The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series Review

What was already a heartbreaking tale of loss extended beyond Clementine’s story late last year, with the sudden shuttering of creators Telltale Games. Much has been written elsewhere regarding that whole situation, and I don’t want to delve into it here really. Suffice to say, that it was a pretty horrible situation all round. Thankfully, Skybound Games were on hand to soften the blow as best they could, allowing not only some of the people affected jobs, but also the opportunity to finish one of the most beloved sagas in modern gaming. Almost a year later, they’re back again to put a wonderful end cap on the story.

As the wordy title suggests, what we have here is the complete collection of Walking Dead games that Telltale produced; from the astonishing Season 1, through spin offs Michonne and 400 Days, to the almost-didn’t-happen Season 4 closer. There have been collections before, of course, but never has everything been in one place. We also have some lengthy, and informative, commentary tracks, a collection of character models, artwork and music to peruse too. The commentary tracks take place over playthroughs of some of the more impactful episodes from each season, most clocking in at around 2 hours. There’s a good mixture of devs and voice talent involved, and it’s impossible to not hear the love that each of them have for the time they spent on the series.

I did find the mix to be a little off though. Sometimes the game audio comes through too loud, drowning out the commentary. At other points, subtitles (which can’t be turned off) don’t align with the audio. Neither does the video – during the first video of Season 1’s opener, the commentary was a full 10 seconds ahead of the video. As they are commenting on what is happening as they play, it feels disjointed. I watched these after a planned patch a few days before launch, and can only hope we get a further one to address the issues. The content is great, it’s just a shame that it isn’t presented in the best light.

Checking out the models, art and music is, well, what you’d expect really. Interesting as a novelty, and a great way to see just how much effort is put in behind the scenes before we get the finished product. The character models can all be manipulated in various ways too. Multiple animations can be selected, as well as skins and voice lines – and in any combination as well. I think certain creators may get a lot of use out of these assets… All in all, there’s a lot here for fans to dig in to, and outside of the technical issues with the commentary tracks, it’s all nicely presented.

The final touch Skybound have added to the Definitive Series is a new visual filter to every episode – graphic black. This tones down the colours and effects, and accentuates the darker areas, giving a look more in line with the graphic novels. It’s a neat addition, and looks great, though some areas can become a little harder to navigate due to the overall darkness. It’s easily switched on and off in the menu though, even during gameplay.

Chances are, you’ve played at least a little of the series before now. However, should you be completely unfamiliar, I’ll quickly go in to what to expect. The Walking Dead is a narrative based adventure game, with your choices in dialogue and actions affecting the overall outcome of the story, and the fate of its characters. Upon it’s initial release, Season 1 gained almost universal praise for it’s well realised characters and touching story. Any of you that claim to not have felt some sadness come the end of episode 5 are, well, either liars, or heartless. Playing as Lee Everett, we soon find ourselves in charge of the welfare of a little girl named Clementine, who’s parents are missing. Across the season, we help her grow and prepare for this new world, all while navigating tricky relationships with a multitude of characters and groups along the way.

Even after all these years, there’s no doubt that this season – as well as the others in the collection – hold up. While the series had a bit of a lull with season 3 in my opinion, it’s still an excellent, moving and harrowing adventure that will test your moral fibre at every turn. All in, we’ve got about 50 hours worth of Walking Dead to go through across all seasons, and for the majority you’ll be absolutely hooked. A few dips in quality, or the occasional nonsensical decision aside, there’s tales here that far exceed even that of the show. And come the end of Season 4, regardless of the outcome, we end up with some experiences that will stay with you for a long time.

Conclusion

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series brings together some of the best narrative games of the last decade in a package that celebrates not only the series, but every single person – be they creators, actors or fans – that has been there along the way. If you’ve never experienced the series before, this collection is now the perfect opportunity to jump in.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.
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Good
  • Complete collection for the first time
  • Packed with additional interesting content
  • Brilliant new visual filter brings the look closer to the comics
Bad
  • Audio issues in the commentary tracks
8.5
Great
Gameplay - 8.8
Graphics - 9
Audio - 7
Longevity - 9
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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