Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: March 12, 2018
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection is a third-person episodic story driven point and click action adventure game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Telltale Games have gradually become more popular with every game having developed the cult classic Sam and Max seasons to episodic games based upon such well known licensed properties as Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, Minecraft: Story Mode, Game of Thrones, Batman and more besides with Telltale’s star rising upon every release. When The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season originally released in April 2012 on PS3; no one could have predicted the impact it would have had as it went on to win over 90 Game of the Year awards and receive worldwide critical acclaim from the gaming media. Can The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection improve upon the quality of previous versions for each season of The Walking Dead?
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection brings together a compilation of The Complete First Season, 400 Days, The Complete Second Season, A New Frontier and Michonne spanning a total of 19 episodes building up to the fourth and final season.
The story follows Clementine’s struggles to survive during a zombie apocalypse from the age of 8 in the first season until her younger teenage years in the third season, while 400 Days focuses the story on a multitude of intertwining characters. Meanwhile, Michonne’s story arc explains the reasons of why Michonne is absent between issues 126 and 139 of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series as well as exactly what took her away from her group of close friends including Rick.
The My Choices feature provides an entire listing of your choices including the statistical analysis regarding the percentage of players who have made the same choice as you for each moral decision as well as a variety of decisions that are scattered throughout the chapters of each episode and season such as how you reacted to losing a friend, who you trust and much more besides with the feature being directly available from the extras menu after having completed an episode.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead seasons have always relied upon characters playing off each other in their respective alliances such as Lee and Clementine, Clementine and Javier and Michonne and Pete, disagreements and total opposition between family, enemies and groups, while every episode is exceptionally well written and thought out in that regard due to superb character design in harmony with amazing dialogue for every character.
Environment design has always had a positive amount of variety throughout every episode including family homes, makeshift shelters, travelling on the road to seek shelter from the incoming hordes of walkers, group residences, outdoor areas and more besides within a realistic interpretation of how a post-apocalyptic world would function and look.
Telltale promised that more of their games would be headed to Vita at some point; until a Vita version of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier and Michonne is potentially released, remote play of the PS4 version on Vita is a consolation, although a Vita native version of the first season including 400 Days and the second season is available via retail and digitally. The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection’s remote play performance is on par with the graphics, audio and general performance of the PS4 version, while the remote play control scheme has been appropriately optimised resulting in fighting actions and shooting being re-mapped from R2 to R when prompted and showing selectables has moved from L2 to L, alongside the rest of the controls remaining identical to the PS4 version; therefore producing a remote play experience that will keep players satisfied until a Vita version is hopefully released.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller by updating the controls for every season to that of A New Frontier with the control scheme consisting of pressing X, triangle, square or O to perform actions, start a conversation with a person in your group or to choose a response in a conversation with the buttons being clearly marked towards the bottom of the screen; pressing R2 to run or perform fight actions when defending yourself; pressing up or down on the d-pad to look at your inventory; mashing certain face buttons such as X, triangle, square or O when in one-on-one encounters with walkers; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move around cover in a tight situation or walking around as you explore the environment during your search to find people and supplies; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the cursor around the environment for you to investigate and observe certain objects and items of importance as well as deciding who to start or continue a conversation with or even positioning your aim when you are about to defend yourself from a walker; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection continues to lack any touch pad, light bar and vibration functionality which is surprising as it would have provided some further improvements over the original release of each season. The Vita’s touch screen control scheme in The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season was pretty much perfected as it saw the cursor being replaced with icons and consisted of tapping on an icon to perform a particular action, interact with an object, start a conversation with a person in your group or to choose a response in a conversation, while there are certain one-on-one encounters with walkers that require direction focused control inputs such as moving the left analogue stick to the left or right, so it is realistic that such functionality could have made the transition from the Vita’s touch screen to the DualShock 4’s touch pad. The light bar could have produced an increasingly darker tone of red as a threatening situation looms to work in harmony with the visual effect of the HUD during such occurrences, while the DualShock 4 controller could have vibrated during any bumps, scrapes, heavy landings or when being attacked by walkers or bandits.
