The Walking Dead: Michonne once again sees the folks at Telltale Games return to the franchise that made them famous. This time round players assume the role of the titular machete-wielding zombie slayer in a three-part mini series, which is supposedly set between issues 126 and 139 of Robert Kirkman’s comic. I wouldn’t know, as I ceased buying the graphic novels many moons ago. Despite being a quality read, the depressing tragedies that constantly befall Rick Grimes’ posse became too much for me to bear. I already see enough examples of horrible things happening to nice people by watching the daily news thank you.
Michonne’s downloadable adventure begins with a flashback sequence that explains how our suicidal protagonist joined the crew of a seafarer named Pete. In a world infested with carnivorous un-dead, who are unable to swim due to their rotting musculature, the ocean happens to be the only safe place left on this planet. Unfortunately for Michonne and Pete, when their barge suffers damage the pair are forced to travel onshore in search of replacement parts. As you may expect from a story set within the Walking Dead universe, the resultant scavenger hunt does not go well. After a run in with some sibling thieves our heroes are captured by the residents of an everglade town named Monroe. Escaping from the marshland fortress will require that players use diplomacy on their human captors and QTE dexterity to battle the area’s horde of hungry cadavers.
Like other entries in the series, this interactive movie is brought to life through the use of expressive cell shaded graphics. PS4 owners will be pleased to know that their version of the game is blessed with high definition visuals and a smooth frame rate, even if you are paying a premium for the experience. The iOS edition in comparison is more reasonably priced, although you may want to give it a miss. After skimming a spate of negative iTunes reviews, which lambast the jittery animation found on tablet devices, I feel vindicated in paying extra for the console port. On the audio front Samira Wiley showcases a strong vocal range in her portrayal of the lead character. Not only does Wiley pull off a convincing badass who is unflappable in the face of danger, but she also performs well in the scenes that reveal how emotionally fragile Michonne is when dealing with the subject of her departed children.
My rating for The Walking Dead: Michonne is four stars. The video game industry is often criticized for its lack of racial diversity, so it is good to see that Telltale has once again released a quality title featuring a non-Caucasian lead. From the various Walking Dead games that I have played, I would have to rank Michonne as my second favourite. Every episode succeeded in capturing my attention from start to finish, which was not the case in The Walking Dead: Season Two. Said sequel was strong in parts, but suffered from pacing issues that could have been avoided had its plot not been stretched out over five instalments. The Walking Dead: Michonne’s concise storytelling is however both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. Three hours of entertainment for eleven quid isn’t great value, although I suppose the asking price is fair if you compare it to a movie DVD.
Whether you agree or disagree with my assessment of The Walking Dead: Michonne will ultimately boil down to your gaming tastes. Although it didn’t bother me, I imagine that some players may take umbrage with how combat is resolved through quick time events. Thankfully the button prompt sequences in question are easy enough to clear and at the very least they keep your trigger finger occupied during what would otherwise be a cut scene moment. I also expect that some gamers will bemoan how the choices made during Michonne’s journey only impact the narrative superficially. Yes that’s true, but doesn’t the same apply to most video games? David Cage’s high budget creations are no more interactive and let us not forget about Mass Effect 3’s finale. The way Bioware ignored a trilogy worth of decisions depresses me far more than a Rob Kirkman zombie apocalypse strip.