Telltale takes on a beloved comic book and television character’s side story with The Walking Dead: Michonne.
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC (Version Reviewed), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android, iOS
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Three years ago, Telltale Games released The Walking Dead: 400 Days as a way to tide people over as they waited for the highly-anticipated second season of The Walking Dead game series. We enjoyed it, but we knew what it was there to achieve. With Season Three now in the pipeline, some people have adopted the same mindset of this year’s The Walking Dead: Michonne. However, this is a mini-series that’s ready to take on a new life of its own.
The first episode introduces us to the mysterious character of Michonne, and the story sets out to explain her absence between issues #126 and #139 of The Walking Dead comic series. She’s a dangerous individual, and while Lee Everett may have possessed some adequate axe-wielding skills, Michonne is highly skilled in combat, especially when armed with a Katana.
To showcase these abilities, the game’s aspect ratio switches to a cinematic widescreen format. It’s occasionally off-putting, but also helps to craft the game’s identity. Camera angles are intentionally dramatic as Michonne sets about dismembering walkers in creative, brutal ways.
If you’re not a fan of the comics, you’ll probably find the opening moments of this episode confusing. The initial few minutes are packed with combat sequences, and I didn’t care for slicing up countless hordes of walkers so early on. When you are introduced to the first crucial decision of the episode, it’s intended to be a dramatic one, but I didn’t understand the character enough to engulf myself in the emotion of the scene.
After a stunning title sequence (seriously, this is the best one yet), things start to pick up. The game settles into a fairly slow pace as we get acquainted with each character. Suddenly, I’m reminded of how much I love Telltale’s envisioning of the Walking Dead universe. Characters, locations, and dialogue are decidedly similar to that of previous Walking Dead games, and I often reminisced about my adventures with Lee, Clementine and Kenny. It certainly feels like they all belong in the same world.
Talking of characters; there’s a selection of distinct personalities here. I found it difficult to step into Michonne’s shoes at times due to her previously-established personality. She’s a reserved and emotionally-troubled character, so it’s not always easy to understand her thought processes. The rest of the main characters are incorporated well into the narrative, and there’s room for them to develop over time. While there are a lot of stories to tell in this 90-minute-or-so episode, I still felt like I had enough time to get used to each individual. This is something that The Walking Dead: Season Two struggled with at times, so I’m glad they’ve taken steps to correct this. That said, I still wish the episode was a bit longer.
As the halfway point approaches, the plot starts to unravel, and it’s fairly similar to one of the plot elements we encountered in The Walking Dead: Season Two. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s a believable storyline, but it does feel a bit familiar. The last third of the game is a gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seat experience. Player Choices are utilized magnificently for an interrogation sequence in which telling the truth won’t always get you the best results.
By the end, I felt immersed and excited for the rest of the series, due to the first episode’s nail-biting ending. You’ll be glad to hear that there are two radically different endings that you might encounter based on the final decision you make.
In fact, towards the end, I stopped noticing the issues that I’d become aware of earlier in the episode. I’m still a fan of the game engine, and I love Telltale Games‘ visual style, but odd animations and occasional glitches took me out of the experience from time-to-time. I was particularly disappointed by other characters’ audio being cut-off by my own dialogue choices. I don’t recall this happening in any other recent Telltale releases (including The Walking Dead), so I don’t know why they haven’t followed the usual formula here.
Telltale Games has always been known for great storytelling, and this first episode follows that trend. It’s complimented by some stellar voice acting as usual, including Samira Wiley as the voice of Michonne. One of the best elements of the game is the outstanding soundtrack. It does a great job of blending into the background and emphasizing key moments without ever dominating the scene. It’s intentionally difficult to notice but acts as a key part of the overall experience.
Episode 1 of The Walking Dead: Michonne is a great start for a promising mini-series. While it’s easy to compare this game to Seasons One and Two, it’s a little unfair to do so. Instead, I see it as an exciting side-project that offers something different for fans of The Walking Dead and Telltale Games. This first episode isn’t ground-breaking by any means, but it’s a rewarding experience that leaves me excited for what’s to come.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.