You should play the Walking Dead adventure game this long weekend if you haven't already, and here's just two of many reasons why: an additional episode, 400 Days, has just come out, and Season Two is coming soon, so you probably want to get up to speed now. But whether or not you're into zombies or survival-horror adventure, Walking Dead more than any other game before it proves that it's possible to create emotionally expressive, narrative-rich stories through machinima. Much of the game is told in cutscenes created through animation captured in a 3D engine, and I've never seen digital characters more vividly emotional. I don't just mean expressing sadness or anger, which are easy enough to depict, but more complex emotions like ambivalence or wistfulness. On top of that, the machinima cutscenes convey a lot of the storyline through cinematic camera angles and editing, in ways I've never seen game cutscenes do. The difference in quality between it and games that have come before it is so stark, you almost need to categorize The Walking Dead not among other games, but other episodic stories like the TV show Lost or, well, the TV version of The Walking Dead. It's the first game I've played that has that same level of engagement and resonance. (Not to mention being about as disturbing: Be warned, it's not for the squeamish.)
To see what I mean, here's some gameplay footage after the break:
Yes yes, this game came out last year and I'm way late on the uptake, but I'm catching up quick. Iris wrote about it first, so do read what she wrote about it here.
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