Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Apple & Android Mobile
Disclaimer: The following review may contain some light spoilers. Please continue reading at your own risk.
The Walking Dead: Michonne –A Telltale Miniseries delves into the haunting back-story of one of everyone’s favorite characters from the popular series, Michonne. Journeying into the episodic delivers a more in-depth analysis of her mysterious absence between issues #126 and #139 of the comic book.
While glimpses of her tragic back-story are hinted at in The Walking Dead television series, never before has anyone witnessed what truly made Michonne into such a brutal badass! The fact of the matter with this specific installment of the Telltale Games franchise, which I’ll now simply refer to as “Michonne”, is that as far as Episode 1 goes, there’s just not too much to discuss here.
Over the course of the “In Too Deep” there were a significant number of letdowns that started to surface. I wouldn’t have decided to list them if they hadn’t become a centerpiece in the experience. I think for the rest of this review I’ll number off these “Bummer” moments in no particular order.
Bummer #1: Nada Katana.
Right off the bat at Bummer No. 1 is the sad but inevitable fact that Michonne isn’t even wielding her signature katana in this episode of The Walking Dead Telltale. While players do get to swing its legendary blade in a quick flashback sequence, for the rest of the playthrough, she might as well be renamed Machete. Think Danny Trejo, but a woman.
Luckily I was able to forgive this first flaw because, as you can tell from the screenshot above, the graphics for this game were artistic and outstanding. Having always been a fan of all the Telltale series of games, I’ve gotten accustomed to the more comic-styled look of these visuals. They make for a great segue from the graphics in the books to the animations in the games. I think Michonne stood out among the rest with its updated cinematography. Telltale would decide to portray a scene more subtly, focusing the camera in on the reflection of a blade rather than displaying something outright. Even simple introductory shots went above and beyond, utilizing beautiful imagery such as overlaying animations within a rising plume of smoke in the background. Combo that with some amazing hack and slash gore and I’m sold on these graphics to support this game as a stand-alone entity in that aspect.
The audio accompaniment to go along with those graphics in Michonne did not disappoint. The powerful instrumentals set a tragic tone that reflected profoundly on the inner-grief, guilt and regret our stoic protagonist does her best to hide.
Bummer #2: Oh Plot, Where Art Thou?
Where Bummer No. 2 comes into play is within the plot department. Besides the overall length of the game, which we’ll get to discussing in a bit, this is where Michonne really dropped the ball. The official Bummer No. 2 is the overall lack of an in-depth plot. For a game that seems so well-developed and refined in numerous outside aspects, I’m perplexed at how the plot was so simply short. Doing some research, I found most playthroughs took no more than half an hour on average. This made my hour and a half stream of Michonne seem like a marathon. I understand the first episode in a series is always meant to be an intro, but we’re talking about 1/3rd of an entire series at this point. I want more content!
Without going into any real in-game spoilers, I can safely warn this. As a Walking Dead game and also as a Telltale game, it’s obvious that deaths are going to be prevalent throughout. What I expect in these types of scenarios is an influence on those deaths through my decisions and dialogues.
Bummer #3: Can’t Develop the Dead!
Bummer No. 3 came as a bit of a surprise given Telltale Games’ track record. There is simply a lack of character development present upon inception. Case in point, it’s pretty hard to develop characters if they’re dead. While death, as previously stated, is an inevitable understanding, what’s unacceptable is my personal influence over who lives or how they die. From what I could gather on the interwebs and personal experience, it doesn’t all-too-much matter what you pick in the course of this episode, as the same outcomes will trump your choices and occur anyway. I could be wrong or misunderstanding but from my perspective that’s how it seemed.
That being said, I did greatly enjoy the chance to learn about the character who did manage to stick around. Which leads me into some more positives in the overall entertainment aspects of Michonne. Though unnecessary cliffhangers do leave me grumpy, I can forgive this game for that. It’s fast-paced action and dynamic, interactive environments were intense. The difficulty of making quick, life-altering decisions made for a sweat-inducing playthrough that I thoroughly admired.
While some Telltales I’ve tried in the past have left me feeling unmotivated and plainly unethical, this game refreshingly contrasted.
Michonne finds clever ways to entice its audience in an emotionally enrapturing experience that will leave people screaming. Whether those screams are in delight, heated frustration or sadness is really unique to the individual. The point is: this game induces passion in such a way that most similar games can’t even hope to compete. Even if a game creates such rage that audiences feel forced to attempt a second playthrough for possibly different end-game results, it is a success. Any game that’s capable of stirring up such powerful emotions has to be considered as such! Think about it, if audiences truly did not enjoy Michonne, they’d simply put down their controllers and walk away. That’s just not the case here.
The Bottom Line
For the final “Season Pass” price of $15, audiences do get all three episodes of this self-proclaimed Miniseries. What immediately became painfully obvious was just how mini the series, in fact, was. Weighing in at a total playthrough time of just over an hour and a half, The Walking Dead: Michonne cannot be claimed as a real bang for its buck just yet. I went out of my way to really weigh each chat option to its max time limit. I also looked in-depth into each exploration option when they were available.
Even after all that, my personal influence on the story’s final outcome seemed minimal at best. Getting to know the individual characters and watch their development over time was also difficult in such a short time span. That frustration was only exacerbated when more than a couple of these brand new characters started dropping like flies. Despite these flaws, I have to admit this game was both suspenseful and exciting to play throughout. Don’t believe me? Just watch the past broadcast of my live stream here and decide for yourself.
Taking into consideration that it was only the first episode in the series and there’s much more still to come, I’ll leave my hopes held high for Michonne‘s future. I just hope there’s more in store than the shortfalls, and the series does indeed come out on top for a highly acclaimed game I can fully endorse.