The Walking Dead: Michonne is Telltale Games At Its Best

Thursday, 25 February 2016 - 7:37PM
The Walking Dead
Thursday, 25 February 2016 - 7:37PM
The Walking Dead: Michonne is Telltale Games At Its Best
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Tell-Tale Games is known for crafting games that are less about button mashing and more about narrative. They're also known for creating adaptive stories that tailor themselves to the choices the player makes in-game. While basically all of Tell-Tale's titles have been well received, it seems that the ones based on comic books stand out as some of their best. The Walking Dead Seasons 1 & 2 and The Wolf Among Us (a game taking place in the world of Vertigo's Fables) are particularly distinguished and critically acclaimed hits, showing that Tell-Tale's totally unique playing style really has something to offer to modern gamers.

Tell-Tale's most recent title just dropped on February 23rd, and though the total game is released in episodes, it would seem that based off of the first episode alone that The Walking Dead: Michonne could earn its place among the other Tell-Tale greats that have gone on before it. Set between issues 129-139 of the comics, the game is supposed to be the story of what happened to Michonne between her short departure and reunion with Rick and the rest of the group. 

Possible spoilers ahead! (Click to reveal)

The game starts off slow, with Michonne wandering alone in the wilderness and hallucinating about her two dead children and her old home. After a time, she puts a gun to her head, considering whether to commit suicide or not (the choice of whether to follow through is given to the player). Things change, however, when a man name Pete walks up at the last second to "save" her.

She joins Pete and his crew on their boat, as it seems they've been trying to ride out the zombie apocalypse by riding the waves on a small fishing vessel. The game starts to pick up when Pete can't hear any of his friends on the radio from another boat that's supposed to be in the same vicinity, and in its stead, he hears a young girl pleading for help. Eventually, Pete and Michonne head to the shore to check it out, but it's not an easy trip. Their dinghy is attacked by zombies that have been walking on the bottom of the sea, presumably from a ship wreck the two noticed earlier.

When they do arrive, they head into the ferry landing near the docks to see if they can locate Pete's friends or the girl on the radio signal. What they find is a group of people that have been systematically executed sometime before and a duffel bag full of supplies in the cafe area. They soon find out that this duffel bag belongs to two survivors, but these survivor's didn't come by it honestly. The bag's true owners show up soon enough, however, and Michonne and Pete are accused of being the duo's fellow thieves, as they're all zip-tied and taken to the group's headquarters.

This newly introduced group is run by two redneck siblings, Randall and Norma. It's pretty clear from the beginning that they're not the good guys, as they resort to beating people mercilessly when they don't get the answers they want. Of course they claim that they're not the ones who executed the group at the ferry, but the way they seem to be handling things seems to suggest otherwise.

Things reach a climax for the episode when Randall hands the gun to a nervous group member, Zachary, and demands that he gets answers from the "thieves." He's clearly not comfortable with the situation and was practically begging Randall to ease up on them beforehand, but his fear of the man evidently outweighs his sense of justice. In a quick sequence of events, Zachary shoots one of the thieves named Greg, a choice that Randall reprimands him for. He leads Zachary out of the room while Greg dies. His sister, Sam, is in the room as well, and she mourns over her brother's body while he begins to turn. The two quickly cut their zip-ties and Michonne kills off the walker, while Sam holds the thing that used to be her brother still.

Finally, episode one comes to an end when Zachary walks back into the room and Michonne dislodges his gun. She then chooses whether or not to stop Sam from getting revenge for her brother's death, and the episode ends shortly thereafter.

The Walking Dead: Michonne definitely shows that Tell-Tale is dedicated to improving on their games, as this first episode has definitely improved on some of the issues that were evident in past games from the studio - long load times, laggy gameplay, and too much time spent in point and click searches. None of those were evident to any large degree in this first episode, and due to this, it allows the player to focus more on what makes these games so fun and unique in the first place.

Just as well, the choices that the game allows the player to make are everything that Tell-Tale fans love and look forward to. Should Michonne be open with Pete about her past, or closed off? Does she try to escape the sinister group despite the odds, or does she sit tight and wait for the right moment? Does she allow Sam to kill someone who arguably deserves it, or does she stop her from murdering someone who simply made a bad decision? As the game and the supporting characters tailor themselves to the choices the player makes, these decisions put the player right in the moment and make the game just as gripping and intriguing as any episode of the TV show or any issue from the comics.

Also, the game definitely innovated quite a lot in this title, adding in new dynamics that weren't present in past Tell-Tale TWD games. Having hordes of zombies walking on the bottom of the ocean floor was exciting and somewhat terrifying. Likewise, the action sequences themselves are an improvement from past TWD games, as they seem much more fast paced and are based off of button prompting instead of the same old button mashing combat that's featured in most modern fighting games.

Of course, the game's already tying into the comics as well, which adds a nice touch for those who are dedicated readers of the comics and graphic novels. With Michonne hallucinating about her children more than once throughout the first episode, it fits very much with the short explanation of her absence she gives Rick upon her return to the group - that she knew she could never build a new life after the regret she felt for leaving her daughters during the outbreak. Likewise, she's first seen exiting a sailboat upon her return in the comics, and that fits in perfectly with the setting of TWD: Michonne.

All in all, TWD: Michonne is a welcome addition to Tell-Tale's other games, and if episode one is any indicator of how the final two will be, it could be one of their best yet. Of course, it's not perfect, and the style of gameplay doesn't appeal to everyone, but Tell-Tale's unique narrative based gameplay is definitely something every gamer needs to try out at least once.

Episode two drops in March - until then, here's a video of some gameplay as well as a graphic about what most of the players have chosen in the biggest decisions of the game yet.

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