The Walking Dead EP4: I LOVE Candy Bars!

 By Shamus Dec 1, 2012 212 comments


Link (YouTube)

Late in this episode we compare The Walking Dead to Dead Island. Here’s my review of the latter, if you’re curious. Here is the original Dead Island trailer, which caused such a fuss and led to unrealistic expectations for the game.

That game is pretty much my poster child for soulless AAA game development. Uncanny valley photorealism. Big-budget production values. Tacked-on leveling mechanics that actually detract from the core experience. Horrible kinesthetics. Loads of bugs. Lame-ass quests. Dissonant storytelling that can’t seem to present a coherent tone, theme, or plot. Jarring cutscenes that don’t mesh with the world. Completely unbalanced mechanics where one class is objectively better than another and all classes are rendered pointless by the kick action. Cringe-inducing pop-culture references. Shockingly awful character designs. Huge marketing push that was almost completely at odds with the game itself. A late entry into an oversaturated genre.

Millions of dollars were spent to produce and sell a game that just wasn’t worth playing. It would be like spending half a million bucks to make a solid gold Prius, and then not bothering to make sure the engine works. It’s heartbreaking to see so much money and hard work poured into producing such an unworthy product.

It’s amazing when you compare that game to The Walking Dead. Now, TWD isn’t perfect. We’ll get more into the flaws later. But it’s new* and smart and even when the game failed, it failed taking risks and not blindly copying what was already popular.

* The fact that Heavy Rain did this sort of thing a few years ago doesn’t stop this game from being new. Remember we’re comparing it to other videogame genres that go back years, built on gameplay conventions that go back decades.

Since we’re enumerating the zombie games is the current “zombie craze”, which I guess is the last ~8 years or so:

  • Left 4 Dead
  • Dead Island
  • Dead Rising
  • The Walking Dead
  • Resident Evil
  • Killing Floor
  • Zombie Driver
  • Atom Zombie Smasher
  • Does Plants vs. Zombies count?

Obviously this list leaves out the many, many games with zombie sections, mods, or add-ons. If we wanted to list all of those we could be here all day. (Doom 3, Day Z, Saints Row The Third, etc etc etc.)

For the last couple of years, people have been saying that the zombie genre is “played out”, and as recently as 5 paragraphs ago I was calling it “oversaturated”. Not [just] the gameplay, but zombies as antagonists. But is it really more played out than (say) space marines, modern military, or GTA style gritty crime adventure? Actually, screw zombies and Space Marines. You could add those together, throw in Ninjas and pirates, and still wind up with less games than medieval fantasy. Why do wizards and kings get such a free pass?

Oh see, our setting is different because our elves are jerks and our Orcs are called something else.

I seem to have gotten lost while making a point. What were we talking about? Oh right, The Walking Dead. Yeah. So… I like Clementine. So there.


A Hundred!A Hundred!12212 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. I think Alan Wake could be a good choice based premise thanks to the whole “art works are reality premise.” You could easily have it so that once Wake figures it out, then he can get some paper and pen and make choices by writing it what’s going to happen next. Persona 2 had a similar “rumors as reality” mechanic where you could spread rumors like “Shop X sells pricy, but quality weapons” and affect the world that way. You got rumor ideas by talking to people. A similar idea for Alan Wake could have worked.

    I sided with Carlee because I had talked with her a bit more and she felt more integrated with the group than Doug did, although part of it was definitely snap decision making and going with instinct. Also, after she figured out who Lee was and promised not to tell, I felt like I owed her for giving me the benefit of the doubt. And her performance at the motor inn told me all I needed to know about her skills.

    I always thought of zombies as more of a plot device than a real threat. All they can really do is help to drive a plot forward. By themselves, the can’t really do much beyond being an obstacle like any other. This is why the better zombie works take the attention off the zombies and put it on the survivors trying to carve a niche in this new world. That’s where all of the really interesting stuff happens and The Walking Dead proves it.

    One of the best things about Clementine as a character is how you are forced to choose between being direct and honest with her or dancing around issues like her parents death. Another great thing about his is that (Episode 2)she’s much smarter than you’d think. When you try talking around her parent’s death in Episode 2, she says “I’m not stupid Lee, I know…” and you really begin to feel for her. (It’s worth noting that I tried to placate her in the begin, but as time went on I became more and more honest with her and felt like she deserved to know the truth about what was going on. Not important, but interesting.)

    • Jakey says:

      Oh shit, does she really say that? I could never bring myself to do it throughout the game, because I felt like her innocence really ought to be preserved to some degree at least.

      • Indeed. I was super surprised to hear her say that. She goes on to say that she knows they are likely dead, but has pretend talks on the walkie-talkie with them anyway just to make herself feel better. She knows what she thinks is likely the truth, but doesn’t want to accept it just yet.

        I thought it really showed strength both in her character and her writer.

      • Steve C says:

        Hmm. I never even considered lying to her about her parents including by omission. I was always direct and honest with her while trying to soften the edges as much as possible. I was grateful for that exchange in ep2 because it annoys me when adults treat kids as being stupid. They aren’t and it really gets under my skin when fiction makes them stupid for no other reason than they are kids.

        Duck is a good example of a kid who’s dumb because he’s dumb. Not because he’s a kid.

    • Jaerys says:

      I think it would be interesting if Alan Wake was choice driven. I would probably add a level of indirection though. The hook for Alan Wake isn’t “Alan Wake runs around with a flashlight and shoots the taken”; it’s about Alan Wake trying to out wit and out write his evil, Lovecraftian editor. I’d make that the core game mechanic.

      Let the player control Alan Wake, but only present choices as prose the player selects to be read by the narrator. Either axe the manuscript page collection sidequest, or present a choice whenever a player finds a page. Then, some time later, have the Dark Presence add its own narration that tries to twist your choices. I think that would make the reveal that Alan Wake is trapped in his own story more meaningful.

      Edit: Alternatively, the player’s focus can shift between narrator and protagonist as Alan Wake moves from lit to dark areas. While Alan is in the safety of day the player controls the narration and tries to set things up so he stands a chance against the Dark Presence narrated night/dark sequences.

      • Klay F. says:

        This would also be a perfect excuse for the writers to ignore (or even lampshade) the easy solution that we were all clamoring for during the SW season.

        Hypothetical Alan Wake Writer: “Okay so Alan Wake is trapped by Taken or whatever, what is the player going to want to do to get out of this?”

        A Typical Player Character: “Duh. I’m gonna spawn myself a minigun and a million bullets.”

        HAWW: “Very well. Here you are good sir. Just one thing… The Dark Presence just read what you wrote, and decided to spawn FIVE million Taken.

        ATPC: “….”

      • I think this would also be a good idea. It was criminal to introduce this concept of what you write becomes real, have your protagonist be a writer, and then not let the player do anything with that concept to influence the game.

  2. anaphysik says:

    Shamus, that Dead Island review linky http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/ORToMwG2wIg is 404ing.

  3. anaphysik says:

    I think the evident problem in deciding between Carley and Doug is thus: you see WAY more of Carley. Doug really only gets one scene (half when you sit outside the first time and half when you sit outside the next), whereas Carley gets a sidequest, extra dialogue scenes, and an entire mission to go on. Metagaming, sure, but Doug feels like a throwaway character :/
    (Also note that already in this episode have we had a throwaway character that you can’t save (Shawn). In fact, Shawn might get more screentime than Doug.)

    • Isy says:

      Not to mention she saves your life twice, possibly a third time when she keeps mum on your past. I liked Doug (the “you’re a strange man” “yeah, I know” exchange really endeared me to him), but narratively he got shafted. I only paused long enough to say “aw man, this sucks” before picking Carley.

      • krellen says:

        I saved Carley because I thought, with her one measly zombie assailant, a reload would allow her to save Doug. Then a bunch of other zombies come out of nowhere to mess that all up.

        I suspect that “women and children first” was somewhat of a factor in this choice as well.

        • Zombie says:

          I saved her cause I figure, great, I’ll toss it to her, and then run and save Doug.That didn’t happen. If I remember right, Lee fumbles around with the purse, and then manages to get her the rounds just in time to save her, but not Doug. Really, who saved Doug unless you came back just to see how the game played with him?

          • Isy says:

            Apparently Shamus did, and without much of a struggle. :P

            “Women and children first” may be a part of it, but I don’t think it can explain 75% of people choosing Carley, especially when the Duck/Shawn split was nearer to even.

