2012's year of gaming is coming to a close and that means Neoseeker is deep in deliberation over its "Game of the Year" award. In the months of December and early January each of Neoseeker's 10 nominees for Game of the Year will be profiled. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade us which game deserves such an honorable award.
I'm proud to kick off Neoseeker's end of the year awards with our first "Game of the Year" nominee, The Walking Dead. A point and click adventure game that will likely have profound affects on the industry due to its combination of unorthodox gameplay, and modern and mature storytelling. Who would have thought Telltale Games' follow-up to the critically disappointing Jurassic Park: The Game and Law & Order: Legacies would become the most endearing and compelling narrative experience of the year.
The Walking Dead puts you in the shoes of the soon-to-be incarcerated Lee Everett. In fact, it's on his way to county lock-up that the zombie apocalypse takes grip and leaves Lee handcuffed in the back of an overturned police car, surrounded by the recently resurrected undead. It gets worse from there, which might be why the game only gets better from there.
Why The Walking Dead is great:
- Clementine and Lee - This pair and their budding father-daughter relationship will tug at any jaded gamer's heartstrings. By the end of five episodes, we've been through so much with the both Lee and Clem that it's difficult not to empathize with each of them and the difficulties they encounter. Wonderfully written and brilliantly realized in-game, these are two of the best characters, in a game or other media, of 2012.
- Episodic content - The importance of The Walking Dead's monthly episode schedule often goes unrecognized, but it's the resulting segmented structure of the game that allows it to continuously keep the tension high. Played in one sitting, much of the dread and tension that lingers after each episode is lost, which is why The Walking Dead's uniquely remarkable episodic releases so great of a storytelling experience. This may be the first time people say, "Yeah, I love that episodic content."
- Choices - Never before has a game made the simple act of choosing a line of dialogue feel so foreboding final. Chill dude, we're just deciding who washes the dishes. Oh no, there was a zombie head in the dishes, now everyone is dead. Okay, it never gets that ridiculous, but yeah, that's basically what it's like with every single dialogue choice.
- Season 2 - It's not like the zombie apocalypse is going to end and The Walking Dead will be over. Perhaps the best part of the end of Season 1 was the knowledge there will be a Season 2. I don't know if my heart can take it, though. Here's another perk of the episodic nature of The Walking Dead, too, as Season 2 is probably being planned for some time next year.
There are some of the big reasons why The Walking Dead is Neoseeker's first nominee for 2012's Game of the Year. An episodic adventure game based on a graphic novel, and a story-driven title that has unremarkable gameplay. Who would have thought?