By Marty Mulrooney
The Walking Dead: Michonne – A Telltale Miniseries is a new three-part adventure game from Telltale Games, based on Robert Kirkman’s best-selling comic books. Set within the comic book universe, kept separate from the popular television series of the same name, it follows on from the huge success of The Walking Dead: Season One, The Walking Dead: 400 Days and The Walking Dead: Season Two. In The Walking Dead: Michonne – Episode 1: In Too Deep, players take control of fan-favourite blade-wielding badass Michonne as she fights for her life, and her sanity, in an adventure where every split-second decision counts.
In Too Deep wastes no time at all throwing players into the blood-spattered shoes of Michonne. The game has barely started before she’s fighting off multiple groaning zombies with her lethal katana, reality warping around her as she chases after the ghosts of her dead children. It’s a mostly effective opening, heavy on quick time events. Effective because it immediately gives all the backstory we really need for Michonne (this new series is accessible to both long time fans and newcomers alike), but only mostly effective because the quick time events are quite tricky and sometimes, unfair. It damages the flow of the opening when you die for the second or third time in a row and a lot of the problem is down to moments where the player must mash the ‘A’ button before quickly pressing ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘B’ – it’s far too easy to press ‘A’ again by mistake.
However, such muddied first impressions don’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things. Once Michonne is down on her knees in the dirt in utter despair, gun in her hand, with that first impossible decision presented on-screen, you’ll be 100% emotionally involved. It’s an impressive storytelling feat considering she doesn’t speak a word during the opening moments, but sometimes actions speak louder than words. Even if those actions are prompted by slightly wonky quick time events. The beautifully animated opening title sequence (the catchy, perfectly selected music is called Gun In My Hand by Dorothy in case you were wondering), takes the sting out of any initial missteps. It’s the comic book brought to life… and it’s absolutely awesome. The Walking Dead by Telltale Games has finally returned. It feels good to be back.
Jumping ahead in time, Michonne is now living with a small group of survivors on a sailing ship called The Companion, cruising the coast looking for supplies. Her main companion is Pete, a friendly, likeable enough fellow who seems just a bit too soft for the rotten world they’re living in. When they receive a nearby distress signal, the pair go off to investigate… and as usual, everything goes to hell. There are more undead enemies to face – and QTEs to face along with them – but the story becomes far more interesting when other human characters are thrown into the mix.
It’s not clear at this point who is friend and who is foe and as usual, everyone Michonne speaks to will remember the answers you give to their questions. The twist on the tried and tested formula is that often in Episode 1: In Too Deep, the truth sounds… flaky. Sometimes, it might be better to lie just enough to err on the side of caution. Little white lies, remaining noncommittal to the truth. It’s a fresh approach that could potentially pay off big time, but none of the main decisions seem to really pay off in any meaningful way. It doesn’t help that the svelte playtime (1.5 hours, 2 hours at a push) makes getting to know any of the brilliantly voiced supporting characters difficult. The only person who makes a lasting impression is Michonne herself, voiced by award-winning actress Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black). The character of Michonne is a fan favourite for a reason and Wiley undoubtedly does her multifaceted personality and moral complexities justice.
The Walking Dead: Michonne – Episode 1: In Too Deep is a great time then despite its short length and lack of any real meat on the bone (yet), but whether it will be remembered fondly – if at all – depends a hell of a lot on what will follow in the next two episodes. For now, this is a strong opening that will pull players in deep and hopefully keep them there until the next episode arrives.
8 OUT OF 10