Graphically, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection is noticeably enhanced in comparison to the original version of the first season, 400 Days, second season and Michonne as there are much improved texture details and a wider colour palette throughout every character, walker and environment. However, there are some missed opportunities as A New Frontier has not been visually enhanced, despite a rough texture here and there, while none of the seasons have received any form of PS4 Pro support such as 4K or HDR; despite The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection being a perfect opportunity to do so.
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, my choices menus, settings menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and the lack of a touch based user interface via the touch pad is proven as a realistic prospect given the fact of how effective and responsive the touch screen user interface is in The Walking Dead on Vita. Menu backgrounds focus upon apocalyptic scenes in abandoned overgrown streets as the camera pans around as birds fly overhead.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead seasons has always had an amazing cast of characters brought to life by an extremely talented superb voice-over cast that provokes emotional attachments to their respective characters including Melissa Hutchison voicing recurring character Clementine having voiced numerous characters in Telltale Games’ videogames such as Stinky in the Sax and Max seasons, Trixie Trotter in Back to the Future, Toad Junior and Beauty in The Wolf Among Us and Isa in Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 1. Dave Fennoy who perfectly voices the lead protagonist Lee Everett in the first season has since voiced Bluebeard in The Wolf Among Us, Finch in Tales from the Borderlands, Gabriel the Warrior in Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 1 and Lucius Fox in Batman: The Telltale Series and Batman: The Enemy Within, while Gavin Hammon voices recurring character Kenny is another standout performer having voiced Stan in Tales of Monkey Island, Franklin Bedford in Law and Order: Legacies and Beast, Dee, Dum and Magic Mirror in The Wolf Among Us. Cissy Jones voices Katjaa, Jolene and Brie in the first season, Shel and Dee in 400 Days, Shel, Guard and Howe’s Intercom in the second season and Norma and Vanessa in Michonne as well as voicing Kelsey Brannagan in The Wolf Among Us.
Michael Madsen voices William Carver in the second season known for major films such as Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and 2 as well as such videogames as Toni Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III, Daud in Dishonored 1, 2 and Death of the Outsider and Futoshi Shimano in Yakuza. Jeff Schine voices playable character Javier Garcia in A New Frontier having also voiced Danny Burke in Mafia III and Frank Aiello in Call of Duty: WWII, while Shelly Shenoy voices Kate having voiced SkyBlock Female A and Rebel Female B in Minecraft: Story Mode and various background voice-overs for other Telltale Games such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead: Michonne, Batman: The Telltetale Series and Minecraft: Story Mode – Seasons 1 and 2, alongside Alex Hernandez voices David Garcia having also voiced Lincoln Clay in Mafia III and Eli Knable in Batman: The Enemy Within; Raymond Ochoa voices Gabe having previously voiced Male Brotherhood of Steel Squire in Fallout 4 and Dash Parr in the Disney Infinity trilogy. Danai Gurira who brought Michonne to life on the TV series did not reprise her role in the game, therefore Michonne is voiced by Samira Wiley who has starred in Orange is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale delivers a stunning performance that can range from light-hearted dialogue with Pete to action and even emotional scenes when Michonne hallucinates about those who she has lost which provides a guaranteed emotional response from the player, while Malik Yoba voices Pete who made his debut as Yul Brenner in Cool Runnings followed by Detective Carson in Cop Land and TV series such as New York Undercover, Alphas and Empire.
Sound effects include walking, vehicular engines, interaction with objects and ambience such as weather conditions as well as the groans of nearby walkers, flies buzzing, birds tweeting and more besides. Atmospheric and moody music composed by Jared Emerson-Johnson provides further tension to scenes in which Lee, Clementine, Javier or Michonne are in a one-on-one encounter with a walker or bandit and elevates emotion within scenes that are not focused on action. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which could have produced a further layer of atmosphere from sound effects such as nearby walkers, ambient sounds, conversations or music.
