The Walking Dead Michonne Episode One begins strong, and just gets more intense from there. While based on The Walking Dead comics and not the AMC television show, Michonne is still very true to the same blade-wielding bad ass fans have come to know from both series. Although quick-time-events can prove frustrating, and your limited choices stressful, the overall execution of this mini-series is consistent with the kind of deep story telling we’ve come to expect from Telltale Games.
If you’ve never read the comics or watched the show, that’s okay; The Walking Dead Michonne is a self-contained story that needs no introduction.
Visuals – 4.5/5
The introduction to The Walking Dead Michonne Episode One is stellar – mixing animated comic art with silhouettes, Telltale Games successfully conveys the grittiness of this piece. Each scene is expertly laid out like a film set; the lighting, color and environments setting the mood according to the current action. Although you are able to control Michonne and explore each area, moving from one level design to the next changes the emotional tone from relaxed to claustrophobic in an instant.
Animation is similar to what you’d usually find in a Telltale game; smooth, shaded objects and people with hand-drawn, ink-like outlines and details throughout. This effect is a comic book come to life. While I was impressed by the subtleties of character facial expressions, there were times where the quality of animation would briefly fall short – for example, when a character’s hands would lack collision with an environmental object. (The fingers would move right through it.)
I very much enjoyed the opening and closing credit sequences, and the sense of living art this game creates throughout.
Sound/Music – 4.5/5
The music for In Too Deep is a mixture of original music by Jared Emerson-Johnson and licensed songs, all fantastic. I know I’m not alone when I immediately searched for the closing credits song, Wolf by First Aid Kit! Ambient sounds are appropriate and not obstructive to game play or dialogue.
Voice acting performances are all stellar, led by Samira Wiley of Orange is the New Black. I never once felt that someone was just filling in for a role or that any lines were read half-heartedly; each voice drives the story forward and dialogue is well-written. The only complaint I have is that characters continue to speak during your very limited time to choose a response. This results in interrupting that person, and I always wondered what they were going to say. Hopefully it wasn’t an important piece of story information!
Gameplay – 3.5/5
I love that although I’ve never read the Walking Dead comics, In Too Deep doesn’t rely on prerequisite knowledge. In fact, you can just pick it up and learn all you need to know along the way, without it being spoon-fed to you through on-the-nose dialogue or gratuitous flashbacks.
The zombie genre is not so much about the living dead, but how the living survivors react – and it’s usually bad news. In Too Deep is no exception, and I found each decision harder than the last. As with all Telltale Games, each decision will directly affect your gameplay moving forward through the next episodes. You can go back and try different choices later, if you want, and see how things might have turned out differently.
Michonne is plagued by visions of two little girls who are presumably dead, and your very first choice is whether or not to attempt suicide. We really get a hard look at how lonely and bitter Michonne has become in this post-apocalyptic world. She goes through the motions of killing walkers, but I couldn’t help but empathize with her internal battle to keep it together and the temptation to give up completely. As someone who has wrestled with depression in real life, I found myself intrigued by the well-written story and struggle to find good in the world, but I can’t honestly say I had a lot of fun. This story is inherently a sad one, so I walked away feeling a bit depressed and ultimately stressed out.
Controls – 3.5/5
I should preface this by saying that I really don’t like quick-time-events. Having to frantically hit the right button at the right time or DIE not only pulls me out of the gameplay and story, but stresses me out to no end. I don’t play a lot of games on PC, either, so this made learning how to use the controls a tad difficult at first. There is no tutorial, necessarily, but it does start out a little slow so you don’t have a complete heart attack before learning a few moves.
For those who aren’t great at quick-time-events, you may want to try this game on an Android tablet or iPad, where you can just tap or swipe instead. If you don’t mind QTE, however, and you play a lot of PC games, you may not have problems with the controls, as I did.
Value – 5/5
For $14.99 US, you get all three episodes of The Walking Dead Michonne; that comes out to about $5 per episode, and it took me roughly two hours for the first playthrough of In Too Deep. For the amount of game time and replay value, I’d say this is a fair price.
Replay Value – 5/5
Considering the fact that this is a game where your choices determine the outcome, replay value for all three episodes is extremely high.
Overall – 4/5
The Walking Dead Michonne: Episode One is just as suspenseful, action-packed and downright stressful as the TV show. The art of Telltale Games is that there often isn’t a “right” answer, so you are left second-guessing your decisions. In Too Deep will make you think, and that’s a good thing, no matter how stressful that can be at times. I couldn’t tell you how it compares to the comics, but visually it appears to be consistent. The music and art really impressed me and I will definitely play again for a different ending!
The Walking Dead: Michonne is out NOW for Mac, PC, XBox 360, XBox One, PS3 and PS4. Mobile users can download the title for iOS and Android. For more information, head on over to the official website! Have you tried In Too Deep? If so, what did you think?
Update 2/28/16 10:45pm – corrected price of Season Pass from $4.99 to $14.99 (typo).