            I kinda wish they’d said how Doug rescued Carley the first time. It’s like the writers themselves couldn’t figure it out and so skidded over the issue as fast as possible. It could have fleshed him out a little more, and he needed it.

            • Cupcaeks says:

              Carley’s demonstrable skill with a gun is what mainly factored into my decision to save her first. At the time I thought she would be able to help me get the zombies off of Doug, but I was obviously wrong about that. Other than that, she also places a modicum of trust in you despite knowing about your history, and I felt like I owed her for giving me the benefit of the doubt.

              I agree that more detail on Doug’s act of rescue would have been great. In my game, all I really knew about him was that he was probably brave and he was good with electronics, and the latter didn’t seem like a terribly useful skill in a world that was probably going to be without power soon enough.

              • Isy says:

                Lee even says “Doug doesn’t seem too good around zombies.” Based on what? And how did he save Carley then?

                Heck, I would have loved some interaction between the two of them. She has a crush on him! He saved her life! Can we do a little more than have her stare at his backside while he stares at a closed door? If he’s so good with technology, why can’t he “fix” the radio? We have this great contrast between a social tech-idiot and a nerdy IT guy and it’s completely wasted.

                • anaphysik says:

                  Isn’t is obvious? Doug only knew how to work that remote because it already had its batteries in.

                • Indy says:

                  Doug was on watch at the time, Carley was taking it easy and took it upon herself to fix the radio. And then just stared at it while you looked for batteries.

                  • Isy says:

                    Yeah, but Doug’s “watch” consisted of him standing a foot away and staring at a solid wooden door. That was protected by a locked metal gate.

                    • Jokerman says:

                      I really think that was gonna be a little different at some point in development, maybe the doors were not going to be there for some reason and just the gate was between the shop and the outside – but they ended up having to put a loading screen between the two so it would run smoothly.

            • Deadpool says:

              One of the things I felt were missing from this game:

              What if you chose to wait until night you skip Hershell’s farm entirely. Meet Doug and Carley, watch him save her, then end up in the Drugstore in time to see Kenny and his family come in after you.

              Oversimplification here, but you get the point.

              • Sagretti says:

                That’s actually a really interesting idea, since it was also make the following ‘shoot the kid’ scene much more powerful. Instead of having witnessed what happened to Duck, you’d have to judge whether a father is telling the truth or lying to try and save his kid.

          • Aldowyn says:

            I saved Doug – It looked like Carley had more of a chance to save herself than Doug did, for some reason. *shrug* Also Doug is a cool character, and (ep 3) I probably prefer the scene where Lily shoots someone with Doug instead of Carley. Instead of getting all shouty, Doug is quietly trying to calm everyone down and ends up taking a bullet for Ben when Carley tries to shoot him. A hero indeed…

            • Thomas says:

              I saved Doug one for this reason and two (because I couldn’t handle the stress and became a reloading cheat) because Doug seemed a lot more grounded to me. There seemed to be signs that Carley was freaking out and I figured losing Doug might send her over the edge. Whereas Doug looked like he could deal with pain

              • Roland Jones says:

                I saved Doug because, well, I legitimately thought Carley would be okay. I know that from a metagame perspective it was one or the other, but I really wasn’t thinking about it that way.

        • RTBones says:

          I saved Carley, largely because of her prowess with firearms. I figured a gun hand would be helpful later on. But I also thought she would be “easier” to save and could turn the gun on the walkers attacking Doug. Not so much.

          It would have been interesting if you could have saved both (via Carley first and then her using the gun) because it would have allowed Carleys crush to play out.

      • Tse says:

        She is also more visually appealing, not just “Cute, in a ‘Parent’s basement’ sort of way.”

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I figure there are 4 motivating factors to saving Carly:

      1.) Women and Children First
      2.) More screen time, and therefore more player connection
      3.) She can demonstrably shoot.

      but I think the 4th shouldn’t be overlooked, even if it is metagamy:

      4.) She knows who Lee is, which means she could provide some interesting gameplay later.

      • krellen says:

        If you’re a Lee trying to hide your past, #4 would be a reason to pick Doug.

        • ccesarano says:

          This actually didn’t cross my mind. The funny thing is, I made the choice quick. I know one was dying, and I chose the one that could shoot. In hindsight, I imagine choosing the one that doesn’t know about your past would be good reasoning as well.

          I still felt dirty because I generically saved the chick, though.

          But it did bring to question…

          Carly later encourages Lee to tell people about his past. I had Lee tell EVERYONE that he had killed someone, and when Lilly tried to pull that as a weapon against Lee in episode 3 no one cared because they already knew.

          So what happens with Doug?

          • Really? (Episode 2 + 3)Lilly never tried to pull that on me. I told everyone too because Carlee asked me to, and not a single person cared. In fact, when I told Lilly, she was pleased that I trusted her. I guess it is because I saved Duck from Larry and tried to revive Larry in Episode 2.

            I saved Carlee because frankly she’d be more useful and the game really makes her seem more important than Doug.

        • Hitchmeister says:

          I haven’t played the game. I just know the events from watching this. I have the unpopular view around here, it seems. Carly knows Lee’s past, but she’s willing to keep quiet and give him the benefit of the doubt. People are saying that’s a reason to make sure she stays around. But she also implied that if things go wahoonie-shaped she’s going to let the group know who they’re dealing with. That’s motive for me to lower the priority on saving her. I can’t trust anyone else to stay as rational and reasonable as myself.

          • Thomas says:

            I chose Doug for other reasons but it did amuse me that my Ep 1 and Ep 2 just happened to end with the deaths of the two people who admitted to knowing Lee’s secret

            So I enjoyed it when I was called out on it at the end

          • You could also choose to look at it that if Lee saves Carlee, he now has a confidant who he trusts to be able to talk to and tell secrets and thoughts to. Clementine could also serve this role, but she’s a child so it would feel wrong to do that.

    • evileeyore says:

      I saved Doug. I didn’t realize Carly was too dumb to have reloaded her gun and needed ammo, I had no idea why she was focused on her purse.

      I saw her, gun-totting chick who has proven to be able to handle herself and her gun competently and the guy who had no weapons and was grabbed from behind.

      I figured Carly would save herself no matter what (she had a gun) and that Doug would die no matter what, but I chose to try to save the guy who appeared to need more help.

      When Carly went down because she was so incompetent as to have not reloaded her gun? Well, that’s Darwinism for you.

      • Indy says:

        She was holding back a zombie horde at a window, she probably didn’t have time to reload a non-empty clip. It didn’t seem like Darwinism to me.

      • Isy says:

        Rutskarn also said it’s not even clear she’s out of bullets. Which is really weird to me because in my playthrough she clearly stated “Out of bullets… my purse!” I’m not really sure how much clearer she could get in the 1.5 seconds before the zombie ate her. Maybe there was a patch? I’m only just playing now.

        Though let’s be fair, if Lee “Butterfingers” Everett hadn’t spent 15 seconds fumbling around with her purse, she probably could have saved Doug too. One thing I appreciate about the later episodes is Lee spends much less time dropping things, fumbling them, slipping on stuff, and smashing his head on everything. I know he has a bum leg, but come on.

        • Thomas says:

          I played last week and I don’t remember doing anything but holding her gun and stretching for her bag. I definitely assumed that she had bullets left, and it took me until she was actually being killed to work out that she didn’t

    • anaphysik says:

      Is there a mod that lets you save both Carley and Doug at the expense of Lilly and Larry getting eaten? Just Larry would be acceptable, as well.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Yep.

      Carley:

      Good at shooting
      We went on a rescue mission together
      Heard people from her station get killed
      Talked about Lee’s past

      Doug:
      “I like robots!”

    • Wraith says:

      Very true, because Carley does accompany you to the motel. To my understanding, however it is actually BETTER to save Carley than Doug if you’re meta-gaming. In Episode 3, Carley suggests that you reveal the truth about your past to people you trust. Doing so makes Kenny trust you more, not doing so makes him trust you less. AFAIK, if you save Doug you get no such option at all. This screwed me when I tried to do a meta-gamey “Kenny+Lee Bros4Lyfe” playthrough, where I simultaneously saved Doug because I’d saved Carley before.

