If the game’s title doesn’t entice you, you’re probably not a fan of the Image Comics graphic novel, or the AMC hit series, The Walking Dead. Even if you haven’t experienced tearing through book after book of TWD, or waiting all week for Sunday night, chances are you’ve at least heard of TWD from friends or family. There’s always been something about this story that’s gripped fans across the globe and the same holds true for this digital installment in the series. We’re going to cover a lot in this review, beginning with a prep course on The Walking Dead Universe (for all the newbies), then we’ll cover what we know of the samurai badass Michonne. After that, I’ll touch on what The Walking Dead: Michonne video game brings to TWD fandom as a whole. Get ready, and be warned:
The Walking Dead Saga
The comic and the show both start the story following Rick Grimes, a Sheriff’s Deputy from King County, Georgia. One day, he suffers a gunshot wound while on the job. The loss of blood knocks him out, and he’s hospitalized. Waking up, he finds himself in a dead world, with people trying to chase and eat him. The story takes off from there, with the comic and show taking slightly different paths. They follow a generally similar storyline, but the characters can vary, as do the means by which characters get to the different key moments in the story. For example, there’s a character in the beginning of the series named Dale. In the show, Dale seems like an elderly mentor, stubbornly clinging to the morality and sense of humanity of the old world. In the comics, Dale is a rugged survivalist that holds no naivety (almost a preview for what Rick Grimes will eventually become). Also, in the comic books there is no character named Daryl. He only appears in the show.
There’s an entire post-apocalypse genre to books and movies, but TWD takes the genre to a more intimate level than has been seen before. You connect with characters so well, and so readily, that if any of them are killed off it leaves the reader/viewer shaken to the bone! This game mirrors all of that, and is a great testament to its storytelling and character enrichment.
Michonne, a silent and stoic black samurai, is the main character of the game though only a supporting character in both the book and the show (and my second favorite character in both). She is introduced in both the book and show as a slightly mentally-imbalanced, wandering survivor. She has discovered a way to walk around undetected by walkers (a.k.a. zombies) which involves leashing two of the walkers after cutting off their arms and bottom jaw. How she discovered this I haven’t a clue, but she’s discovers the group living inside a prison. The group doesn’t want her walkers to come in with her, so she shrugs nonchalantly, then decapitates the walkers. Michonne then strolls right into the prison, immediately surrenders her weapons, and willingly lets the group lock her up.
While the group talks over what to do with her, Michonne can sometimes be caught talking to herself. Eventually, the reader/viewer discovers she lost her two little girls during the initial days of the apocalypse, and is possibly starting to or already has lost her mind. Michonne recovers, though, and quickly becomes a vital member of the group.
The Video Game
Without at least that basic knowledge of TWD universe this game wouldn’t be very fulfilling at all, because the player would have no connection to Michonne outside of this game. The game still has amazing action scenes, and witty dialogue, but I’ve always felt a roleplaying game has to connect with the player’s identity somehow for them to have a stake in the gaming experience. The connection could even be some abstract idea of being generic (or indistinguishable), as is the case with the critically acclaimed adventure game Journey by Thatgamecompany (yes, that is the game company’s actual name). With TWD: Michonne, I’d feel that the game tried to establish a connection with me when acting under Michonne’s identity, but there just wasn’t enough time between episodes to get there.
If I hadn’t known Michonne from the book or show, I’d find the action sequences intense, and the dialogue natural, but wouldn’t care about Michonne as a character. With my knowledge of Michonne, however, I think the game is awesome. I’ve seen Michonne as she was before the group, and during the group. I watched her as her creators meant her to be. She wears a tough, thick, outer shell, but is still protecting the broken and devastated human underneath. Knowing all of this, and being able to have a hand in something from her past, was a gaming experience I’ll revisit again and again – especially since the story can change depending on what you do.
You start the game with Michonne in a hallucination (and revisit the hallucination at various parts of the game), snapping in and out of reality. In the very first action scene you catch a glimpse of how badass Michonne can be as she kills walkers while dehydrated and exhausted, and slipping in and out-of the mind trip. Then, after the action, you come across your very first weighted decision, and it’s a big one. I’ve already spoiled a ton of things in this review, so I’ll leave this experience fresh for you. Trust me, it’s a tough one, especially if you like to push the envelope with your roleplaying.
Again, I’d recommend it to all TWD fans, but wouldn’t recommend it for those not interested in the series. Telltale Games did a great job getting the player to connect with Michonne as a character, and keeping the player on their toes while navigating the walker wasteland.
Feel differently?? Let me know in the comment section below!