We have been conditioned to believe that killing zombies is simple — just carry a big gun (or plant peas in your garden) and survival is guaranteed. From games such as Dead Island and Dead Rising it seems clear that zombies have no chance against the might of a singular action hero.
But what if the zombie apocalypse were to happen tomorrow? Would zombie slasher game Left 4 Dead help steel your decision to kill familiar faces turned unpleasantly undead when the time comes? If you are as worried as I am, perhaps Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: A New Day would be better preparation for the dawn of the dead.
Based on the popular comic book series — which spawned an award-winning TV series — The Walking Dead is an action-adventure game where you play Lee Everett, a man caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. After the car he’s in careens over a cliff while avoiding a zombie, he is left alone to fend for survival in a deserted Austin town.
The Walking Dead lurches away from endless action, instead focusing on the relationships between you and the strangers you meet, some friendlier than others. Each decision you take and comment you make will stick in their minds, especially when you choose to lie to them about yourself.
That is not to say there is no action — you will still have to take down zombies when they get too close — but the true heart-pounding moments are when you have to choose which of the two precious lives you have to save as the decision timer ticks away.
These sudden split-second decisions will have you questioning your moral compass, and the game ensures that you remember your choices when it recaps the key decisions that you have made at the end of the game. These decisions matter — and the repercussions will haunt you into the rest of the series, as A New Day is the first of five episodes in a series.
It is not that action zombie games are not enjoyable, but focusing on gratuitous violence robs us of what the zombie genre can offer: Thought provoking stories and actual deep-seated fear.
Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Satre famously wrote “hell is other people” — and, after spending time in The Walking Dead game, you would agree heartily.
The Walking Dead is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac and iOS.
This review was originally posted on TODAYonline by Alvin Chong