400 Days" Sean Vanaman, Sean Ainsworth, Nick Breckon, Mark Darin, Gary Whitta July 2, 2013 July 2, 2013
The story focuses on five new characters during the first 400 days of the zombie outbreak: Vince, a convicted criminal; Wyatt, who is fleeing from an unknown pursuer; Russell, who is trying to discover his grandmother's fate; Bonnie, a drug addict; and Shel, who is fleeing with her sister Becca. The epilogue follows Tavia, who is trying to save other survivors.[46]

Development[edit]

Rights[edit]

Prior to The Walking Dead, Telltale Games had made several successful episodic adventure games based on established properties, including three "seasons" of Sam & Max based on the comics and prior video games, and the five-episode Tales of Monkey Island, which followed on from the video game series. In 2010, the company secured the rights to two licensed movie properties from Universal Studios, resulting in Back to the Future: The Game and Jurassic Park: The Game. The latter included elements atypical of adventure games, including more action-oriented sequences incorporating quick time events, and was inspired by Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain.[47]

In February 2011, Telltale announced deals with Warner Bros. to develop episodic series based on both The Walking Dead and Fables.[48][49] For The Walking Dead, the agreement including provisions for "multi-year, multi-platform, multi-title" arrangements, with an initial episodic series release to commence in the fourth quarter of 2011.[50]

Writing[edit]

During development of the game, Robert Kirkman and the comic publisher Skybound Entertainment worked with Telltale.[51] According to Kirkman, he had previously played Telltale's Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, and felt that they "were more focused on telling a good story, and I thought they were good at engaging the player in the narrative."[52] Telltale approached him with a proposal which, according to Kirkman, "involved decision-making and consequences rather than ammunition gathering or jumping over things." The proposal's emphasis on the survival aspect of the comics, and the need for the player to make choices between two bad options sold him on the project.[52] Since then, Kirkman became involved with Telltale, mostly providing oversight on what aspects of the story were appropriate components of The Walking Dead universe, in much the same manner as he does for the television show, staying out of the direct development process.[52] Dan Connors, CEO of Telltale, stated that working with Kirkman made it easier for Telltale to craft its story and introduce new characters, instead of having to work with those already established in the comic.[51][53] One of the few demands Kirkman asked of Telltale was to avoid telling anything involved with the comic's main character, Rick Grimes, as Kirkman has stated long-term plans with the character in other media.[53] Kirkman had not been impressed with an early build of the first episode, but by the time they had presented him with a near-final build, Kirkman told the Telltale team, "Holy shit guys, you did it", according to the game's co-lead developer Jake Rodkin.[54]

Connors stated that from a gameplay perspective, they had looked to games such as Heavy Rain and the Uncharted series as a basis for in-game cinematics, while the idea of giving the player choice was influenced by the Mass Effect series.[51] In addition to the television version of The Walking Dead, Telltale took cues from Game of Thrones and Mad Men in terms of how to develop characters within a brief time.[51]

The game's story was written with the final scene in the fifth episode, where Clementine either shoots Lee or walks away to let him become a walker, as the established ending that the game would build towards.[40][55] As such, the character of Clementine was considered critical to the game's writing, and the team spent much time making her the "moral compass" for the game, while assuring that as a child character, she would not come off to the player as whining or annoying.[55] Similarly, the scene with the Stranger in the hotel room was planned very early in development, and also used to review the player's decisions on a moral basis, allowing the player to respond, if they desired, to the allegations.[40] Each episode was developed by pairing a writer and a game designer so that the plot and gameplay style for that episode would work in cooperation and avoid having one feel detached from the other, according to Vanaman.[54] As such, certain gameplay ideas were left out of the game; one example given by Vanaman was a scene where everyone in the survivor group was firing on a wall of zombies, but as this would lead to a discrete success or failure, it did not fit in with the sense of panic they wanted to convey in the scene.[54]

Choice[edit]

