Review: The Walking Dead (PlayStation Vita)

The Walking Dead: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 766 views 0 likes 2 comments
Reviewed by Thomas Hugh, posted Aug 30, 2013
I am new to The Walking Dead series having only tried the demo of the first episode on the Xbox 360. The series has won multiple awards as well as the highly prestigious Game of the Year (goty) for 2012. Once I heard that the Vita was to recieve a port of all 5 episodes and the '400 Days' DLC, I purposely steered clear of any news about the game to avoid any potential spoilers to the story.
Aug 30, 2013
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Genres: Adventure
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
When the Vita was first announced it was touted as being capable of a console experience on-the-go. The Walking Dead is an episodic console game and is a direct port for the PS Vita. As there is still no EU release date for the game, I decided to import the USA version to see for myself what all the fuss is about! Is this the first real console experience on the PS Vita? Read on to find out!
Thomas Hugh

attachThumb4171

The term interactive movie gets thrown around quite a lot in the video game world.  Games such as Metal Gear Solid, Heavy Rain and most recently The Last of Us are sometimes given the term by gamers across various message boards on the internet.  The Walking Dead falls into the category of interactive movie.  It is marketed as a point and click adventure game but there are no puzzles to solve or combining of items, and clicking around each screen in the correct order is the only way to advance the story.  Whilst playing the game it really reminded me of 2005's Fahrenheit, aesthetically.

Story

The story starts out with the protagonist Lee Everett handcuffed in the back of a police car on his way to prison for an unknown crime.  Whilst talking to the trooper up front, something happens on the highway causing the car to crash. This is Mr. Everetts chance to escape. Upon escaping the vehicle Lee hears a groaning in the distance and shouts out for help, but as the silhouette approaches, Lee is overcome by fear as he realizes his potential savior is in fact, a brain dead, feet shuffling zombie!

attachThumb4172 attachThumb4173

Throughout the adventure you come across many colourful and interesting characters and you become genuinely interested in their story, what they can offer your group and how their futures will pan out. The interactivity comes from talking to your fellow survivors to find out about their backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses.  It is the excellent dialogue that keeps you going and by the middle of Episode 2 I was completely invested in finding out what would be the outcome of my group.

attachThumb4184 attachThumb4174 attachThumb4175

Decisions Decisions

The Walking Dead's main gameplay feature is that of choice.  Each episode has 5 critical events that drastically change the story depending on the player's choice.  These are often mature morale choices that have no right or wrong approach and carry over into later episodes.  There are also lots of dialogue choices when speaking with your group and I often tried to sit on the fence early on in the game, only to be surprised when the game called me out on it! I would have liked to have seen some real puzzles in the game, but the narrative is that good it carries the whole adventure on its own.

attachThumb4177 attachThumb4178 attachThumb4186

Console Quality?

The Vita version of The Walking Dead has added optional touch controls and has interface improvements for the handheld. One issue I had with the game is long pauses after some dialogue options. I think this is when the game is loading the different possible outcomes of your choices.  This was especially apparent in Episode 4 when some of the games QTEs and 'attacking' sections required precision input in order to not fail (die!) and the games framerate reduced to a stutter, with audio either not loading or being completely out of sync. When the stuttering stopped, the reticule of the cursor would not be where it should be and I would fail the scene. I've read that this issue was present in the console versions of the game too so I think this is a problem with the game engine and not the Vita hardware.  Perhaps if season 2 is to be nextgen these issues will be adressed. As it stands it really breaks the immersion and harms the overall experience.

attachThumb4179 attachThumb4182 attachThumb4183 attachThumb4180 attachThumb4181 attachThumb4185

Conclusion

If you are late to this series and are looking for something new to play on your Vita, I highly recommend The Walking Dead. It has an amazing narrative and fully sucks you into the experience. Personally I played it with my headphones on and no subtitles, mostly at night and it gave me a few jumps as well as a few WTF!? moments.  There are some slight performance issues but they are not exclusive to the Vita version, and I feel that the rest of the experience is so strong it far outweighs the few negatives.

Verdict
Pros
+ Excellent console port
+ Great story
+ 400 Days DLC included on cart
Cons
- Slowdown and long pauses on some important player-controlled sections
- No real puzzles
8 Presentation
The art style of The Walking Dead is like a realistic cartoon and is a great homeage to the comic of which the game is based on. A fully voice acted cast really brings the game to life.
8 Gameplay
The gameplay in The Walking Dead is all about finding out how to advance the narrative and then make a difficult decision. There is not much else to do, no exploration or puzzles to solve. This is an interactive movie with heavy emphasis on how your choices affect the outcome of the story.
7 Lasting Appeal
To finish all 5 episodes and the DLC can take 14-16 hours. There is a second play through in here though as you might want to see all of the different story branches.
8.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
The Walking Dead is an amazing adventure game with a first class award winning narrative. The pocket sized port is a perfect fit for the Vita library and at such a great price for the entire first season and DLC, it is an essential purchase for anyone yet to experience 2012's Game of the Year.
Share
2 comments

  • GameWinner
  • sblur