After two critically acclaimed The Walking Dead video game series, Telltale Games have decided to spin-off into a miniseries focussed on a familiar face from the comics and, in fact, The Walking Dead hit television show. For the purpose of the story being told here, it’s the comic book version of lethal katana wielding Michonne. Just how much drama and emotion can be brought out of a character who more often than not keeps her cards close to her chest? Could this three-part series be a bridge too far for Telltale to garner a tale from? We’ll begin to find out in Episode One: In Too Deep.
Instead of re-telling a story from Robert Kirkman’s comic books, Telltale Games are aiming to fill in the blanks for Michonne’s absences between comics #126 and #139. In this interactive adventure, we join Michonne on a ship named ‘The Companion’, where she is joined by a guy named Pete and his own crew of shipmates. Whilst trying to listen out on the radio for missing friends, a distress signal is heard and thus comes the issue of figuring out the genuinely needy from the devious people out to take all that they can.
Due to her taking up the focal role in this miniseries, I feel that there’s more emphasis on the layers of Michonne’s character than the rest. Previous traumatic experiences are having a real affect on her current mental status and there are moments where this episode explores the loss she’s had to endure; it really made me feel sad for this usually steely woman – one that puts up walls frequently to hide those fragile memories.
Although it is only a fleeting introduction to the majority of the crew – for the time being – there are just enough traits conveyed to get a gauge on their personalities. Unfortunately with these Walking Dead interactive games, moral dilemmas are lurking around every corner during the zombie apocalypse. So, given the short amount of time that they’ve packed lots of new characters into, actually getting me to care about helping them is a task in which I’m not entirely sure Telltale has succeeded at. Not yet anyway. I practically sold out a teenager at the first time of asking, although on reflection it did make me hate those who could be perceived as villains.
It wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t a selection a Quick Time Events to get stuck into and having a katana means heads are going to fly. These scenes are action packed with an emphasis on trying to make the interaction as seamless as possible, where the buttons needed to be pressed are placed neatly enough to be seen but not distracting from the set piece. Telltale Games will be kicking themselves though because the old issues have arisen once again, with screen stuttering and button input lag at the most inopportune moments, leading to a death and a checkpoint reload!
Settings can really set the tone for proceedings and throughout Episode One, the eerie nature is well and truly delivered. Whether it’s out in the sea or in a rundown settlement, that impending doom is always lurking and often caused me to jump a few times. Without spoiling too much, a highlight was fighting walkers underwater as I don’t recall ever doing that before.
I’m not sure what to make of ‘In Too Deep’ on the whole due to it doing a handful of things really darn well, creating a rather grim looking world and bone-chilling moments for Michonne to thrive within. As it is the opening episode of the miniseries, getting a handle on and a feel for your potential allies and enemies is important, if only so you can attempt to connect with them. Sadly, that usual luxury of laying down a foundation can’t be afforded as much when there are only two more episodes to come. Most frustratingly though is this ability to cause issues with the QTEs, something which really has to be eradicated from the future episodes.
Michonne is obviously the star of this piece, however I expected more from the characters around her and I had hoped technical issues wouldn’t hold it back either – they are an irritation though. Fingers crossed Episode Two will take it up a notch in overall quality…