A major aspect in the writing The Walking Dead was the concept of death, whether for the player or non-player characters. Telltale itself was formed from many former LucasArts employees, who had previously written games where the player could not die.[56] As such, they introduced situations where Lee would die if the player did not react fast enough, although the game would restart just before these events, and situations where non-player characters would die based on the player's on-the-spot decisions.[56] This latter aspect was designed to maintain the game's pace, and led to the idea of tracking the player's decisions. Telltale's development tools and engines had previously included means of tracking players' progress, but the use in The Walking Dead was more explicit, revealing global statistics.[56]

The ultimate goal of introducing non-game-ending choices into the game was to make the player more invested in the story and more likely to avoid using the rewind feature. Telltale spent a great deal of time to assure that no choice would appear to be punishing to the player, though ultimately "all choices are equally wrong", according to Whitta.[54] The writers wanted to create choices that would appear to have a significant impact on the story but ultimately would be mostly inconsequential to the larger story.[54] At major decision points, the writers' aim was try to have the audience split evenly by making the dialog as neutral as possible prior to the choice; they considered that a split of 75 to 25 percent was not ideal.[56] They noted such cases occurred in both the first episode, where the player has an option to save Carley (the "hot reporter with a gun") or Doug (the "dorky dude"), with the vast majority of players saving Carley,[41] and in the second episode, where the player is given the option to cut off Parker's leg before they are attacked by Walkers or leave him behind, with most players cutting off the leg.[42] As such, in subsequent episodes, they worked to modify dialog to eliminate any sense of suggestion, leaving the notion of the 'right' choice ambiguous, and totally up to the player him- or herself.[56]

In some cases, the writers had to work around the established characters and chronology from the comic series. In the first episode, for example, the player is introduced to Hershel Greene, who is established in the comics as a bitter character due to witnessing his son Shawn turn into a walker in the early stages of the outbreak. One of the first decisions the player makes is whether to save Shawn or Duck; however, either choice results in Shawn being bitten, so as to maintain the comic's continuity; only the manner in which he is bitten is changed. The major consequence aspect of the choice instead involves how Kenny feels towards Lee.[41] In other cases, Telltale designed scenes and choices knowing how the majority of players would be predisposed to certain characters. One example is the character of Larry, who is introduced in the first episode as a hard-nosed jerk. Based on the statistical feedback, Telltale recognized that most players would want to either abandon or kill Larry at the first opportunity, and as such, they created a conversation tree in episode two where Lilly goes some way to redeem Larry in the eyes of the player. The idea was that this might influence the player when they must choose whether to help Kenny kill Larry, who may, or may not, have died from a heart attack and be on the verge of turning. Telltale found that 75% of the players now wanted to save Larry, a result they had expected.[42]

The writers also used the decision statistics from previous episodes to develop the direction of future ones. Gary Whitta, the writer of the fourth episode, specifically reviewed all the statistics from the previous three episodes to determine the general development of the episode's story. One example involved the death of Duck in the third episode. In that episode, the player must chose to either kill Duck for Kenny, or have Kenny do it himself. In the fourth episode, Whitta wrote a scene where Kenny finds a similar-looking boy, who has starved to death in an attic and come back as a walker. Again, the player is faced with the choice of whether to kill the boy themselves or have Kenny do it. They also included a third choice, in which the player would simply walk away, leaving the boy as a walker trapped in the attic, but this decision would harshly affect the disposition of the others characters towards Lee.[43] By the first act of episode 5, there were 32 variations due to past player choices that they had to write towards.[40] The number of possible scenarios were considered necessary to make the game feel "organic" to the individual player, making the player feel like they weaved their own story within the game instead of just taking a specific route through the choices.[40]

Art[edit]

Telltale's art director, Derek Sakai, led the creation of the characters and their expressions. Sakai was told to not use symmetric expressions to help create more human-like expressions and help improve the realism of the game.[54] Sakai drew inspiration from his own daughter to develop the character of Clementine.[55]

