The Walking Dead (also known as The Walking Dead: The Game and The Walking Dead: Season One) is an episodic graphic adventure video game developed and published by Telltale Games.
Based on The Walking Dead comic book series, the game consists of five episodes, released between April and November 2012. The game is the first of The Walking Dead video game series published by Telltale.
The Walking Dead has been critically acclaimed, with reviewers praising the harsh emotional tone of the story and the empathetic connection established between Lee and Clementine. It won year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications. More than one million unique players have purchased at least one episode from the series, with over 8.5 million individual units sold by the end of 2012, and its success has been seen as constituting a revitalization of the weakened adventure game genre. In July 2013, Telltale released an additional downloadable episode, 400 Days, to extend the first season and bridge the gap towards Telltale's second season, released later that year. Season 3 and Season 4 of The Walking Dead were released in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
The Walking Dead occurs simultaneously with the events from the original comic series, where a zombie apocalypse overwhelms much of society. Characters in the game come to call the zombies "walkers", due to the slowness of their movement. Although the survivors initially think that being bitten by a zombie is the only way to become infected, it is later discovered that one becomes a zombie upon death irrespective of the manner in which one dies; only by damaging the brain can the reanimation be stopped. As with the comic and television series, the game's events occur in the state of Georgia.
Numerous characters appear throughout the game:
- Lee Everett (voiced by Dave Fennoy), the primary protagonist of the series, is a native of Macon and a former university professor convicted for killing a state senator who was sleeping with his wife
- Clementine (voiced by Melissa Hutchison), an eight-year-old whose parents had left for Savannah, leaving her with a babysitter
- Kenny (voiced by Gavin Hammon), a fisherman who prioritizes his family above all else
- Katjaa (voiced by Cissy Jones), Kenny's wife, who works as a veterinarian
- Kenny Jr. (voiced by Max Kaufman), more commonly known as "Duck", Kenny and Katjaa's son
- Lilly (voiced by Nicki Rapp), formerly stationed on the Robins Air Force Base
- Larry (voiced by Terry McGovern), Lilly's aggressive and judgmental father, a retired U.S. Army commander who knows Lee's past
- Carley (voiced by Nicole Vigil) a quick-thinking regional news reporter who is also aware of Lee's crimes
- Doug (voiced by Sam Joan), a resourceful and logical information systems technician
- Glenn Rhee (voiced by Nick Herman), a former pizza delivery boy
- Mark (voiced by Mark Middleton), a survivor who used to work for the U.S. Air Force
- Ben Paul (voiced by Trevor Hoffman), a high school student rescued by Lee, Mark and Kenny
- Andy (voiced by Adam Harrington), his brother Danny (voiced by Brian Sommer), and their mother Brenda (voiced by Jeanie Kelsey)
- Chuck (voiced by Roger Jackson), a level-headed homeless man who lives in a boxcar
- Omid and Christa (voiced by Owen Thomas and Mara Junot respectively), a young couple who tend to stay away from large groups
- Molly (voiced by Erin Ashe), an acrobatic and resourceful young woman who carries an ice axe
- Vernon (voiced by Butch Engle), a doctor and leader of a group of cancer survivors hiding in the morgue of a hospital
- The Stranger (voiced by Anthony Lam, and by Roger Jackson through the walkie-talkie) is a mysterious man that communicates to Clementine via her walkie-talkie as the group nears Savannah
The Walking Dead is a graphic adventure, played from a third-person perspective with a variety of cinematic camera angles, in which the player, as protagonist Lee Everett, works with a rag-tag group of survivors to stay alive in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The player can examine and interact with characters and items, and must make use of inventory items and the environment. Throughout the game, the player is presented with the ability to interact with their surroundings, and options to determine the nature of that interaction. For example, the player may be able to look at a character, talk to that character, or if they are carrying an item, offer it to the character or ask them about it. According to Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead game is focused more on developing characters and story, and less on the action tropes that tend to feature in other zombie-based games, such as Left 4 Dead.
Some parts of the game require timed responses from the player, often leading to significant decisions that will impact the game's story, in the manner of role-playing games (RPGs). Some conversation trees require the player to make a selection within a limited time, otherwise Lee will remain quiet, which can affect how other characters respond to him. Unlike in other RPGs such as the Mass Effect or Fallout series, where choices fall on either side of a "good or evil" scale, the choices within The Walking Dead have ambiguous results, having an effect on the attitude of the non-player characters towards Lee. The player can opt to enable a "choice notification" feature, in which the game's interface indicates that a character has changed their disposition towards Lee as a result of these choices. In more action-based sequences, the player must follow on-screen prompts for quick time events (QTEs) so as to keep themselves or other characters alive. If the player dies, the game restarts from just prior to the QTE. Other timed situations involve major decisions, such as choosing which of two characters to keep alive.
Each episode contains five points where the player must make a significant decision, choosing from one of two available options. Through Telltale's servers, the game tracks how many players selected which option and lets the player compare their choices to the rest of the player base. The game can be completed regardless of what choices are made in these situations; the main events of the story, as described below, will continue regardless of what choices are made, but the presence and behavior of the non-player characters in later scenes will be affected by these choices. The game does allow the player to make multiple saves, and includes a "rewind" feature where the player can back up and alter a previous decision, thus facilitating the exploration of alternative choices.
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Release Date: Tuesday, 24 April 2012
- Genre: Graphic adventure, Interactive movie
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, Ouya, Nintendo Switch, Kindle Fire HDX
- Director: Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin, Dennis Lenart, Eric Parsons, Nick Herman, Sean Ainsworth
- Mode: Single-player