Every once in a while, something comes along that hits you with such force that you remember it long after the pain subsides and the black and blue bruises begin to heal. This, be it something in the media, an unbelievable meal or even someone who you can't take your mind off once you get but a small glimpse, is a game changer. It is that which all that come after it are judged by and all before are viewed by with a much harsher eye. Once and a while has struck again, and this time it was courtesy of Telltale Games.
This studio, known best for creating point-and-click adventure games in the universes of such beloved franchises as Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, has crafted a game so superb and unique that we, at The Gamer's Advocate, had no choice but to award it with our most elusive of honors, Game of the Year. Yes, over such AAA games as Halo 4 and Mass Effect 3, a downloadable, episodic game has won.
This is a game that knows its identity, one that doesn't shy away from the story it wants to tell because of the fear of not being "politically correct". It stays true to The Walking Dead universe in the fact that no one is safe and that this isn't a happy tale with a happy ending. However, it does have its quiet, touching and even funny moments, especially between Lee and the young girl he is protecting, Clementine. This growing relationship truly plays on your heartstrings and you will be hard pressed not to begin to feel for her as the story progresses. You will want to keep her safe, as well as mostly everyone else you encounter, but this is not the case, each and everyone knowing full well that no knight in shining armor is riding in to save the day. The story that is told is dark and gruesome and only gets more so as time goes on, mostly due to that pesky undead problem.
This is where the heart of the story is.
In Telltale's version of this franchise, you live and breath by the decisions of Lee Everett. When you are watching or reading the Walking Dead, you see through a lens into the world and are along for the ride. In this game, you get to be the conductor. You choose who lives and dies, you choose between lose-lose situations in a way that you yourself may act were this happening to you. You get to feel the weight of your consequences as the choices you make in episode 1 come back to haunt you in episode 5.
Oh, Episode 3...
This is what makes it so great, they make you feel a part of this world and don't let you off easy. I know some people may knock it by saying some of the choices you make are superfluous and lead you right back to the same ending and that there are some technical hiccups here and there, but that is so besides the point and overshadowed by how truly remarkable this game is.
This tale is fearless, relentless and truly stays with you long after the credits roll and that's what makes it special. It is something new and fresh and is something the video game industry truly needed. All I can do is take my hat off to these fine folks at Telltale and let them know that they crafted something truly incredible. I know I speak for us all when I say I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next.
Congratulations, you deserve it.
Adam Bankhurst is one of the co-hosts of The Gamer's Advocate. Send him all your thoughts or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him @adambankhurst