Multi-platform[edit]

The game engine used for The Walking Dead was optimized so as to facilitate the multi-platform nature of the release, which included PCs, gaming consoles and mobile devices, with the aim of minimizing the work in porting.[57] However, the development team still focused on achieving the best control schemes for each platform; in particular, the touchscreen control scheme on mobile devices was based on experience gained during the development of the Back to the Future game.[57] A major challenge through the development of all five episodes was the save game file format, which they continually have to update and fix across platforms, and in some cases, causing existing save files to become invalid.[53] Unique fixes applied for earlier episodes on one platform would reappear as problems in later ones.[53] Connors stated that for the next series, they will be "a lot more diligent" on the save game issues, using data gathered during the first season development and information on how players would approach the game.[53]

In previous series developed by Telltale for multiple platforms, they had had difficulty in timing releases to reach all players at the same time. One aspect of this was due to issues encountered on the Xbox Live Arcade service for the Xbox 360; for small publishers, like Telltale at the time, they had to arrange with larger publishers to allocate a slot within the Arcade's release schedule several months in advance, making it difficult to coordinate with releases on other platforms.[56] After the success of the Back to the Future and Jurassic Park games, however, Telltale were able to officially achieve a publisher status on Xbox Live, giving them more control of the release schedule. Furthermore, they had designed the game such that the second through fifth episodes would be treated as downloadable content, allowing them to bypass slot scheduling and assuring same-day release on both PCs and consoles.[56]

A version for the Ouya console, including the 400 Days content, is currently in development at Telltale.[58]

Downloadable content and sequels[edit]

The first series proved successful, leading Telltale to begin development of a second episodic season.[59][60] The first episode of the second season was released in the fourth quarter of 2013.[61][62][63] One aspect they are investigating is if players will be able to reuse their saved game from the first season as a seed to impact the development of the second.[51] According to Connors, Telltale is working at trying to determine how to incorporate what players liked best from the first series into the second, while considering how and by what means they will continue the story, and include the possibility of tying in more of the characters from the television show. Connors also stated they are looking for ways to keep players engaged between the episodic releases.[64]

In February 2013, writer Whitta suggested that there may also be some material released before the second season to tide players over until then.[65] This was revealed to be the aforementioned 400 Days downloadable content, revealed at the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo following a week of brief Vine video teaser movies posted by Telltale, introducing the five main characters in the added episode.[66] The content uses information from the player's saved game from the first season, and decisions made within 400 Days will continue into season two. The content was made available on the game's existing platforms between July 2 and 11, 2013, while a special bundled edition of the PlayStation Vita, including the full Walking Dead game and 400 Days content, was released on August 20, 2013.[46][67][68][69][70][71] A "Game of the Year" edition of The Walking Dead, including all five episodes and 400 Days, was released for retail for the Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 platforms on November 19, 2013.[61]

At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International, Telltale confirmed there will be a third season of The Walking Dead.[7]

Marketing and release[edit]

The Walking Dead was originally announced as a five-episode series with approximately monthly releases as digital downloads for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 systems. Its release was slated for late 2011, but it was ultimately pushed back to April 2012.[72][73] This date was shortly after the conclusion of the final episode of the second season of The Walking Dead television show, providing a means for the game to ride the popularity of the show.[57]

Telltale later announced that they would provide a disc-based release of the complete game for these platforms on December 11, 2012, after the release of the fifth episode.[74][75] Exclusive to GameStop stores in North America is the Collector's Edition, which includes new artwork by Charlie Adlard and The Walking Dead: Compendium One, a comic book that embody the first 48 issues of the series by Robert Kirkman.[76] Following the retail release, some Xbox 360 owners without large storage options reported stuttering issues with the disc-based game; Telltale compensated these users with free codes to download the full series digitally.[77]