  4. anaphysik says:

    I hate how Lee never thinks to, you know, take that first aid kit. You could use it for more than just a bit of gauze, you know. (Haven’t played E2, so maybe they get more supplies (cliffhanger of E1 suggests no…), but even something extremely simple like that should have been packed in the truck.)

    Also, neat note: the police officer has the exact same style of first aid kit in his car. You can see it flying around during the car crash.

    EDIT: Upon review, it doesn’t look like the same model at all. Very different shape. That’s cool. (Also, I hope no one ninja’d me in pointing out this mistake.)

    • krellen says:

      It doesn’t really come up. The medical supplies that are in short supply aren’t first-aid kit sorts of medicine.

      • Zombie says:

        And really, the biggest threat in the universe doesn’t really have a medicinal cure, so adding extra weight that may or may not come in handy at a future date is pointless. Plus, I would think the people who have been holed up in there would have already raided just about everything.

        • Deadpool says:

          You’d be surprised how useful things like disinfectants are when civilization goes to hell…

          • Zombie says:

            Yeah, but if its picked over and all that’s in there is band-aids and gauze, that wouldn’t be worth lugging around a whole box. Still doesn’t answer WHY he didn’t take the stuff in the box, but it does explain why he didn’t take the whole box with him. Plus, the idea is they think their going to be staying around for a while longer.

        • Phantom Hoover says:

          Wait, in The Walking Dead doesn’t everyone who dies for any reason at all turn into a zombie? The zombies themselves kill people by infecting them with common bacteria from their filthy, rotting mouths; having antibiotics, disinfectant and dressing on hand would be a lifesaver.

          • Jakey says:

            It flip-flops on the issue because they never really confirm the specifics of what is it about the bite that causes you to die.

            • Thomas says:

              They make it seem (accidentally?) even the other way, because all the people who get bitten seem to have zombiesh face colouring before they die (could just be the art style suggesting that they’re sick)

            • So they never confirm getting bitten by a zombie is like getting bitten by a komodo dragon (aka mouth full of very nasty bacteria= likely death from infection)? I must smack my friend who told me that then.

              • I think in the comic they do, and the TV show implies this (as everyone who’s bitten becomes a zombie). The comic and TV show both demonstrate that just dying is enough to let the infection zombify you as well, it just either remains dormant while you’re alive somehow (maybe your immune system suppresses it, toxins created by opportunistic bacteria post-mortem give it a chance to thrive, who knows?).

                While trying to “diagnose” how this disease “works” is pretty silly, since death and decomposition seem to do wonders for stamina, the idea that the bite delivers a super-shot or perhaps a more resistant strain of whatever makes one a zombie is plausible.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  We learn that everyone that dies becomes a zombie in episode 2. The bite thing comes up a couple times but the game never clarifies if it’s normal infection or something to do with the zombie virus or whatever.

                  • I figure that given Larry already knows that if you’re bitten, you turn (see last episode) vs. just getting an infected cut, the game assumes you’re familiar with the tropes involved. I’d also have figured that if it was just infection, Larry would have listed it as reason to kill the girl.

                    If just being injured turned you, I think the survivors would have found that out by now and mentioned it. Besides, if an infected wound is bad enough to kill you, you’re going to zombie up anyway.

  5. Tse says:

    You exit through the back door. You’re not locked in, but you can’t all leave without doing something about Larry.

    • anaphysik says:

      Also, you need gas for Kenny’s truck & want more for Glenn’s car, which Glenn is getting.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      And more relevant to the point, I seem to recall a dialogue where Doug says it would be too dangerous to go out the back and circle around with all those zombies on the street. It’s dangerous enough just going out the front door.

  6. Joneleth says:

    I have been following Spoiler Warning since it started *puts on hipster glasses*, but this is the first time I actually played and finished a game they picked for a season (ME series being the only exception).

    I heard about The Walking Dead before, but I was willing to pass because I did not find the setting or the premise that appealing. I went against that decision thanks to the glowing praise from Shamus and Chris, and now I’m emotionally a train wreck. I was bawling my eyes out by the end. So, thanks guys!

    Seriously though, I have played many good games before, but never felt this level of connection with the characters, with the protagonist and especially the deuteragonist. It was surprising, and it was special.

    Granted, none of this would have been possible with the things Telltale nailed down: writing, gameplay that does not interfere with pacing, voice acting, music. There is one thing that I would add to that list: the art style. Departure from photo-realism not only made the game easier to produce, but also made it easier for us to associate with the characters.

    Scott McCloud discusses how such a thing is possible in his book ‘Understanding Comics’ (highly recommended if you haven’t read it). Basically, his point is that the more abstract a character’s representation is, the easier it is for the character to serve as a vessel for self-insertion. We’ve got our brains’ visual processing and facial recognition power to thank for this. A circle, two dots and a line can give you a face, and once it does, you cannot unsee it. That face can represent anyone, but a photo of a face makes your subconsciousness recognize it as another ‘individual’. Insertion, empathy, association is not impossible in this case (otherwise we wouldn’t have movies or plays), but the barrier is higher. That’s the power of comics, Scott McCloud claims.

    Your milage may vary, but I suspect that’s why I was so engrossed in this game. I wasn’t just playing Lee, I was channeling myself through him to protect Clementine. With a well-written, believable and adorable child lead like Clem, it worked. Beautifully.

    So yeah. You’d better be nice to Clementine, Josh. Don’t make me make a Taken reference!

  7. Spammy says:

    Callbacks to previous seasons? I LOVE callbacks to previous seasons!

    Can I say one thing about zombies that I’ve noticed? It seems like that with one exception, every story even partially about zombies or using zombies has to focus on the “People are the real monsters!” angle in order to get the creep/scare factor, instead of the zombies themselves being scary.

    There’s Source mod out there called Nightmare house. They’ve made two games in that series. Both of them have zombies. The first one’s zombies are pretty much Headcrab zombies minus the Headcrabs. Same sounds, same attacks, and so on. The second one opted for “original” enemies. Which meant new looks and sounds on top of Headcrab zombie animations.

    And the Nightmare House 2 zombies absolutely did not scare me, and I realized why Headcrab zombies ever did: Valve has made the only zombies where the “This used to be a person” aspect actually sticks. Because you can hear them and they’re not making random growls and snarls, they actually sound like people. Honestly, how many of you people are now hearing that scream that Headcrab zombies let out when they’re on fire? That garbled mess that sounds caught between crying in pain and pleading for mercy? And Combine zombies are still rasping out messages on their radio. And Poison Headcrab Zombies seem to laugh when you kill them.

    I’ve never played any other zombie games where the zombies themselves actually scared me like they did in Half-Life 2. Because they don’t look human, they don’t sound human, they don’t act human… there’s nothing to remind me that this was a person that something horrible happened to. Even this franchise has that problem, you’re not really scared of the zombies any more than, say… a Velociraptor. I mean, you can crank up the, “Oh no, someone’s about to get eaten!” fear level if you have good characters the audience cares about (like here), but that still doesn’t make the zombies that scary.

    So yeah. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re making a game or movie and you want your zombies to be really scary… make them less zombie and more human.

    • Alex says:

      I agree. Other enemies can be interesting for what they are, but zombies are primarily interesting because of what they were. It is the body horror aspect that makes zombies work, and that means your character designs need to emphasise that this was once a person. This is basically my complaint about Sedition Wars’ Strain, that the biomechanical bits drown out the features that should be horrifying.

    • baseless research says:

      System Shock 2′s zombies are the same. First of all, some of them use weapons like shotguns, so that’s not something you see every game. But most importantly, while attacking you, between the random growls and grunts, you’ll hear stuff like “KILL ME!” “I’M SORRY”. And so on. It’s genuinly unsettling.

      And let’s not talk about the midwives. Shudder.

    • Alphadrop says:

      One of the reasons Half Life is one of me fave games is the zombies. They have a proper reason for being rather than unidentified zombeh plague and the tortured anguish of the still sentient human under the headcrab is spooky as heck. Opposing Force helped flesh them out a bit more as well by showing science team staff examining them with a sort of innocence you knew was going to get them all killed.
      Helps all the surviving Black Mesa staff in the original and the rebels in 2 are the opposite of the standard everyone is an arsehole trope that gets bandied about way to much in modern zombeh stuff.

