TellTale Games has been on a roll ever since it released its first take on The Walking Dead, the most popular show on television. Telltale’s take on the Fables comics was met with critical acclaim, and the developer’s adaptations of Gearbox’s Borderlands, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and Mojang’s Minecraft have kept the company coffers full. Yet despite these other popular properties, Telltale seems to have a habit of returning to its original cash cow. The Michonne mini-series is the adventure game maker’s third stab at Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse.
Speaking of Robert Kirkman, it’s important to note that Telltale’s The Walking Dead is actually an adaptation of the comic books, not of the television show. Of course nothing happens in a vacuum. While Michonne has always been a popular character in both the comics and the TV show, the uptick in her screen time due to her Season Six romance makes it an ideal time to release a game series based on her. Fans who have watched only the TV show now have an opportunity to learn the comic book character’s backstory too.
Telltale itself doesn’t exactly refer to these titles as video games, and if you’re looking for non-stop, frenetic action, they aren’t the games for you. The Walking Dead: Michonne, like all its games, is more of an interactive story. The vast majority of the game is spent making dialogue choices. There are occasional small exploration sequences, but all of the real action is executed with quick time events that require timed button presses that correspond with what’s onscreen. Though a lot of time can be spent just watching the game, it’s typically not a good idea to actually set the controller down.
Like most of the Telltale games, The Walking Dead: Michonne is presented in comic book style, with a cel-shaded look. Because the game is based on the comic book, the titular character isn’t voiced by her onscreen actor, Danai Gurira. Instead, Telltale’s Michonne is voiced excellently by Orange is the New Black’s Samira Wiley. Dialogue in Telltale games has a very distinct cadence, a deliberate speech pacing that alters the way the actors deliver their lines. Most fans of the television show probably won’t notice the different voice. That’s unfortunate, because Wiley does do a really great job of bringing Michonne to life.
Unfortunately, the voice work is handicapped by a mostly uninspired narrative. This is only the first of three episodes, but the story swings and misses pretty often in this debut. It starts with what should be an emotional scene, but one that’s delivered much too early to really be impactful. After that, there is a string of character introductions, so many that the episode’s ending will likely leave most players apathetic, probably not what they were looking for. The problem is that there is really too little time spent with most of the characters to develop any sort of attachment.
The Walking Dead: Michonne mini-series, for better or worse, is more of the same from Telltale.
If you like these interactive stories, and you’re a Walking Dead fan, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try this one out. These games aren’t technical wonders, and lately haven’t been storytelling masterpieces, but they are interesting, and can offer a nice change of pace from more action-oriented video games. Michonne does at least deserve an “A” for effort, but the existing Telltale formula puts true video game excellence just out of reach.
The Walking Dead: Michonne is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language This game can also be found on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.