The trophy list includes 52 trophies with 48 bronze trophies, 3 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The trophy list initially focuses on one bronze trophy for completing each episode in the first season for a total of 5 bronze trophies before offering one bronze trophy per chapter completed in 400 Days for a total of 8 bronze trophies, while each episode in the second season provides one bronze trophy for a total of 5 bronze trophies. However, the third season has the most emphasis within the trophy list as it provides a bronze trophy for every chapter completed totalling to 30 bronze trophies, while Michonne has the distinction of being the only season that produces anything other than bronze trophies as there are a total of 3 gold trophies for completing every episode within the three part mini-series. The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection is entirely based upon completing each chapter within all 19 episodes between the first season, 400 Days, the second season, A New Frontier and Michonne; resulting in a somewhat easy trophy list in regards to the fact that you will platinum the trophy list if you are able to complete the story with only a single playthrough required. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 30 to 40 hours to platinum the trophy list.
The difficulty curve certainly varies throughout each episode as there are some tough one-on-one encounters with walkers to survive, while there are easier areas that require you to scavenge for supplies such as food and water to stay energised and maintain focus, alongside having conversations with the person you are travelling with or your group to plan your collective journey in order to attempt to preserve the group’s survival. The only settings that are customisable in relation to difficulty levels are for the in-game user interface as you can have a standard setting that allows you to have access to more feedback when you make important moral choices and help in regards to highlighting any areas of interest, while the minimal setting will completely turn off any hints, help and choice notifications. The user interface for every season has been seemingly updated to that found in A New Frontier as the cursor is presented with a colourful and distinctive design as there are icons and colours within the cursor that really differentiate actions from one another rather than mostly being presented in the same way which makes for a better experience, while providing an appropriate amount of control inputs to represent your actions. As was previously the case upon the original releases of each season; you will find yourself being required to participate in some button mashing during one-on-one encounters with walkers, although you will need to press the prompted buttons quickly within a rather limited period of time in order to ensure that you survive the encounter which is an appropriate design choice as it certainly adds more atmosphere and tension to the mix as you are not guaranteed to breeze straight through a one-on-one encounter with a walker.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier supported Crowd Play upon its original release that allowed the player to host a Crowd Play gameplay session which essentially offered a local multiplayer experience that could technically support up to thousands of people within a large theatre or 4 to 12 people gathered in any given normal sized room for a party game atmosphere. However, the first season, 400 Days, second season and Michonne that released prior to the debut of Telltale’s Crowd Play functionality have not had Crowd Play integrated which results in a missed golden opportunity to retrospectively introduce Crowd Play into the earlier seasons within the collection. The fact that Crowd Play has been stripped out of A New Frontier’s inclusion in the collection is a poor oversight as it would mean that anyone who was yet to own A New Frontier, but was looking forward to hosting a Crowd Play session of A New Frontier would have to purchase the third season separately.
Despite there being no online leaderboards; there is a statistical analysis of the decisions that you have made during each episode in comparison to the decisions that everyone else who has played The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection has made which is a positive design choice in the sense that it provides you with an in depth look at if you have made the correct decision or if you were incorrect in the eyes of a certain percentage of people who have played the game. Every decision within each episode is clearly defined in the statistical analysis and it is incredibly interesting to see at the end of the final chapter of every episode what percentage of players made the same decisions as you and to also see the percentage of players that disagreed with your choices.
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection’s replayability stems from the multiple storylines you can shape by playing the first season, 400 Days, second season, A New Frontier and Michonne spanning a total of 19 episodes over the course of multiple playthroughs, while experimenting with different combinations of moral choices to see which direction your decisions will ultimately guide the story regarding which characters will survive that did not previously do so and which characters who survived beforehand that will not survive during a separate playthrough given an alternative moral choice. However, the removal of Crowd Play for A New Frontier and not introducing Crowd Play into the earlier seasons reduce the maximum potential of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection’s replay value.
- Title: The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- System: PS4
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: Yes (Save Import for Story Decisions for Seasons 1, 2 and A New Frontier)
- Players: 1 (Online Moral Choice Comparisons)
- Hard Drive Space Required: 62.65GB (Version 1.03)