Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Walking Dead: Michonne: Episode 1 PS4 Review

The Walking Dead: Michonne: Episode 1 PS4 Review

Released by Telltale Games
Platform: PS4

There's something about Telltale Games' Walking Dead series.

While it can be said to be all about the zombie action, it's predominantly the human interaction which makes The Walking Dead the monster show.

And in this spin-off three episode mini-series, it's all about the interaction but with fan fave Michonne predominantly.

Set in a gap in the Walking Dead comics where Michonne disappeared, Episode 1 aka In Too Deep delves deeply into her psyche and the more damaged elements of her life, using the usual Telltale decision making mechanics that have become the norm.

But it's more about the psychological state of Michonne than anything else this time with her weariness oozing from every animated frame and informing every single decision you make for her. Even the Walker fights (which are epically staged and pop) have a dogged weariness as they play out.

Orange is the New Black star Samira Wiley adds a new dimension to Michonne that's been hinted at on the TV Series by Danai Gurira but never fully explored - the cost of surviving and the personal PTSD that this key character's suffered. Granted, in the game's first episode, it's only through being plagued by visions that we get some hints of her suffering and elements which will no doubt be played out further later on.

Loosely in this mini-series, Michonne follows the template of the usual Walking Dead tropes - meeting new authority figures who may or may not be trustworthy and who put her in a position to help make a difference by getting on the wrong side of her. This time, it's the group of survivors led by an ambivalent character Norma in a Storming Norma's jacket and a clearly bad guy with an A for attitude. On that front, it's easy to see why the story's been criticised, but given the TV Series and comics follow a similar model, it seems trite and pointless an accusation to counter.

As with all of the Telltale Games, the rub is in the decision making which pay off further down the line. It's remiss to condemn it now without seeing it all play out - you don't after all judge an entire book on a few pages.

Though, it's fair to say, that despite some great imagery (Walkers emerging out of the deep provoked recollections of Sea Devils from Doctor Who), the supporting characters around Michonne are not quite as fully formed as they could be. New friend Pete adds some humour to proceedings before promptly disappearing and the two rogues that are encountered feel less formed, leading to one's arc failing to hit quite the emotional level it needed to. (And don't even get me started on the next time trailer which airs immediately at the end and rips the heft out of the cliffhanger ending).

That said, the foundations are being laid here for something quite unusual; it's a solid start to a character that's worth spending time with; the boats and the bayou add a mystical element to proceedings to a tense little nugget of a starter. Definitely intriguing, The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 1 In Too Deep is easily a solid and enjoyable starter to a new Telltale Game series that seems destined to build on previous successes.

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