The Usual, But Shorter – The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 1 Review (PC/Xbox One/PS4)
When does too much of a good thing become an issue? That was the initial concern when Telltale Games revealed The Walking Dead: Michonne. In truth, this is more of what we’ve seen in The Walking Dead seasons 1 and 2. At this point, it’s all a bit too familiar.
Michonne being the main focus of a Walking Dead mini series should come as no surprise. She’s the embodiment of everything people adore about steely silent heroes. Telltale dives into Michonne as a character, fleshing her out and forwarding her as the driving force. It’s not that the concept is bad, but the content and overuse of certain themes takes its toll on the overall experience.
The core game is essentially the same. Sections of dialogue laced with player choices and the odd bit of point and clicking thrown in. Episode 1 is arguably the most basic version of this set up. Most of story is propelled with dialogue options and actions quick time events, action sections are much more common than ever before. This is perhaps the weakest part of the game.
Known for her abilities with a blade, Michonne is given a host of opportunists to slice and dice numerous Walkers. These sections consist purely of quick time events rapidly tapped in the order displayed on screen. Initially entertaining, they soon become over the top to the point of ridiculousness. It’s hard to buy into that distinct Walking Dead tone when the action on screen is so outlandish and flamboyant.
Thankfully the plot provides a platform for Michonne to become more than just a ‘cool’ hero. Suffering from the consequences of past decisions, Michonne finds herself lost and on the brink of breaking. It’s at this point the supporting cast is introduced, with only one of them present throughout the whole episode. The episode adheres to the standard Walking Dead plot set up, a supply trip turns sour and Humans are bigger bastards than the ‘Walkers’ will ever be.
If you’ve played, read or watched anything Walking Dead related, then you’ve already experienced the heart of this plot. Pacing is generally good, keeping the story moving smoothly allowing it to remain engaging. Relationships between characters feel slightly rushed, mainly down to the structure and length of the episode.
New characters are introduced towards the later half the episode, but never given much depth or development. This guy is evil, this women is controlling, it’s all a bit clumsy. The worst example of this is a gay couple whose sexuality is literally how they are introduced. Inclusiveness is encouraged, but this feels utterly shoe horned in.
One aspect of The Walking Dead: Michonne that cannot be looked passed is how rough the game’s engine is. Animations are rigid and robotic, visual glitches flicker and dance on the screen. At times , the game can look messy, with rough textures mixing into harsh uses of green and brown shades. Past Telltale games can still get away with the engine, Tales from the Borderlands for example, but the Walking Dead is starting to struggle.
As a first episode, Deep Water suggests the mini series has potential to be solid, but nothing more. It’s essentially more of the same that the franchise is known for. The length of the episode produces some questions over whether this mini series should even be episodic at all. Deep Water’s ending feels rather abrupt, further highlighting the lack of impact the characters and their relationships have. If more Walking Dead is what the heart desires, Michonne provides that in spades. Just don’t expect Episode 1: Deep Water to provide anything new.