      Resident Evil should get a mention as well I guess. The originals went a long way to show that the zombehs were people, from scattered journals to meeting ex-alive dudes later. One of the weaker bits of RE 4 was that you didn’t really get a feel for how the villagers reacted to becoming mind controlled slaves and 5 and 6 were just naff in that department.

  8. supflidowg says:

    Clementine is one of the greatest characters of the series only surpassed by Lee because of how much characterization goes on with them it gets you to sympathize with the characters and want to know what happens next with them(which made the wait between the episodes so stressful)In episode 5 I felt like a justified jerk while simultaneously crying like a baby at the end, I wonder who would leave the food in the car in episode 2

    • Zombie says:

      I did, because an unlocked car with its lights on in the middle of an abandoned street with a ton of stuff in it seems too good to be true. However, if the car didn’t have lights on, I would have taken it. I’m a complicated guy like that.

      Also, I think Clem is such a strong character because of what she represents, the passing from childhood to adulthood, but we feel for her, because we (probably) never had to grow up as fast as she is having to. from the St. Johns’ and their cannibalism, to the deaths in episode 3, having to go to Crawford and being abducted in 4 and finally having to put down Lee after just meeting up with him again, and being forced to strike out on her own, that’s stuff that scars people for life, and would send most of us to a nice, padded cell somewhere, but Clem takes it in stride and creates a character out of it. And a good one at that. Its powerful stuff, and makes you feel so bad for her, but have a glimmer of hope at the same time.

    • (Episode 2)I opted not to take the supplies in the car. Simply put, I cared significantly more about what Clementine thought of me then what Kenny, Lilly, or any other cast member did. Clementine always comes first, no exceptions.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Helping with moving a desk may not seem like much but I really love that she’s there, in the world, doing things and not just a cut-scene plot motivation kid.

      It’s a really simple thing that so many games miss, and it applies for all characters and not just children. If you want me to like a character, have them do something together with my character outside of talking and the main fighting mechanic.

      • I love that later in the game she becomes much more useful and the group would have died several times over had she not been there. She basically becomes the go-to girl for getting into vents and unlocking doors and stuff, since she can fit into small spaces.

      • Aldowyn says:

        That’s part of what I like about Clem. She WANTS to help and actively looks for ways to do so, instead of just sitting there being protected.

        • Hydralysk says:

          I like that too, it’s also why I liked Ben even though he gets almost universal contempt it seems. Ben is usually just trying to help and makes things worse, while Clementine tries to help and proves an asset. It’s clear Ben wants to help people survive, even if his actions cause people’s deaths. He’s a colossal screw up, but I always felt his heart was in the right place, and he felt so guilty I couldn’t help but sympathize. Though maybe it’s also because Ben is probably about as useful and brave as I’d imagine myself being in that situation.

    • Jokerman says:

      I wouldnt of taken the supplies normally, but honestly after what you have just gone through a few seconds before just put me in the “Do what ever it takes” mindeset, i didnt keep the mindset for long after but right at that moment i felt we needed to just grab the stuff.

  9. Isy says:

    What I didn’t get about the lock – they clicked it onto the fence in the first cutscene. So was it just lying around and unlocked until then? If so… why? Did they just decide their security was good enough until you showed up? If not… how did they get it off so they could get out, herd you in, then relock the gate, if they didn’t know the combo?

  10. Guvnorium says:

    Oy, I like U.S. history! Might come with the territory of being a history major.

    Actually, in episode four when Krista asks Lee “who likes Civil War history, anyway?” and he raises his hand, it just made me like him that much more.

    Also, Andrew Jackson… somehow talking about him feels too much like politics, so I’ll say nothing.

    • I loved the picture of James Garfield on the wall in the mansion eps 4 and 5 I have that exact picture as the wallpaper on my tablet.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Im currently playing asscreed 3,does that count as american history?

      • Yes, because you need to know that every significant event in the American Revolution was done with the help of some random Native American jackass. Connor did everything.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Why is he such a jackass anyway?He speaks with more respect during the death talks then when he is talking with people who are helping him.Is it his genes?Because I dont remember ezio being such a jerk.Is it his english blood*?But his father was way more polite.Guess we now know who desmond got it from anyway.

          *I would ask if its his indian blood,but I dont think Ive seen that trope.British as assholes trope Ive seen plenty of though.

          • I think the writers were using him as a way to be critical of everyone of the era and point out the grayness of the time. He is pointing out the hypocrisy of the Patriots, the tyranny of the king, the seeming contradictions of the Templars, and the inability of the Assassins to get anything done.

            He’s like Altair in the first one, always questioning everything. I like that concept, though I wish it were better handled.

            The Homestead missions do help to mellow him out.

    • Atarlost says:

      Sure. Our history is as interesting as anyones. We’ve just got less of it than some. Doesn’t change how badly it’s usually taught at the primary school level.

      Political correctness really sucks all the history out of history. Can’t talk about important and/or complex stuff like the national bank issue or tariffs or the strategic importance of Florida or any of that because little kids are too dumb or their parents too easily offended. I’m sure they’d skim over the slavery issue too if they didn’t have the civil war staring them in the face.

      • I will say that I hated history up until middle school. It was absolutely boring and uninteresting memorization until then and they didn’t talk about why all these things happened.

        Once you get into the interesting stuff, the politics, the reactions, the figures involved, then it begins to grow interesting.

        • Zombie says:

          I like History, but history class was always boring until High School, cause their less afraid of giving you the straight up facts. There is still a lot of Political Correctness, but at least some stuff gets a greyish tinge to it.

          • That is the best part of history: The grey-on-grey nature of it. The fact that everyone is usually a mix of both right and wrong.

            That may be why I always love those kinds of plots in stories, like in the original Assassin’s Creed. No one is straight up right or wrong, there is usually much more to the story.

          • Guvnorium says:

            I had a good fifth grade history teacher. It helped that this was the year after 9/11, so we talked about some pretty heavy current events, too.

    • I thought that moment was pretty funny. A good to lighthearted joke to lighten up the mood after what happened. The game did pretty well in that regard, pacing highs and lows well so that the player isn’t overwhelmed by either resounding depression or humor, making both very meaningful.

      BTW, that was towards the end of Episode 3, not 4.

    • Speaking of history teachers in our media, contrast Lee with the lead guy (I think his name is Tom) from the TV show, “Falling Skies.” Every time he can, Tom interjects a monologue/info dump about how “wow, this is just like Appomattox,” or “Abe Lincoln had to make a similar choice to this,” and so forth. He’s worse than those people you know that’ll start singing when you happen to say two words that coincidentally appear in a song they know.

      Maybe Tom should’ve killed someone, to. That seems to put a cork in the whole “and now it’s time for a lecture” stuff.

      • Aldowyn says:

        That’s a character difference, I think. Doug does the same thing you describe Tom as doing, just with electronics. There’s this one time Lee asks him “what do you know about this flashlight?” and has to interrupt Doug to make sure he doesn’t start rambling about it.

        • Nobody ever interrupts Tom.

          What’s worse, he contradicts himself horribly, as he spent nearly all of season 1 telling everyone how what they were doing was just like the Civil War or the American Revolution, how history repeats, etc. Then at the cliffhanger, he tells an alien leader how you can’t use human history to predict their behavior because the future hasn’t been written yet.

          I can see where the sentiment was when they wrote that, but they really should have had someone else say it.

  11. Grescheks says:

    I’m not sure if anyone else feels this way, but I’m not a huge fan of doing Spoiler Warning on a dialogue heavy game like this. I find it hard to keep track of what’s happening in the game and what everyone’s saying. With a different LP group, this might not be a problem, but a big part of why I like Spoiler Warning is the insightful commentary. Not that I’m suggesting stopping the season or anything, just thought I’d toss my opinion out into the audiant void.

    • This is the first game where I’ve had to stop and remind myself to listen to the crew instead of just paying attention to the game dialog, every single other game I’ve had to actively try to pay attention to dialog.

      • krellen says:

        It’d help if Josh turned down the game audio a bit.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Agreed.

          Though it speaks well for the game,since none of the other games had me so invested that Id stop listening to the spoiler warning crew because the characters in the game were talking about something.And some of those games were much louder.

          • Bryan says:

            Eh, just watch it twice. First time through, pay more attention to the game dialogue, when conflict between the two happens. Then the second time through, remember the conflict-y spots and pay more attention to what the group is saying there. Or, if there are few enough conflict-y spots (the rate depends on how well you can keep two conversations foremost in your brain at once), replay them immediately.

