So I'm a big fan of the guys on Giant Bomb (a gaming website/podcast). They've been talking up The Walking Dead for ages, but I waited until all the episodes were out before I played it.
I'm not usually a big fan of zombie stories. They're incredibly predictable - random deaths happen all the time. When 'anyone can die', then it's no longer surprising or emotional when someone does die. However, from what the guys on Giant Bomb said, it sounded like TWD would be a triumph of storytelling. I'm a big Telltale fan, though I hadn't played any of their stuff since Back to the Future.
The first two episodes were actually really satisfying. However, when the story shifted into "kill everyone" mode, I began to grow disillusioned with the game. The 'cast reset' that occurred over the course of episode 3 really bugged me. What does it matter that Carly 'will remember that' if she dies five minutes later?
I really liked the characters introduced in the first episode, but they're all gone by the end of the third save for Lee, Kenny, and Clem. The characters they're replaced with - Ben, Omid, and Christa - are extremely boring in comparison. The interplay between the original cast was interesting to watch. Ben doesn't seem to have any interplay with anyone - he's just a coward - and Omid and Christa are a bland couple. Chuck the hobo was actually kind of interesting, so of course he's dead halfway through the fourth episode.
The straw that broke the camel's back for me was Lee getting bitten. Once I found out that my reward for completing the series was death, I stopped playing. A main character being bitten and asking to be shot to prevent their zombification is probably the most cliche ending possible for a zombie story.
When I started playing TWD, I 'gave' the game an ultimatum - Lee and Clementine have to survive. From what I've read, the series ends with Lee dying and Clementine's survival being left as a cliffhanger.
Nope, not doing it. And I'm definitely not getting strung along for a second season where you play as another protagonist who will also probably die at the end, but only after shooting a few more kids in the head.
I was hoping Telltale would break out of a lot of the cliches of the zombie genre but they've settled for retelling the same predictable story done a hundred times before - hero is bitten, hero spends final hours being an even bigger hero, then bravely asks for a bullet to the brain.
Telltale had a good thing going but they lost me when they decided to go grimdark. The only zombie film I can even stomach is 28 Days Later because it has the balls to have a hopeful ending in a genre dominated by pessimism. Even then, the original ending (before it was changed because audiences didn't like it, imagine that) ended with the hero dying too. What is up with that? The first time the hero dies in a zombie story, it's poignant. The 100th time, it's just stupid and depressing for absolutely no good reason.
I wish Telltale had decided to challenge the foregone conclusion that a zombie story has to end in a depressing way. It's disappointing that The Walking Dead has ended up following the same path every other zombie tale takes - it starts with a large cast, you grow to like a lot of them, and then they all die except for the most boring ones.
Perhaps the key to surviving a zombie invasion is having no personality.