An iOS version of the game was announced in August 2012, with episodes released shortly after their computer/console debut.[78] Later, after the full release of all five episodes to the App Store, Telltale offered the first episode for free, something they had done in the past, as doing so, according to Dan Connors, "opens the funnel and gets it out to more people who can then convert into the [full] game".[57]

In March 2013, Telltale announced that The Walking Dead will be ported to the PlayStation Vita, later revealed in June 2013 to be a retail release, including a special Vita bundle package that would include the game, the 400 Days episode, and additional content.[68][79]

In November 2013, Telltale announced a Game of the Year edition of The Walking Dead will be released for retail release for PC, Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3. It will include all 5 episodes, the 400 Days DLC episode, the original score & a behind the scenes feature. Releases for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles were announced in May 2014 with release at a later date, along with retail versions of the game for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.[80]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Episode 1 – A New Day (PS3) 85.14%[81]
(X360) 83.87%[82]
(PC) 83.38%[83]
(PS3) 84[84]
(PC) 82[85]
(X360) 79[86]
Episode 2 – Starved for Help (PC) 86.53%[87]
(X360) 86.26%[88]
(PS3) 85.90%[89]
(PC) 84[90]
(X360) 84[91]
(PS3) 84[92]
Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead (X360) 88.47%[93]
(PS3) 86.11%[94]
(PC) 85.41%[95]
(X360) 88[96]
(PS3) 87[97]
(PC) 85[98]
Episode 4 – Around Every Corner (PC) 84.22%[99]
(X360) 82.50%[100]
(PS3) 78.94%[101]
(X360) 82[102]
(PS3) 81[103]
(PC) 80[104]
Episode 5 – No Time Left (PC) 94.75%[105]
(X360) 88.15%[106]
(PS3) 87.75%[107]
(PC) 89[108]
(X360) 89[109]
(PS3) 88[110]
Special Episode – 400 Days (PS3) 78.20%[111]
(PC) 78.00%[112]
(X360) 76.88%[113]
(X360) 80[114]
(PS3) 78[115]
(PC) 78[116]

The Walking Dead received worldwide critical acclaim, with reviewers giving praise for the harsh emotional tone, the characters and the resemblance to the original comic book, although criticizing the graphical glitches. The game received over 80 Game of the Year awards and many other awards.

Episode 1 – A New Day received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version 85.14% and 84/100,[81][84] the Xbox 360 version 83.87% and 79/100[82][86] and the PC version 83.38% and 82/100.[83][85] The game received various accolades including the IGN "Editors' Choice", PC Gamer "Editors' Choice", Xbox Editors' Choice Award, and the PlayStation Gold Award.

Episode 2 – Starved for Help received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 86.53% and 84/100,[87][90] the Xbox 360 version 86.26% and 84/100[88][91] and the PlayStation 3 version 85.90% and 84/100.[89][92] The game won the GameSpy E3 2012 award for "Best Adventure Game".[117]

Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 88.47% and 88/100,[93][96] the PlayStation 3 version 86.11% and 87/100[94][97] and the PC version 85.41% and 85/100.[95][98] IGN's Greg Miller gave it a 9 out of 10, saying "It's a disturbing, depressing and entertaining entry in a journey that's been nothing short of excellent so far."[118] GameSpot gave the game an 8.5, saying "The Walking Dead has passed the midway point of its series of five episodes with every indication that the game will keep getting better right through to its inevitably depressing and unsettling conclusion."[119] MTV also gave it a positive review, saying "Telltale has created a series of wrenching, emotional decisions in the middle of a collection of not-too-hard puzzles in a visually-impressive adaptation of the Robert Kirkman comic series (with some nods to the TV show)."[120]

Episode 4 – Around Every Corner received positive reviews, but slightly less than the other episodes. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 84.22% and 80/100,[99][104] the Xbox 360 version 82.50% and 82/100[100][102] and the PlayStation 3 version 78.94% and 81/100.[101][103]

