The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Skybound Games
Release Date: Sept. 10, 2019


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PC Review - 'The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 16, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series bundles the entire series as a physical collection, with over 50 hours of content across 23 distinct episodes with brand-new enhancements, updates, and improvements.

Buy The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series

The absence of Telltale Games means that fans won't get to see some of those works live on. The knowledge that a sequel was in the works still stings for fans of A Wolf Among Us. The recent release of Borderlands 3 will remind fans of the potential realized in Tales from the Borderlands, and Batman fans were starting to warm up to the company's alternate take on the caped crusader's early years. One group of fans saw a resolution when Skybound picked up the rights for The Walking Dead game and took on the development, with some of the original team members. As a last hurrah, the team packaged everything together into The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series.

For the uninitiated, the games may be billed as point-and-click adventures, but they're a blend of the adventure and visual novel genres. You'll need to get pieces from the environment and match them up with another piece to create something useful or unlock something to progress the story. There are a few instances where combat is involved, but they're all handled with Quick Time Events. Most of the time, you simply go along with the story while trying to decide on the next course of action or piece of dialogue. Some choices let you take all the time you need, while others force you to decide quickly, with the added pressure of your choices affecting your relationship with those around you and greatly altering significant chunks of the story.

There are some that criticize the style for not providing players with total control of the tale, and this is made more apparent with every game packaged together like this. Namely, each of the connected titles goes for a specific scenario that you may not have reached on your own playthrough, ruining the illusion of choices altogether. With that said, the story is still well told, mostly due to the characters who are just as compelling — if not more so —as the ones in the TV show's early seasons. Clementine is the linchpin, as seeing her grow and evolve is the driving force behind the title. Most of the characters are good on their own, but a few people are dull enough that their scenes are a chore. This is true of the 400 Days episode, which felt like filler and most of the third season, A New Frontier, whose main family was more annoying than intriguing.

Instead of taking the original code for the six titles and combining them into one menu, there has been some extra work done. On the presentation front, every game has gotten what the developers call the "Graphic Black" treatment. This is essentially the application of the more faithful graphic novel style seen in the final season, and it's now present on all of the previous seasons as well as the Michonne and 400 Days side stories. It keeps everything looking uniform, which means that newcomers will look at this as a remaster of sorts, but veterans will lament the lack of a toggle option to see the differences between the original and new versions.

The other thing that longtime players will notice is that the game is much cleaner on the performance front. Animation transitions are less jarring than before, and the lip-synching looks more accurate. The frame rate holds steady more often, with only a handful of brief dips here and there, and scene transitions are also graceful. Compared to the rare crashes of before and lack of polish seen on some of the older games, this change is very welcome for those who do want to check out the game again.

The changes mentioned earlier are nice, especially the option to access any of the chapters in each season from the get-go, but the real meat of the package is in its extras. Art galleries are there for every game, but it goes beyond sketches and concept art, since you can now take any of the 3D character models and pose them in a variety of ways. A music player gives you the chance to hear all 130 tracks from the series in their entirety. There's a mini-documentary that chronicles the history of the development team, and while it only lasts 12 minutes, it feels so jam-packed with information. Finally, a few of the more pivotal episodes in the game come with commentary tracks that include voice actors, directors and writers.

These are the sorts of things you don't really see anymore. In fact, you could point to about two console generations ago, when extras were a normal part of the game. It's just one more thing that games did to mimic the extras seen on many DVDs during the era. The inclusion of all of this stuff seems quaint because of the sense of attachment that people have to the series. The abrupt dismantling of Telltale remains a stunning thing to hear of even today, and it's refreshing to see extras that delve into the hardships of how the series was made.

For newcomers, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series is an easy purchase, since you're getting every game in the series at an excellent discount. If you've experienced the game before, the proposition of going back is dependent on whether you want to experience the game again with better graphics and fewer bugs. If you're a super fan, the abundance of extras will be tempting enough to warrant the double-dip. No matter your stance, the collection still holds up, and this is a lasting example of what made Telltale stand out in the first place.

Score: 8.5/10

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