Friday, 26 February 2016

The Walking Dead Michonne: Episode 1 - 'In Too Deep' Review

Zombies are swarming in left, right and centre. Reality and a nightmarish vision of the past blur into one as Michonne struggles to establish what is real and what is her past memories coming back, once again, to haunt her. She's hit rock bottom, and one of the first choices in the game shows this. Michonne grabs a gun, readies it, and moves it to her head. Do you pull the trigger, or is there something worth fighting for afterall?

This is what Episode 1 of The Walking Dead: Michonne explores. Where does a woman who has lost everything discover her fight again? Right after this explosive five minute opener (complete with some incredibly fluid quick-time zombie-slaying), Michonne is rescued by Pete, a fellow survivor who is taking shelter in a boat with his fellow crew-mates. Things start to pick up when the team pick up a radio signal from a distressed sounding girl. Stationed on a nearby marooned ferry, Michonne and Pete decide to take a trip over by row-boat. As customary with The Walking Dead, things aren't that easy. The duo are attacked shortly after departing by walkers. It seems that like everything else, the sea is not safe either. They escape, leaving their boat to join the walkers wading at the bottom of the water.

"Michonne executes the dead so fluidly, making for excellent, thrilling action sequences."

Reaching the ferry, they realise things are just about to get even worse, after being ambushed by a mixture of walkers and humans. Like the previous The Walking Dead games by Telltale, the human's pose a much more sinister threat than the dead themselves. An expert at her katana, Michonne executes the dead so fluidly, making for excellent, thrilling action sequences. 

A strong start for this mini-series, Telltale has improved on their graphics whilst retaining their signature comic-book style, has improved on the gameplay - both in terms of responding to dialogue and in the action sequences, and the story is gripping. Like many of their games, Michonne isn't an exception when it comes to stellar voice-acting. Orange Is The New Black's actress Samira Wiley takes the helm as Michonne, who offers a stellar performance.

Set during Michonne's absence between issues #126 and #139 of the comics, Telltale has stated that you do not need any prior knowledge of The Walking Dead comics or TV show, nor do you have to have played their Season 1, Season 2 or 400 Days to get to understand this mini-series. Whilst fans will indeed enjoy fleshing out one of the most popular, bad-ass characters in The Walking Dead series, new players will be able to view this as an introduction.

"Zombies aren't the main problem here. That is reserved for Michonne's inner demons and the survivors she encounters."
In Too Deep offers several narrative arcs, allowing players to craft Michonne into a cold and guarded individual, to a more optimistic, hopeful woman. She is faced with some tough decisions, which can alter not only episode 1, but for subsequent episodes too. The dialogue is on top form here once again, proving that Telltale Games really are masters of the interactive storytale genre. There were plenty of tense moments, especially in the latter half, although not as emotionally impacting as those seen in The Walking Dead Season 1 or 2. However, episode 1 ends abruptly, leaving us with the impression that episode 2 will be the tension-packed episode we want it to be.

It is interesting to be able to explore one of the most popular protoganists in The Walking Dead world more personally. The Walking Dead often explores the failures of humanity in a world that has, quite literally, gone to hell, and this Michonne mini-series has already proven with episode 1 that this is what Telltale Games will conveying once more. Forever haunted by her past (we get some rather creepy flashbacks throughout), Michonne must pick up the pieces and build herself back up. Zombies aren't the main problem here. That is reserved for Michonne's inner demons and the survivors she encounters. This is where the mini-series will be the most interesting. Telltale has already proven to be a dab-hand at redemption stories (Lee in The Walking Dead Season 1, and the evolution of Clementine from a frightened, niave little girl to a hardy young lady, for instance), and perhaps Michonne's chapters will be another to successfully crack this.

Filled with a mixture of thrilling action sequences and clever dialogue, In Too Deep delivers an excellent introduction into the mini-series. Let's hope that episode 2 does the same.

The Walking Dead: Michonne is available now for PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4. 

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