            And though it is happening more often in TWD than in ME3, for instance, I don’t think it’s happening more often than (e.g.) DX:HR. This might be different for different people too, though.

        • Greg says:

          +1 this. Maybe it’s only because I’ve played this game, but I feel like having subtitles means you don’t need to have the actual spoken dialogue be on a level anywhere near the commentary crew’s.

          Granted, the voice acting is AWESOME, but that’s part of what makes it too distracting.

          • Aldowyn says:

            I think part of the problem is that you REALLY REALLY shouldn’t be watching this unless you’ve played it, I think. Either go play it or go watch another LP where they’re just playing (or a fairly calm reaction LP)

            In other words: You should have experienced the game already so it shouldn’t be warring for your attention too much. Also, quieter game audio would be nice to help that fact (keep subtitles though)

        • Steve C says:

          I thought the audio was perfect as is. Not too loud. Not too soft. I can choose to listen to either as my interest changes between the game and the commentary. I’m interested in the dialogue choices I didn’t make.

    • On the other hand, doing it on a game like this is far less grating than the constant bitch fest ME3 devolved into in both the show and the comments. I’d rather do games like this.

  12. Spencer Petersen says:

    While overall I feel the 1st Episode is the weakest overall, it does such a great job of establishing the relationship between Clem and Lee that it basically means the writers are free to test it throughout all of the remaining episodes. The combination of music, dialogue and interaction makes the pharmacy office probably the best individual scene from any game I have ever seen, bar none. The only competition for which is probably just other scenes in this game.

    Link to a guy who extracted the soundtrack from the game and made a Youtube playlist
    NOTE: DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS THEY WILL SPOIL EVERYTHING
    The related videos tab and song titles may have spoilers as well, read at your own risk.

    Personal Favorites are:
    #2 Alive Inside (The Pharmacy Office Theme)
    #4 Its Over
    #16 Armed With Death

    On a side note, I wonder if the disparity between Doug and Carley when it comes to saving is partly due to natural gamer instincts to regard women characters more highly because they are more rare. Many games just use women as a object to be saved and I wonder if that bleeds into this game subconsciously.

  13. ClearWater says:

    The most annoying thing about you guys playing a good game is that I’m torn between following the game’s story and the conversation. I tend to miss half of both.

  14. Deadpool says:

    I find it unfair to look at Zombies as a genre. Walking Dead, Dead Island, Resident Evil 5 and ZombiU are completely different games…

    Btw, since I’m here, ZombiU is one of the best survival horror games I’ve seen in a long, long, LONG time…

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats because zombies are a setting,not a genre.

      But this confusion of genre/setting is almost universal to scifi/fantasy,not just zombies.

    • Shamus says:

      Right, but I was talking about story, not gameplay. I was mostly responding to the ongoing conversation about how there are “too many” zombie games, when other story genres are much, much more common. And now that you mention it, the fact that the zombie games have such varied gameplay is another point in their favor. Heck, I’ll bet there are more medieval fantasy WoW knockoffs than all zombie games combined, regardless of gameplay genre.

      EDIT: Ah. As DL pointed out, this would have been much less muddled if I’d called it “setting” instead of “genre”.

      • Wedge says:

        I think the thing about Zombie media (games, movies, TV, ANYTHING) is that there’s a very narrow range of themes that are possible in the setting, so a lot of the same stories get told over and over again. Frankly, this isn’t even the zombies fault. I realized this the other day when my roommate began watching Survivors, a similar post-apocalypse type show. There are no zombies, just a global plague that wipes out 99% of people on Earth, and yet it was ALL of the same tired tropes and plotlines as your typical zombie fare. The problem is the whole “total collapse of society” part, and zombies are almost synonymous with that. There is really only so much you can do with that setting, and the possibility space has been well-explored in recent years.

        Compare this to generic sci-fi or high fantasy. While I’ll happily agree that those settings are overdone, both of them are very open and have room for a large diversity of plots and themes. As an obvious example, think Star Wars vs. Star Trek–they’re entirely different stories, with different themes that are explored in different ways. Besides “takes place in space” they have practically nothing in common. That’s just not true of most zombie media.

        • Thomas says:

          This might be it, because even though it doesn’t make sense I#m much more tired of Zombies than any other setting (I’m not excited about medieval fantasy, but I don’t actively dislike it) so maybe it’s the lack of flexibility. Medieval fantasy is pretty played out, but you can stick almost any story you want in there and there’s even a lot of variation in the things you can do to the setting. Zombies have fast zombies and crazy zombies and then they’re pretty much dry.

  15. Cupcaeks says:

    On the whole video game conversation thing: Maybe me and the people I know are just weird, but looking back I find that the majority of our conversations take place while we’re doing nothing else but standing or sitting around. There might be a TV or something going in the background, and sometimes there’s beverages involved, but for the most part all we’re doing is talking. Very rarely will I be working on something and having a conversation, unless it pertains directly to what I’m doing at that moment, though this could just be because I’m very single minded. Anyway, my point is that conversation set ups in video games never struck me as particularly off, and I think that’s the reason why.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      But people in video games dont do even those things.How often is the pc just standing next to a table where someone is drinking?Very rarely will you find a video game conversation be over a beverage,or over the background sound of tv,or something like that.

      • Cupcaeks says:

        That’s exactly what I mean, though. When I say sometimes there’s a TV or beverages, I really mean only some of the time. Mostly, we just stand/sit around and talk, nothing else involved, just two or more people doing nothing but talking. I don’t think this is that uncommon, but I can only speak from my own experience here.

        Now, granted there aren’t just people standing still in the same spot waiting for me to start a conversation as is common in most games, but the way the conversations play out after initiation is pretty much how my conversations go in real life. The example you gave where the PC is standing and talking to someone who’s sitting is kind of weird, but that happens maybe once or twice a game in my experience (I’m thinking of the Deus Ex games and pretty much every Bioware game ever made here). The rest of the time, it’s two dudes standing and talking, and that seems perfectly normal to me. Again, maybe me and the people I know are just weird.

        • I will say that your situation seems like an outlier. When I talk with my friends, we are usually doing something else at the same time. This could be eating lunch, doing homework, waiting for class to start, watching videos or playing games, etc.

          I don’t usually stand around when talking unless I’m doing something like pouring a bottle of water.

          • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            Well, they’re called water cooler conversations for a reason.

            • Aldowyn says:

              Well at least ostensibly you’re getting a drink of water. That’s something.

              I don’t just talk to people much either – I’m either going someplace or there’s some context – like hanging around in the building lobby talking about a test.

              A lot of it is animation. You don’t see people just standing stock still talking to each other, like Oblivion. You lean against something, talk with your hands, nod in acknowledgement, all sorts of ‘little things’ that you just don’t see in games.

              • X2Eliah says:

                … You do know they sort of solved it in skyrim, yes? And about a bahjillion other recent games? TWD is not some miraculous videogame second coming that’s the only one to completely blow gamer minds with how it handles conversations.

                Also, random note – in this game, all the conversation happens while characters stand still, and all the “action while conversing” is between the talky bits. Re: Lee & Clem talking “while” pushing furniture around.

                • Shamus says:

                  You do see how this is still different, and better, yes? Then why are you haggling over such a small point? You’ve made it clear that you’re sick of zombies and don’t care about this game and have no desire to play it. Fine. But I’m not sure what value there is in arguing with fans in such a hyperbolic style. (i.e. nobody has called it the “second coming”.)

                  Skyrim was a very small step in the right direction and this game was a massive leap. I still think that’s praiseworthy, even if there’s some other game – or a “bajoillion” games – that I missed in the interim.

                  • Aldowyn says:

                    *shrug* You might be exaggerating the point a bit. Most of the ‘massive leap’ comes from the simple graphics that put the faces well before the uncanny valley and make animation easier, I think.

                    I’m somewhere between the two of you, I think. Skyrim was WAY better than Oblivion, and ME2/3 were quite a bit better than ME1, and this is significantly but not a TON better than either.

