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It’s all about hugs: Why Telltale’s Walking Dead is so much better than Terminal Reality’s

Hershel - Walking DeadSo it seems the new Walking Dead is terrible. It’s a drab and soulless FPS that misses everything that’s great about the series, and crucially everything that was good in Telltales Walking Dead game.

With that in mind, I started to wonder what was so great about Telltales storytelling. What made it so good?

For me, it’s a tiny little moment. In the very first episode, when Hershel’s son returns to the farm he hugs his father. His father doesn’t return the hug at first, and seems a little embarrassed at his sons affection. It feels awkward. It feels real.

This is a tiny moment of detail in storytelling and direction, but it’s something you hardly ever see in games. It’s so subtle most people will miss it, or only take it in subliminally. But it’s intentional, and it’s pitch perfect.

Hershel and Shawn Walking DeadWhy did Telltale include this awkward moment? Well it’s because Hershel doesn’t appreciate the danger yet. He thinks everything will be ok, and he doesn’t respect his sons opinions. This is shown in the events that follow and the way he speaks about his son (“Well at least he’s good for something”), but it’s also shown in this tiny little character moment. This is foreshadowing, and it’s something that games do very, very poorly. The seeds of the story are planted early, and hints are spread throughout the opening moments of what will come to follow.

This storytelling technique’s used throughout the series. In the very next episode, the theme of hunger is a storytelling device, but it’s also a visual metaphor that’s spread throughout the opening scenes. Go back and play again with knowledge of what will eventually happen. Do you see all the little hints the developers gave you? Do you see the character arcs when they’re halfway developed, and how you can predict there endings. It’s all there, and it’s all in the details.

Walking Dead: Survivor InstinctWalking Dead is full of tiny little moments like this. It’s why the games storytelling is so far ahead of almost all other narrative based games I’ve played. And it’s also why it’s worth going back to play the whole thing again.

So the new Walking Dead is terrible. Don’t worry though. Telltales Walking Dead is so good that you’ll actually enjoy it more each time you play it.

And it was all conveyed with a hug. What other little moments make Telltales game a masterpiece. Why not go back and find out?

Published inFeatures