An interview between Siliconera and Telltale games’ CEO Dan Connors gives us some insights into Telltale’s upcoming The Walking Dead adaptation. As combat has never been Telltale’s forte, this more story-based take on zombie survival might come as a breath of fresh air to some players — though others, having played Jurassic Park and Back to the Future, may prefer the stagnant reek of decay that comes from more classic zombie shooters.
In any case, the premise sounds interesting. Connors says that, “we think the rules of the world are really what makes it interesting for people. We wanted to take some liberties in storytelling and kind of create a new story that provides more backstory into what’s going on with the show and with the comics.”
The story will follow a criminal named Lee, whose motivation (besides not wanting to be eaten, which is pretty legit) is to find redemption in this world gone awry. When asked about Lee’s personality, Connor says, “Well, on some element, he is a reflection of the player’s choices. Because you’re in a moment, you can pick three or four different things to say, but they all have different paths. You’re not just working your way through a dialogue tree, you’re choosing how you present yourself to the characters in the world.”
Dialogue choices are only part of the deal, as in many episodes Lee will be forced to make decisions which will end in the death of a character. Just who dies, and under which circumstances, will determine how other characters interact with Lee; whether they will trust him, abandon him, or possibly attack him is left in the player’s hands. As survival in such a situation is largely dependent upon the cohesion of a group, a player will have to manage their team carefully.
Still, shifting the emphasis from action to storytelling doesn’t mean you won’t have to take out a zombie or three along the way. “In some cases, they’re going to be people who you know who’ve ‘turned,'” Connor explains. “We’ve really made it about a real visceral kind of attack feeling. In the first episode, I think you have an axe. You have a hammer. You have something like an ice pick. In most cases you’re either using stealth or reacting and swinging and using an action to kill zombies.”
Stealth elements will function sort of like puzzles, in that a player will be best served by carefully formulating a plan of attack and sticking to it. Zombies will be attracted to sound, so distraction will play a key role in safely navigating heavily infested areas. This context-specific type of zombie encounter sounds like it could be quite interesting, if executed properly.
Regarding continuity between the comic, the AMC series, and the game, Connor says, “We’ve really invested a lot of effort into fleshing out the back stories of the characters. If it was something they’d [either the comic or the show] want to plug back in, we would be obviously ecstatic about that. Robert [Kirkman] is doing the comic on one hand, the show has its own screenwriters on the other, and Robert sits in with that. Ultimately, he makes the decisions on that kind of thing.”
We’ll see how it all turns out when The Walking Dead drops on PC, PSN, and XBLA. Check out the full interview at Siliconera.