              • Cupcaeks says:

                Okay, so from what I gather here, what people are finding weird isn’t so much people standing around and talking, its the lack of emoting and natural motion that’s disconcerting? Because I could totally see why that would be weird (it would certainly freak me out if I saw that happen in real life), even if it’s not something I generally pick up on while I’m in the middle of playing. I guess I’m having trouble seeing exactly what people find wrong with video game conversations as they are in their current incarnations (Note that Deus Ex: HR, ME3, and The Walking Dead are the only recent dialogue heavy games I’ve played, so that’s what I have to go on as far as what’s current).

                Aldowyn, you mentioned context. Do you find that video game conversations lack that? I’m trying to picture a conversation taking place in a vacuum, and I can’t. The way I see it, there’s always a context, both in real life and in video games (even if it might be contrived in the case of the latter). Please forgive me if I’m misinterpreting you here.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  I’m not quite sure what I was saying before. Lemme think about it..

                  eh. It’s not the standing around, for sure. It’s like you said, the lack of emoting and such. Which TWD does a good job of, and, say, Oblivion doesn’t.

  16. Ateius says:

    The reason zombies are considered “played out” while things like high fantasy isn’t is because high fantasy is just a setting. In that setting you can have any number of plots and themes, from political intrigue to social unrest to evil necromancers. Further variation can also occur depending on what fictional high fantasy world the setting is placed in, each of which can have a fantastic amount of lore and history to discover.

    Zombies, on the other hand, have such a huge ruleset tied to them that every game about them is basically the same. “Oh no, zombies. We must shoot the zombies. It sure sucks that all of society has collapsed because of the zombies.” It doesn’t help that the games are almost universally set in the ruins of modern civilization, leaving little room for variation in that aspect either.

    The exceptions to this are Resident Evil (while its overarching story/mythos is incredibly poorly written, it does at least give a driving force to the plot beyond “Oh no, zombies”) and The Walking Dead, which thanks to its focus on characters over shotgunning zombies in the head also has something in it to capture and hold your attention.

    It’s not that zombies in and of themselves are played out; it’s that almost everyone keeps using them in the same way in the same setting to set up the same sorts of situations. Much like the endless stream of “realistic modern military shooters”, it all starts to blend together because very few are doing anything unique and different with the concept.

    • War Machine says:

      That’s a good point. When I saw the movie 28 Days Later for the first time I remember thinking: “Wow, zombies can run in this story, that’s scary”. And thinking back, that felt very refreshing to see. Certainly seeing the same mechanic play out so often in different media makes you feel numb to their scariness (just bash them in the head, how hard is it?).

      I suppose that’s the reason why vampires have changed so much over the years. No longer do they fear the sun and garlic, but they still carry enough of their traits to be called vampires. Movies with them vary from horror to mystery, from action to romance, and overall, vampires don’t seem overused.

      • СТАЛКЕР of ЗОНА says:

        But 28-zombies actually die from the same things as regular people, you don’t need headshots or complete obliteration. They’re “zombies”, but they’re not ZOMBIE zombies.
        Running undead zombies are just bullshit. Zombies are a force of nature, like bad weather, not individual superpredators. You don’t fight an individual zombie, you fight the problems caused by the occurrence of zombies, just as you don’t fight a litre of water, you fight a problem caused by the flood. You don’t go “ah, this particular cubic meter of air, my old nemesis!” in a hurricane, you go “come back house you cannot fly you are not an AEROPLANE”.
        That’s why slow zombies and 28-zombies are proper zombies – and why you actually have military types with weapons and sufficient ammo for once in 28 Days Later. They’re a threat because of the circumstances, causal or coincident, not because of individual zombies being serious threats to national security.

        And on vampires, change, and whatnot, I’ll only say “Twilight”.

        When it comes down to it, vampires are just as overused as zombies. But it’s not seeing zombies or vampires that’s the problem, it’s how they’re used in most cases. In one case zombies/vampires are an element of the story, in the other case someone just went “guys hey guys what if what if we add no wait guys what if we add zombies/vampires :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D” and someone else went “yes quite indeed that seems to be the hip thing with kids these days”.
        And that once again goes back to Godwin’s Law. And when it comes to the “rules”, if you don’t have a zombie/vampire/whatever story to tell, then don’t use zombies/vampires/etc.

  17. Deadpool says:

    I thought tech savy was less useful during Zombie apocalypse than a crack shot. I know, seems basic, but worked for me.

    • Aldowyn says:

      You would be right, if crack shot wasn’t an easier thing to learn than tech savvy, especially considering the situation. EVERYONE becomes a crack shot in a hurry.

      • Thomas says:

        It annoyed me at first that Lee didn’t run to pick up her gun after she was bagged (and her ammo) and I almost saved her just for that. But I’m glad I didn’t because guns and ammunition turned out to be as common as twigs Until all of a sudden they weren’t

        This is probably why the UK would be screwed in a zombie apocalypse and the USA wouldn’t (although I always figured a suit of armour is pretty much the ultimate Zombie defense)

  18. Arkadiy says:

    I actually really like the way the game handles the choice of Carley/Doug. I mean, it’s a videogame, you obviously are going to end up with this choice being neglected in either a very blatant or more elegant way at some point
    So TWD actually takes the time to establish both of those characters
    Not only that, but they feel like different people and have different means to accomplish the goals later on
    There actually are two different situations when you have a confrontation with Lilly later on. So you do feel like your choice was at least acknowledged
    Unlike that other game where you just have a character with a different name and same dialogue if the other one died in a suicide mission

    Anyway, Josh, they exit through back door in the room where Lee’s parents died, so they are not exactly locked. The front gate is

    • Thomas says:

      Um in the other game the dialogue did change and the survival and events also changed. In extreme cases a large part of the story of the mission also changes, with lots of different cutscenes and conversations and motivations which is why comparing the two isn’t really appropriate, because TWD isn’t aiming for choices in the same way and a comparison that treats the choices as the same would actually conclude that the other game was actually better, which no-one wants to do.

    • (Episode 2 + 3)There are a couple variants of the scene where Lilly confronts Carlee/Doug and Ben, depending on who you sided with in the freezer, whether you chose Doug or Carlee, who you confessed your past to and how they reacted, and how you acted towards Lilly at the start of the episode.

      It’s a very small touch, but it helps to maintain the illusion of the people you are with reacting differently depending on what you’ve chosen.

      • Aldowyn says:

        The lilly scene plays out very differently depending on that episode 1 choice. I mean, she still goes crazy and shoots the survivor, but it FEELS really different, due to the differences between Doug and Carley.

  19. Nick says:

    I saved Carley – I was engaged enough with the story that I just made a split second decision, and I guess I felt that I bonded more with her due to us talking about my past, which I’d picked the nicer options for. If that had been a bit more antagonistic or if I was more mercenary, I guess you could save Doug and let Carley die, taking your secret with her.

    (Of course, Larry also knows your secret but you don’t know that yet)

    • Even says:

      This. I wasn’t particularly invested in thinking in terms of long term survival when going after the fetch quest or when making a split-second decision. Also it’s not as if you were officially part of the group anyway at that point to be in the position of making that kind of decisions. You just fell into a situation along with Kenny’s family as far as the story is concerned.

  20. Erik says:

    While some of the stuff you said about Dead Island are not necessarily false, i dont think the game is not worth playing. As a single player experience it comes up short, but as a co-op experience i had a LOT of fun with it.

    • Mattias42 says:

      I thought Dead Island was a great game, even flying solo.

      But then again I liked the trailer AND the game, a opinion I seem to be alone in. I saw the trailer as a tragedy among many and thought it captured the horror of the situation perfectly.

      If you actually pay attention to world, you’ll see half built sandcastles, blood splattered cars with torn of doors, dropped teddy bears and so on.

      Not to mention the quests, like ending a mans zombiefied wife and daughters suffering. Perhaps you digress, but I would call that horrific and tragic.

      Now the game gets quite same-y towards the end and halfway through the game you have seen all its tricks, but the world, characters and story I thought quite good.

      • Even says:

        I can confirm it’s not that bad playing solo if you know what you’re in for. Having watched various Let’s Plays I had a pretty good idea how to deal with the combat and general gameplay. Melee focus, using guns mostly against other humans etc. Only thing I was worried was having enough cash, but even that turned out to be a non-issue. With the perks that reduce the cash penalty and generally just trying to play it safe I never really ended up not having enough money to do repairs or upgrades. Once I got a good feel on the combat, I enjoyed it for the most parts. Ignoring a few areas with insane spawn rates (I could literally see Infected mobs just spawning out of thin air in one spot every 10 seconds or so, more spawning further on and constantly coming for me), the challenge felt about right. With some tactical planning and crowd control even large groups aren’t that hard to deal with.

