The Walking Dead

I had bought this game awhile back while it was on sale, but never got around to playing it until yesterday.

The game is a point and click adventure game set in a post-zombie apocalypse society. In it, you explore the life of survivor Lee Everett as he acts as guardian to the 9-year old Clementine.

Caring for a little girl in a world filled with zombies, what could go wrong?

Let’s start with the pitfalls: the game is kinda buggy. I played on OSX and there were plenty of times where my mouse wouldn’t respond. Couldn’t tell you why, it just happened. And apparently, the game is so buggy — especially on other playforms like iOS — that people want their money back. That said, at least I was able to get through it all.

The gameplay, though, is gut-wrenching. In one scene, you come across a screaming teacher whose leg is caught in a bear trap. His screaming attracts zombies and you have to make the decision to amputate his leg or kill him as the zombies shamble towards you. If you choose to amputate, you’ll have to do it blow by blow. Each click on his leg brings down your axe as he screams in pain. It’s horrific, gruesome, and effective.

It’s a fictitious scenario, but set in a video game where the player controls the actions, it gives your decision a whole new gravity. And there isn’t a more weighty situation than the final scene in the game.

Lee, bitten and slowly dying, has to decide whether or not to have Clementine shoot him in the head.

I chose not to.

In the world of The Walking Dead, destroying the brain will stop a zombie. And so, having Clementine shoot Lee in the head will stop him from coming back as a zombie. It’s a terrible choice for anyone to make — especially for a 9 year old. By the end of the game, Clementine has been through so much, and the game has you choose whether or not to kill the only family she’s had in that bleak world. However, while Lee is dying, he handcuffs himself to a radiator to protect Clementine should he turn. I felt that was enough. She had been through a lot as it is — throughout the course of the final episode, she is kidnapped, shoots a man, is covered in zombie blood, and she sees her parents as zombies. It was just too much, and I couldn’t have her kill Lee on top of it all.

There’s no wonder this game has won as many awards as it has. It really advances video games as a story-telling medium by allowing the player to choose these actions. They’re fictitious, of course, but that doesn’t change the weight behind your decisions. It doesn’t change the emotion behind them.

And if you have to ask, yes, this game made me cry.

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