Thursday, August 2, 2012

Exploring the Episodic Nature of 'The Walking Dead'

My latest PopMatters article is now live: Exploring the Episodic Nature of 'The Walking Dead'.

So I wrote about The Walking Dead, again. Frankly, I can't quite stop thinking about this game. I know it is far from perfect. Some of the story decisions, even in the first two episodes repeat themselves. Other times, the decisions are sudden and blunt, their outcomes too obviously telegraphed. For the most part though, these are rare occurrences.

I come back to this game because, like the best RPGs, I genuinely feel invested in these characters and their relationships. In a zombie-infested world, where things can go terribly wrong, the tensions these relationships evoke are even stronger. Lee and Clementine's father-daughter thing going on (they are not actually related), would be compelling in any atmosphere, true. But when the living are more dangerous than the dead, when some guy comes out of nowhere to bash another person's skull in with a giant salt block, I feel as tough these characters are living on a much thinner thread.

I also think I come back to the game because, after playing just two episodes, I have the what-happens-next hook in me. Of course I find the episodic nature of The Walking Dead compelling, I am eagerly awaiting the next episode of the game like those tied to cable subscriptions eagerly wait for the next episode of Vampire Diaries. The game works amazingly well because, not despite, of its episodic nature.

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