        I didn’t really care that much for the story though. It wasn’t offensively bad, but I found it hard to care and really feel for the characters.

  21. Danath says:

    Regarding heading out that you guys said bothered you at the end of the episode, I’m assuming you used a different exit, like into the alleyway or some such that would be suicidal to run all the way around outside from.

    • Thomas says:

      You can see the other exit, it’s in the office. Whats confusing is, if you talk to Glenn about the combination lock, he advises you to use the back exit instead

      • Danath says:

        I assume Glenn hasn’t looked out front, where I’m assuming there’s this big group of zombies that just doesn’t want to leave.

        But that explains the whole “we can come and go as we please despite the front being locked”.

  22. Jokerman says:

    Just finished episode 5, wow…..heavy stuff. Only time i have never been so close to getting teary before. Probably my game of the year…

  23. hborrgg says:

    I’ve generally just chalked up the prevalence of zombies in videogames to “Zombies are easier to program.” As for fiction in general though, there are some really interesting reasons that people like zombies, but I think the big one just comes down to “zombie magic” being another crutch for writers like space magic or fantasy magic, magic.

  24. Alphadrop says:

    Just to be nit picky Killing Floor doesn’t have zombies in it. It’s the opposite of the “calling zombies something else because it’s a silly name” thing that you pointed out in an earlier episode as the enemies are genetically engineered clone killing machine thingies which the special forces/survivors call zombies because it’s a nice catch all word.
    …That and they have a weird sense of humour.

  25. ferry says:

    Did no one notice that Lee said “zombie” after he bandaged Clementine’s finger, at 14:49?

    • Oh wow. I never noticed that. I guess one writer/editor just wasn’t on the ball, because that statement has huge implications.

      • Greg says:

        Well, Lee’s a history professor, so he might be somewhat familiar with the voodoo stories of zombies and thought they were similar enough to bust out the word.

        The conceit, as I recall, was that “Dawn of the Dead” and similar movies had never been made in this universe, not that the entire concept of a zombie just didn’t exist. So some people can still know the word, but it’s not at all a pop culture thing, and it’s still going to be something that no one has really thought about seriously, as opposed to the real world where even the military conducts thought experiments around the possibility.

        • Well, preparing for a zombie apocalypse is also a very good way to keep yourself ready for general emergency situations while keeping it interesting, so I could see why the military would want to plan drills around it. Doubly so when you consider that nerds are an ever growing chunk of the population.

          And you’re right, Lee is a history professor and later on says he has an interest in Southern American history (I don’t consider this a spoiler), so it’s possible that he would know about traditions like voodoo in New Orleans.

          Still, considering Hollywood, it would shock me to see a world where these kinds of things were ideas, but never made into a book/movie.

    • evileeyore says:

      In the comics Hershel calls them zombies as well.

      It’s not a hardfast “rule” to ignore the zombie trope, it’s just set up as though no one really knows about zombies, as though people were more like my Mom* and less like the genre savy geek culture…

      * If you asked my Mom about zombies all she could tell you is they come back from the dead to eat brains. Maybe it’s a bite that does it or a ‘voodoo’ spell. But then she hates horror movies and has only seen the original Night of the Living Dead and The Serpent and The Rainbow. She doesn’t have any contact with zombies as a cultural phenomenon, she doesn’t read books with zombies in them, watch movies with zombies, etc.

    • My theory is that an off-camera talk happened with someone who just couldn’t take it anymore and gave everyone a stern lecture: “They are not zombies. Zombies are living people who have been turned into nearly mindless automatons via rituals involving heavy brain-altering chemicals. They don’t eat brains or flesh or whatever, so let’s just get that clear right now and come up with a different name for these things, okay?”

  26. ehlijen says:

    I feel that zombies feel overused in large parts due to rarely being used more than lazily at best.

    Yes, they need no explanation, but frankly, neither do Orks or aliens, if all you’re going for is “I want an enemy the player can gun down without asking any PC questions”. Communists and Nazis also fall into that category.

    But just because you can use something without effort doesn’t mean you should or that it will be good if you do. More could be done with zombies than most zombie stories try for, and I’m not even just talking ‘how do the humans cope with the end of the world’. Are the zombies a manmade plague? God’s punishment? Man’s hubris while seeking power? Man’s mistake while seeking a more noble goal? Is the story about survivors dealing with the end of civilisation? Or with rebuilding? Are the zombies localised? How do people treat them, game to kill or lost ones to try and cure? Or enemies reluctantly killed because of what they once were?

    There is a lot more to the dead returned to feed on the living than just ‘they’re background badguys’.

    I find it odd that so much of zombie culture is about trying the logistics of fighting them when they are meant to embody the inevitability of death. That so many ‘special’ zombies are added to what is really meant to be your lost loved ones, beckoning you to join them in the grave.

    Zombies are overdone. Just like anything that isn’t given a decent effort.

    • The inevitability of death is just one metaphor for zombies. Others have included:

      - Communism.
      - Mindless consumerism.
      - Conformity.
      - Disease epidemics.

      And there are others, but basically it’s often a way to have some giant, unreasoning force that won’t stop until you destroy it or it consumes you.

  27. MrGuy says:

    Re: Rutskarn’s point at the end that it bothered him that you could somehow “slip out the back,” but apparently not get around to the front until you opened the lock. This actually drove me to GameFAQ’s. I just assumed (because I’d been out front with Doug a few times and we were so focused on the lock) that we needed to solve the “open the lock” puzzle before we could go look for Glen. Cuz, we’re, like, locked in, right? So I kept telling Carly “Not yet” figuring I hadn’t found the magic “break the padlock” item in the store.

    First time I got actively mad at this particular game. It was in NO WAY obvious that this was achievable. I suppose I could have tried a “see what happens” if you say “Let’s go,” but I’m the smart one, right?

    To be fair, the fact that we’re about an hour and a half in and this is the first time a game made me mad IS some kind of record…

    • For me, it was slightly different. I had figured that we were supposed to solve the pharmacy puzzle before we proceeded with the plot because Larry might be useful later on. So I spent like ten or so minutes walking around the store trying to find a way into the pharmacy. Eventually, I rage-quit the puzzle and went to save Glenn, which was the right thing to do.

      It feels weird that Larry is in that state for so long. I mean, it feels like that’s something you’d want to take care of first thing, not go around doing other things while trying to break into the pharmacy.

    • I rescued Glenn before even talking to Doug, so the padlock problem seemed really strange to me because, “What do you mean I can’t go out, I just back.”

  28. MrGuy says:

    I disagree with the reason zombies are overdone being primarily related to “people already know what to expect with them.”

    Zombies (and here I’m including zombie-like enemies like RE4′s infected) have a unique element that most other enemies don’t – there’s the potential for “team switching” of characters. This can (if handled carefully and deftly, which is rare) add tons of interesting/cool tension.

    Garrus will never suddenly become a reaper, and suddenly you’re faced with a choice between killing one of your oldest friends or risking him killing you. But with zombies, there’s a chance that, no matter how much you like someone, and how much they like you, you’ll end up on opposite sides and one of you dies. EVERYONE is a potential enemy (even more so after a big fight, when someone might have been accidentally bitten). You can’t let your guard down. And you can’t trust your friends.

    A game with somewhat minimal gameplay with psycological tension like Walking Dead can really play to this as a strength. Your best fighter can turn on you. While Larry’s initial reaction to Duck is over-the-top irrational, the idea of panicked “oh crap he might be bitten kill it! kill it! it’s him or us!” reactions feels true. Used well, the zombie turning mechanic is an inherent plot tensioner.

    Which is also why zombies in games that don’t have strong characters you might care about, or that don’t really play on with the “turning” mechanic, fall a little flat for me. Dead Island is a great example of using zombies as “random mooks” and doesn’t do enough with the tension (and is the reason that the trailer that DID use this tension was so amazing).

    I guess if you’re not going to use this mechanic, the best thing to do is go the Dead Rising angle go completely over-the-top with “zombies are the paint and your chainsaw is the brush” mode of “don’t worry, they’re dead already, so kill as many of them as hilariously as you can.”

