Telltale Games had some quiet hits back in the day when they were making PC adventure games like Sam & Max, but it wasn’t until they made an episodic series based on The Walking Dead, that they truly found their golden goose, so to speak. The Walking Dead: Season One was an amazing adventure game that put intense choices in your hands as you navigated the world of the comic books with a brand new cast of (in my opinion) better characters.
It won game of the year awards and propelled Telltale Games into the limelight. After a solid second season, Telltale brought us a miniseries focused on Michonne’s character. Did they strike true, like Michonne with her blades, or is it time for them to move on? Time to find out!
Three Episodes Packed With Intense Storytelling
I think my favorite thing about this “miniseries” is the fact that Telltale cut their normal five episode season down to three episodes. This resulted in faster output and ultimately a more tightly knit tale. In the second season of their Walking Dead series, I felt like there were plenty of moments that drew themselves out where the pacing was lost.
Michonne’s miniseries doesn’t have this problem. Not a second of game time is wasted. Yes, there are calm moments of conversation, but they quickly give way to bombastic and gory action sequences that run as smooth as ever.
The story of this miniseries takes place during a gap in the comics where Michonne was separated from Rick’s group. In the comics, we never find out where she was during this time, so the game found a perfect spot to nestle in and tell a short, but poignant story.
For those who don’t read the comics or watch the show, you can still jump in and play this miniseries with relative ease. All you need to know is that the zombie apocalypse has happened and you’re playing as Michonne, a badass woman with an affinity for bladed weapons. She’s best known for her katana in the show, but most of your time with this miniseries has her using a shorter machete.
Part of what makes Michonne’s character so interesting is her backstory. Since this is set in the comic book universe, she has two daughters. The chaotic events of the world’s end caused her to become separated from her kids and it’s something that haunts her to this day.
During the game, there are countless flashbacks that occur where we slowly get to see what happened on the day that everything fell apart. These flashbacks are seamless integrated into the game, often with jarring and jump scare tactics that have Michonne’s reality shift back and forth without warning.
I’ll be honest, this is the first time a Telltale game struck me as actual horror. Yes, their other Walking Dead games have a very thick atmosphere (and this one is no different) but Michonne’s fractured reality and her constant mental torture makes for some extremely intense and sudden jump scares that transition into a flashback that reveals more of her story.
The story happening in the present is an interesting, if unoriginal tale that we’ve come to expect from the universe of The Walking Dead. The story involves the classic themes of searching for supplies, getting involved with the wrong people, and the inevitable loss and conflict that results from the hostile nature of this world’s survivors.
A common theme is that the people who survived are worse than the dead, and that’s present through Michonne’s miniseries. Not to fear, though, there are plenty of fights with zombies that involve Michonne getting up close and personal for some gruesome kills.
Overall it’s a well-paced and tight story with some great characters and plenty of emotional moments, most of which hit the target. My only real gripes are twofold: for starters, it all seemed to end too quickly. If Telltale could have kept up this pace with a full 5-episode series, this could have easily been another hit like their first season.
The other problem I have, is the illusion of choice, and this is something that every Telltale Game suffers from, to an extent. When you start the game’s episodes, it informs you that your decisions will affect the story and shape it.
While that’s a nice thought, your decisions only change a few different things in a significant way. Yes, there are several major changes you can influence, but for the most part your choices will alter dialogue or character interactions, and that’s about it.
There’s only one ending, regardless of what you do. I know that making a game’s story truly malleable is extremely difficult, but I feel like Telltale has kind of fell into a routine with their storytelling. It’s high-quality stuff, but they seem to deliver less and less on the promise of your decisions truly affecting the story’s outcome.
Overall, Michonne’s tale is one that any fan of Telltale’s games or fans of the comic/show should experience. It’s all a matter of whether or not the gameplay is right for you.
The Classic Telltale Formula, Polished to a Mirror Sheen
Telltale games have followed a pretty standard gameplay formula since the beginning of their Walking Dead: Season One days. You will explore various environments, interact with objects, solve very (very) light puzzles, and interact with the game through dialogue and contact-sensitive cutscenes.
What this boils down to is looking around during the quiet moments, answering how you will during dialogue choices, and then pressing the right button or moving the stick in the right direction when it prompts you during cutscenes.
While some people may cry foul at this style of gameplay, it’s still intense, and the results are more satisfying than ever. Part of this is due to Michonne’s close combat preference, but a lot of the improvements come from Telltale’s engine finally coming into its own on the PS4.
During the late days of the PS3, Telltale’s games would stutter and freeze, which made timely button inputs all but impossible. It killed the immersion and it resulted in a lot of cheap game over screens. Since debuting on the PS4, Telltale’s games have slowly, but surely, improved immensely on this front.
Michonne’s three episode series runs like a dream. If you’re a fan of this adventure game style and you want more character and story from your Walking Dead, this is the place to find it.
The Final Verdict: Should You Purchase the Series?
All three episodes of The Walking Dead: Michonne, are out and ready to be played. For a low entry price of $15, this is a great series if you’re a fan of Telltale’s style or adventure games in general. A full season three of Walking Dead is supposed to come out, with this series being the teaser/bridge to the new season.
I had a lot of fun with Michonne’s story and I felt like this was one of the best uses for her character. She remains an decidedly badass woman, but this miniseries gave her some heart and a unique perspective into her tortured soul.
A little more control over the story, and a few more episodes wouldn’t have hurt, but what we’ve got here is another great use of The Walking Dead universe. I recommend you check it out!
Final Score: 8.5/10
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date - 5/5/16