The Walking Dead: Episode 1 – A New Day Review

Zombies aren't all over the place, but when they show up, it means something.

It’s a difficult task adapting a popular property into a positive gaming experience that meets fan and critic expectations. The Walking Dead: Episode 1, though, is a respectful, enjoyable addition to the chaotic, zombie-apocalypse world of the graphic novel and TV series. The atmosphere, themes, and brutality that make the comic such a big success are all there, recreated faithfully in videogame form.

The first episode, titled A New Day, introduces Lee, a convict set free by the zombie outbreak via car crash, and Clementine, a young girl surviving on her own after the infection claimed her babysitter. Lee becomes Clementine’s surrogate father and the two attempt to survive the living hell that the world has become.

Zombie encounters will involve QTEs.

It doesn’t take long for the game to show just why it bears The Walking Dead name. The art style makes the game look like the comic book come to life, in color. The addition of music conveys a further sense of despair that overcomes these characters. The psychological and emotional themes found throughout the source material are present in this game adaptation, manifest primarily in the element of choice throughout play.

If ever gamers wanted to know what it would be like to exist in The Walking Dead universe, forced to make the tough decisions that characters like Rick Grimes must make in the comics, this is where to find out. What do I do when zombies are descending upon two survivors and there’s only time to save one of them? Who do I side with when a heated argument erupts between members of my group, and quick action is needed? How do I want others to perceive me? These quandaries permeate the experience, with tension amplified by a timer, and though the player’s decisions may not make their full impact by the end of the episode, it seems that they will in the coming chapters.

Choice is the driving element of The Walking Dead: Episode 1, but the majority of the game is spent exploring its set pieces in traditional point-and-click fashion. Examining objects of interest, picking up items that can be of assistance later, and chatting with other survivors make up most of a player’s experience. It makes sense given that The Walking Dead has always been less about killing zombies and more about its characters, something the game’s strong voice acting and dialogue help to exemplify.

This by-chance relationship becomes the strong focal point of the game.

As in the source material, dispatching zombies is brutal. The majority of these moments will play out via quick-time events, forcing the player to mash buttons to free himself from a walker’s grip and hastily locate a target. Since silence is key when taking down walkers, and sometimes one’s weapon options are limited, melee implements like ice picks, hammers, and axes provide incredibly gory sequences. Some notable kills are especially barbaric, heart-wrenching, and traumatizing. This is an element that the graphic novel prides itself on; the game upholds that standard.

It’s a relief to say that The Walking Dead: Episode 1 is a superb addition to the universe created by Robert Kirkman. Everything that has made the graphic novel great is bundled into this short (2-3 hours), but incredibly absorbing adaptation. Fans will find themselves sucked in and begging for more when they reach the end. It’ll be exciting to see how Lee, Clementine, and their group try to make it through the dangers of zombie apocalyptia in future episodes.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

One Comment on "The Walking Dead: Episode 1 – A New Day Review"

  1. Ciara April 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm -


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