Review: The Walking Dead – The Definitive Series
It has been nearly a year since Telltale Games tragically closed down and a small skeleton crew resumed working on The Final Season under Skybound Games. Now that Clem’s journey is complete, the entire series of The Walking Dead has been released one last time. It’s a final goodbye to one of the most iconic stories told in a video game.
After I start up the first season and find myself as Lee Everett in a police car again – making some small talk about whether or not I actually murdered my wife’s lover – two things immediately become clear. First, this story sticks with you, no matter what. Seven years after the game was originally released, and simultaneously labelled Game of the Year, Telltale’s The Walking Dead still manages to tell a gripping story. Those first scenes of Lee in the police car, which kicked off the entire series, feel enchantingly nostalgic. And second, the newly enhanced graphics make this 2012 title visually pleasing again.
From the very first frames of the first season, it becomes clear that the game’s graphics have been enhanced. A reasonable amount of details has been added to character models, props – the interior of the police car transporting Lee is more realistic – and surroundings. Another update the series has been given comes in the form of a “Graphic Black” filter, which tries to match the game’s general look to The Final Season‘s. This filter heavily transforms each season of The Walking Dead. While the iconic Telltale graphic style still remains, Graphic Black now makes players feel like they are stepping right into a comic book. It is just beautiful. Fans of the series will be happy to find out that they can apply the filter to A New Frontier – The Walking Dead’s third season, with Javier as the playable character – as well. What A New Frontier is mostly criticised for ever since its initial release in 2016, is its visuals. All characters looked excessively oily, or greasy, which felt like a departure from Season One and Season Two’s graphics. That’s no longer the case now. Of course, Graphic Black does entirely change the game’s atmosphere, so it might not be to everyone’s liking. Players who prefer not using the filter have the option to disable it.
In terms of gameplay, The Definitive Series does not really have anything innovative to offer. But that’s not a bad thing. You might have heard of this little saying that goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, which could not have more perfectly applied in this case. Clem’s journey, all the way from her treehouse where she met Lee to an abandoned boarding school accompanied by AJ, is just as compelling as before. The original season of The Walking Dead remains one of the best story-telling games that saw the light of day. Its second season is slightly more fast-paced, and introduces AJ – who becomes increasingly important as Clem’s story progresses – and reintroduces several familiar faces. The third season – A New Frontier – leaves Clem on the bench and places Javi, a professional baseball player, in the spotlight. Although this season is arguably the least engrossing, Javi is still a worthy replacement for Clementine. Gameplay is flawed though, as players are in control of Javi’s choices, and choosing something that would benefit Clementine rather than Javi’s family is too tempting. The Final Season, which we had the pleasure of reviewing earlier this year, is a beautiful conclusion to the story. Finally, 400 Days and Michonne, the mini series following Michonne’s adventures, are entertaining additions. The Definitive Series is a lifechanger: all seasons are finally gathered in one place, which makes it easier to import your choices to following seasons. One final thing that definitely charmed me was that each season still had its classic menu. In a way, it felt like coming home.
The Definitive Series also contains a lot of extra features, that will undoubtedly entertain both newcomers to the game as well as hardcore fans. Players can listen to nearly ten hours of developer commentary and watch a short documentary covering the ‘Return of The Walking Dead’. Even die-hard The Walking Dead fans will be surprised by some of the anecdotes that are shared. An elaborate art gallery also gives players the opportunity to browse through concept art and sketches from all seasons, and the music player finally brings together all soundtracks and scores. Last, but certainly not least, is a 3D model viewer. In this character viewer, all major and minor characters are presented. Each character has their own unique animations and voice lines, some of which are truly bizarre. One of the most memorable animations, that made me chuckle, is AJ riding Rosie while shooting his pistol. Truly bizarre.
The Definitive Series combines all seasons into one glorious collection and improves the very few things that needed improving, such as graphics. The Graphic Black filter is a beautiful addition that transforms the game into a comic-esque world, and even manages to ameliorate the third season’s oily characters. There are plenty of extras that will make fans appreciate Telltale’s work even more.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Skybound Games
Publisher: Skybound Games