Despite A Slow Start And Short Length, TWD: Michonne’s First Episode Finishes Strong
Following one the the comics most beloved characters, The Walking Dead: Michonne is a standalone mini-series, not requiring one to play through the main entries into the series and only clocking in at three episodes. However, just because it’s not a main entry doesn’t mean it should be held in less regard than the original seasons: All indications show that this series, despite a somewhat shaky start, will be able to stand with the rest of them.
Story (No Spoilers, Don’t Worry)
Starting with the titular character Michonne walking through the woods, the player has their tutorial level while she fights off several walkers in the midst of what appears to be a PTSD triggered hallucination. From scene one, it’s clear that Michonne is a troubled woman tortured by her past, for reasons I won’t say outright to avoid spoilers. After the encounter your first choice is presented to you, and in typical Walking Dead fashion, it’s very, very dark. After this tutorial scene however, things slow down dramatically. It’s shown that three weeks later she’s a member of a group of traders that sail up and down the coast. After the tutorial, there’s only one or two occasions where there’s any actual fighting, but that’s not to say it’s boring; barring the first 10-15 minutes after the tutorial, there’s almost constant tension and things actually start to happen in the last 2/3rds of the episode. Looking forward to Episodes Two and Three, I’m optimistic that things will pick up even further. After all, first episodes in any series, TV or video game, are often foundations for the rest of the series.
Another thing worth noting is the character development. Aside from Michonne and another member of your group, I really had a tough time getting to care for some of the other characters. While I felt that Michonne’s character development was especially well done with occasional glances into her past, I just couldn’t help but not take secondary characters seriously. Keeping in mind that character arcs are meant to be viewed over a whole season and not just one episode, some of the members of your group still just seemed cliche. A glaring example of this is one of the fellow crew members on the ship, who comes over and essentially says “I’ve seen a lot of dark sh*t”, one of the most cliche lines of all time. That being said, it did succeed at making a moral gray area, forcing me to question who the good guy was, or if there even was a good guy other than yourself. (You’ll know what I mean when you play it.) In the last 15 minutes specifically, you really have no idea if you’re making the right choices, something that I’ve loved about these Telltale series.
When comparing it to other Telltale Series, the visual side of things is much of the same. I didn’t expect it to be a massive improvement over it’s predecessors at Telltale, so I really can’t and won’t hold it against TWD: Michonne. Telltale’s Walking Dead series has always had that comic book-esque look to it, and this is no different. However, the gameplay is much smoother with far fewer dialogue glitches when making choices than, say, Telltale’s Game of Thrones series. Other than that, there’s not much else to comment on as far as gameplay; It’s a Telltale Games release, superb gameplay isn’t what you sign up for, what you’re looking for is an excellent and captivating story.
Despite a slow start and slow character development with secondary characters, The Walking Dead: Michonne has a lot of promise looking ahead. If the momentum gained in the last half of this episode keeps rolling into Episodes Two and Three, I have no doubt that this series will be regarded as highly as it’s two predecessors.