Disclaimer: The following game was reviewed on Xbox One. It was purchased by the reviewer for this critique.
Telltale Games is a studio that is known for its great story-telling and gut-wrenching decision making. One of the best things is seeing how my decisions stacked up against the rest of the community. When there isn’t much time to make a choice, sometimes the player isn’t thinking things out properly. These moments, as stressful as they may be, are perfect examples of how tense a Telltale Game can be. I still remember playing through The Walking Dead Season 1 and being shocked at the events unfolding in front of me. Saving one character would lead to another’s death. One group may hate me because of my decision, but the thing is that we don’t have the time ponder the long term ramifications of our decisions.
The studio’s most recent games (Game of Thrones and Minecraft: Story Mode) were mediocre at best and failed to capture the charm, intensity, and phenomenal story-telling found in The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Tales From The Borderlands. I was slightly concerned when I found out about The Walking Dead: Michonne since the game is the developers’s first miniseries. I would often wonder how they could connect us to the character on an emotional level in only three episodes, but after playing through episode 1 called “In Too Deep”, I have full confidence that Telltale can accomplish that task.
My favorite aspect about the episode is how it’s essentially about the human element. It invites us to learn about what trying to survive tragedy can do to a person. The two seasons of The Walking Dead were about survival, but they never really dove into the past. Sure, characters talked about life before the zombie apocalypse, but we never saw how these events actually affected their minds. At the start of the episode, Michonne is at her breaking point. Every slash of her sword and every walker killed ignites the PTSD fueled memories of her daughters who died after the apocalypse started. This is something that she can’t seem to get over and probably never will. It’s cool to take a look at how Michonne perceives the world, and the trippy opening sequence clearly shows that Telltale is up for the task .
One thing that “In Too Deep” does so well is the fact that it keeps the characters we interact with to a minimum. While we meet a handful of characters throughout the episode’s run-time, most of Michonne’s interactions are on a more personal level. “In Too Deep” features many intense dialogue sections towards the end of the episode that had me stressing out over how the rest of the miniseries will play out.
If you’ve played a Telltalle game in the past, then The Walking Dead: Michonne should feel very familiar. Players control the titular character as she explores environments, talks to characters and takes down walkers. While the action still revolves around “Quick Time Events”, it’s a lot more fluid and satisfying. Watching Michonne dispose of walkers in the game is definitely a highlight of “In Too Deep” and I hope that future episodes can up the ante.
Unfortunately, the usual problems with the games made by Telltale are still present in this title. There are various skips, I witnessed the game freeze for about 10 seconds, and the visuals look dated. While I like that the game has comic book styled graphics, there is no denying that the studio’s engine needs an upgrade. It’s also worth noting that the episode clocks in at less than 90 minutes. While that didn’t diminish the experience at all, people looking for a lengthy episode will take issue with “In Too Deep.”
When the studio introduced players to Lee and Clementine in The Walking Dead Season One, they were immediately loved, but there is just something so awesome about getting to play as a well known character. I was skeptical upon first booting up the game. As a fan of The Walking Dead (the game, comics, and shows) I was excited to take control of Michonne, but as a Telltale fan, I was nervous that the studio would let me down once again. Fortunately, The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 1 – In Too Deep is a gripping, thrilling, and interesting take on the character that has me anxious to play episode 2. Telltale has treated the character with so much respect that my hope is that they will give various characters from the comics time to shine in the spotlight through other miniseries. Fans of Telltale, The Walking Dead, and intriguing narratives should definitely pick up the debut episode.