    • Tse says:

      Good point, but somewhat bad example. Garrus could become indoctrinated and indoctrination is much more insidious and dangerous than zombification. At least when somebody turns into a zombie you know they have turned.

    • Thomas says:

      I disagree somewhat because as Wedge and other people said further up, almost every non-game Zombie media involves the exact same situation where a friend is bitten and you have to deal with the consequences and people are fed up with Zombies in all forms, books, films, funny Government emergency preperations, flash mobs and games. Even things like Shawn of the Dead, the minute a situation like that pops up, I know exactly whats going to go down and I’m tired of it to the point where I want the protagonist to stop agonising over it and just see them shoot the guys block off without a guilty conscience. It even gets done in a lot of Zombie games, it even happens in it’s less advanced, don’t let me turn form in Ep1 amd Ep2 It even happens in a more advanced example with Larry Ep3 It even happens in a mid advanced example with DuckEp4 … I don’t think you actually have it happen here. Chuck prevents himself turning I guess Ep5 With a twist on it with yourself. Also you see Bria zombie. (Do you have to shoot her?)

      Killing your friend before/as/because he turns is just pretty much something you see everytime Zombies are involved. You’ve got a good idea that it would be somewhat fresh to see that built into gameplay but we’ve seen it so often I think we’d need a break first

  29. Ran some quick numbers. A solid gold Prius would cost around eight hundred Billion dollars for the gold alone (not counting the casting, design, etc). If you only spent a half million (on the gold) you’d have just enough for a 1/12th scale model, which would be un-drive-able even if the engine worked. Just further demonstrating the point I suppose.

    I’d say the “Zombie” genere is just passing through it’s unattractive awkward acne riddled teenage years. As it matures we’ll see more good examples of how the requisite tropes can be done right, and “zombie” will take its place in the pantheon of fiction.
    It’s really just another incarnation (personified no doubt) of the age old “beasts devour mankind” theme that’s been around forever. The idea of men gone ferral and destroying society has been around at least since the barbarians sacked Rome, and probably long before.
    “Vainly the sword of Colan and the ax of Alfred plied. The Danes poured in like a brainless plague, and knew not when they died.” – Ballad of the White Horse, G.K. Chesterton

    • Mintskittle says:

      RE: the gold prius. Having a sold gold prius would weigh so much that the engine, badly tuned or not, would probably just fail. On the chance it doesn’t, its MPG would be so horrid as to negate the purpose of having a hybrid vehicle.

      • Thomas says:

        I’d just like to say, for some reason I got some real enjoyment out of your Prius comments =D

        @Paul Spooner, I think settings tend to go in and out of fashion. We have lots of superhero films, we have no superhero films and suddenly they’re back again. Sometimes medieval fantasy sees a rival, sometimes people are really fed up of buddy cop films (okay I’m not sure that one’s ever happened). We have the serials and then a couple of decades later a revival of those ideas and types of stories. Dark gritty ages and light hearted responses to dark gritty ages and dark gritty responses to light hearted camp. I figure Zombies had a peak with their inception, slid back a bit, have had a new boom and now people are waiting for them to wane for a few years.

    • Zombies are currently going through their “what if they were ultra-real” phase that vampires kind of did during the early Anne Rice era. The movie looks like crap, but World War Z/The Zombie Survival Guide (both by Max Brooks) are probably the current gold standard for at least thinking the nuts-and-bolts of a zombie uprising through.

      An actual World War Z game could easily accomplish what some wished for, above: The game could be about wiping out/rebuilding the world after the dead rose, as the novel is about. The movie, however, seems to be about something entirely different.

      • Jace911 says:

        As long as you ignore everything that has to do with the Battle of Yonkers, sure.

        • Concentrating only on the Battle of Yonkers as the primary part of the novel is like reducing the Lord of the Rings to a short guy tossing a ring into some lava.

          The battle was where things went really wrong for the military and started the panic that caused the infestation. However, making the movie about that loses the gist of the novel, which is more of a retrospective about how various people coped with and reacted to the disaster.

  30. Jeysie says:

    It’s not just commercial games, either. There’s a LOT of freeware browser games that feature zombies in some way. (With Sonny 1 & 2, Lab of the Dead, and Rebuild 1 & 2 being the better ones I’ve played. Interestingly, all three of them provide more creative takes on the concept than just “kill undead mooks”.)

  31. cavalier says:

    The game is totally distracting me from y’all’s commentary. Generally I avoid zombie games because, as you say, they tend to be poorly done. I thought Walking Dead was just thinly plotted shooter. Can totally see why you love it so much. My only complaint is they don’t scavenge nearly as much as I’d like. I’m just a hoarder in games.

  32. People feel zombies are played-out (I’ve seen it called “Zombie Fatigue” a few times) because far too many people use zombies in a tedious, samey way – or try to make the zombies part of the story.

    Zombies as a backdrop let you do a lot with a story (whether it’s for a game or a film); what makes each story different isn’t the zombies.

    28 days later isn’t an excellent film because the zombies run (there are plenty of other films with fast zombies which predate it e.g. Lamberto Bava’s Demoni) – it’s a good film because the characters are strong and there’s a coherent story that the viewer can get behind.

    The Walking Dead (game) zombies are basically exactly the same zombies Romero first popularised in Night of the Living Dead (1968), and to top it off the game is set on the outskirts of the suburbs – like a million other zombie stories.

    Dead Island, on the other hand, features running zombies, and is set on a tropical island – both ideas that are relatively new to the public consciousness (especially in terms of zombies).

    It’s not the setting which makes Dead Island a poor game, nor is it the setting which makes TWD a great game – it’s the execution. The characters in TWD are engaging and believable, the story is relatively coherent, and the viewer (/gamer) can readily get behind what is happening.

    The story in Dead Island is none of these things – it wouldn’t matter if the bad guys were alien cephalopods with rocket packs and guns that fired ice-cream: the game would still feel OLD and tedious, because the story is “we’ve got to get into the most dangerous bit of the island, so we can press the magic button and escape”.

    That’s the plot of DOOM.

    -

    I think I’ve said before on this blog that zombies make an excellent backdrop – but when you stop using them as a backdrop, you have failed as a writer. They’re not actually very interesting; they’re scenery and that’s all they should ever really be.

    It’s like writing a disaster movie where the weather is the star of the show – it’s not interesting and it’s not exciting.

    What the zombies (or weather) do to the characters can be exciting or engaging – but only if we already care about these characters.

    All stories need a reason for the characters to be in the same place, and they also need a reason for conflict to occur. Zombies are one way to do this – but if it’s done badly, it’s a bad story.

    When your audience hate it, does that mean zombies are played out – or did you just write a bad story?

  33. Phantos says:

    Wanna hear something weird, Shamus?

    Chad Coleman, the guy who voiced “Coach” in L4D2, is now a cast member on The Walking Dead tv show.

    That’s two cheeseburger apocalypses by my count.

  34. Otters34 says:

    I think a major factor in the whole “Why is there more of a problem with zombie-heavy games and settings than the other genres?” thing is that…well, zombies(or ‘the infected’ or ‘shadows’ or whatever they’re painted this week) are a pretty specific kind of enemy. I know that in a lot of games they get special types and such but the majority of zombies are dangerous because they swarm you and there are many more of them than you. Basically, in fantasy settings you at least have the chance of fighting many different kinds of enemies besides just shambling dead people, and space marines at least have lots of different ways normally to deal with their space-zombies(see Isaac and his inventive ways of dispatching the necromorphs, or Regina Shepard’s headbutting of husks until they explode). Besides that, the setting is important too.

    Final Fantasy is, well, fantasy. The settings almost always look and feel very, very different. The clash the various “sci-fi” settings goes without saying. With zombie apocalypse works? Broken cities, desolated fields and car pileups. They’re like the wondrous castles or beautiful starry backdrops of the zombie apocalypse settings, and by now just as drab.

    After the 12th time through the same wrecked civilization fighting the same mindless creatures with the same themes of horror, it can be a bit tiresome.

    • Aldowyn says:

      It’s a VERY SPECIFIC setting.

      You know what would be cool? Zombie apocalypse in a non-modern setting. Imagine D&D zombie apocalypse. That could be interesting. You’d still have a lot of the same cliches, but it’d be different in some ways too. (not to mention you could have magic zombies and a good way of ENDING the zombie apocalypse – killing the wizard that started it)

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