Thursday, January 3, 2013

Death is not the end

The punishment for taking time off at work is that the work that you would have done if you were there doesn't get done, it just waits for you to get back, getting meaner. I took one day off to make New Years a five day weekend. One. This is the first time I have stopped working all day. I suppose that, in the grand scheme of things, having a job that offers unfettered internet access renders all of my complaints null and void. But still, my eyes hurt and I am quite accustomed to staring at a screen for long hours. Hell, it is what I would be doing if I wasn't at work.

I don't really want to talk too much about The Walking Dead because I want to give writing review for it an honest try. Four out of five episodes are down, with the fifth being finished up tomorrow night. I have manged to play each individual episode straight through without stopping which I think is for the best. Dividing the episodes up further would hamper what they are trying to do. The longest so far was only two and a half hours from beginning to end, the length of a long movie, and I can't really think of a good place to have stopped. Each episode does a very good job of being self contained, complete with a beginning, middle and end. That is more that most full game have to offer.

There is one change to traditional zombie lore that I would like to highlight. Getting bitten doesn't turn the victim into a zombie, it only hastens the process. In truth everyone is infected. Everyone turns when they die, unless they were killed by severe damage to the head. This adds a huge wrinkle: every settlement, regardless of how well defended it is, is vulnerable. Anyone who dies must be dealt with, and dealt with quickly, or the zombies on the outside become less important than the zombies on the inside.

The Walking Dead is already a depressing game. Knowing that there really is no hope, that no matter what every character is going to end up aiding the enemy, that the best way to serve your fellow man may very well be to shoot yourself in the head, that's some heavy shit right there. That is the stuff of nightmares; not monsters or demons, or even zombies. Hopelessness.

Fighting that hopelessness is why The Walking Dead would not work without Clementine. She keeps the player human by providing something to fight for. At the end of each chapter there is a breakdown of what the player did in specific situations compared to what everyone else did. In every case I have been with the majority, and in most of these cases the majority is well over 60%. On top of everything else The Walking Dead is a social experiment. Given an impossible but relatable situation, most people choose to do the right thing.

There is hope for humanity yet. What a shame that it takes the zombie apocalypse to bring it out.

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