Episode 5 – No Time Left received critical acclaim. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 94.75% and 89/100,[105][108] the Xbox 360 version 88.15% and 89/100[106][109] and the PlayStation 3 version 87.75% and 88/100.[107][110]

400 Days received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version 78.20% and 78/100,[111][115] the PC version 78.00% and 78/100[112][116] and the Xbox 360 version 76.88% and 80/100.[113][114]

Sales[edit]

The positive reception for The Walking Dead has translated into strong sales for the game, aided by the ease of digital distribution.[121] The first episode topped the charts on Xbox Live Arcade for the week of April 30,[122] and remained at the top for two weeks. It also topped the sales charts for both PlayStation Network and Steam for a week.[123] The first episode sold one million copies in 20 days (not including iOS sales), making it Telltale's fastest selling title to date.[123] With the third episode's release, over 3.8 million episodes were delivered to 1.2 million players.[121] As of January 2013, over 8.5 million episodes have been sold across all platforms, representing about $40 million in revenue.[57] Telltale's CEO Dan Connors has stated that the iOS version represented about 25% of their overall sales, the "largest upswing" for any platform, with sale particularly high in November and December 2012, due in part due to various sales on the App Store.[57] Upon announcement of the 400 Days content, Telltale reported that over 17 million episodes have been purchased across all platforms worldwide,[124] while by October 2013, at the time of the formal announcement of Season Two, over 21 million episodes have been sold.[61]

Accolades[edit]

The Walking Dead has been described as representing a revitalization of the adventure game genre,[125] which had been in decline since the mid-1990s.[126] Telltale have been praised for taking their previous experiences in the genre and expanding on them, whilst also incorporating strong writing and voice acting; Gamasutra and Game Developer named the studio one of the top 10 developers in 2012.[127]

The Walking Dead has garnered many other 2012 "Game of the Year" awards, notably from USA Today, Wired, Complex, GamesRadar and Official Xbox Magazine.[128][129][130][131][132] The Walking Dead was awarded "Game of the Year", "Best Adapted Video Game", and "Best Downloadable Game" at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards; Melissa Hutchison's role as Clementine was named as "Best Performance By a Human Female", while Dave Fennoy was nominated for "Best Performance by a Human Male". Telltale Games was also named as "Studio of the Year".[133] The game was awarded "Best Downloadable Game" and "Best Character Design" for Lee Everett at the 2012 Inside Gaming Awards.[134] The Walking Dead was Destructoid's 2012 "Game of the Year" and "Best Multi-Platform Game".[135][136] Digital Trends awarded the game with "Best Writing", "Best Digitally Distributed Game", and "Game of the Year" for 2012.[137] Yahoo! Games' Flan Dering listed The Walking Dead as his "Game of the Year" and "Best Downloadable Game" for 2012.[138][139] For the 2013 D.I.C.E. Interactive Achievement Awards, The Walking Dead was nominated for eight awards,[140] and won for "Adventure Game of the Year", "Downloadable Game of the Year", "Outstanding Achievement in Story", and "Outstanding Character Performance" for the character of Lee.[141] The Walking Dead won the "Best Narrative" award[142] and received nominations for "Best Downloadable Game" and "Game of the Year" for the 2013 Game Developer's Choice Awards.[143] The Walking Dead won the "Story" and "Mobile & Handheld" awards at the 2013 British Academy Video Games Awards,[62] and was nominated for "Best Game", "Game Design", and "Original Music" for the 2013 British Academy Video Games Awards, along with separate "Performance" nominations for Fennoy and Hutchinson for their roles as Lee and Clementine, respectively.[144] In March 2013, the game was nominated for and won several Pocket Gamer Awards categories, including iOS Game of the Year.[145]

A virtual pinball table based on this series is being developed jointly by Telltale Games and Zen Studios to be released in mid-2015 as downloadable content for Zen Pinball 2.[146]

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External links[edit]