In a move that left Telltale Games going “Um, Hello?”, Activision announced last week that studio Terminal Reality is working on a first-person shooter based on The Walking Dead. With a story line drawn from the television show, the game looks to be a survival-based shooter that allows for multiple gameplay options, such as choosing stealth or engaging enemies.
The most interesting part of this story, however, happened before the game’s annoucnement was even made. Back in March, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman sounded off on how he thinks a first-person shooter based on his zombie apocalypse franchise “would be pointless”:
“You can play Left 4 Dead. You can play Dead Rising. You can play Resident Evil… those are all great games and I do that, and I think other people should do that. But to do a Walking Dead game that’s just that would be pointless. I think that you would always be compared to that, and you’d either be better or you’d be worse. But you’d be the same kind of game, and that’s no fun.”
Kirkman then went on to talk about how the franchise’s story is much more centered around the human interaction of the apocalypse, not the zombie killing fest that so many other titles have become over the years. It’s about the evolution of the characters within the game, and he feels that Telltale has done a great job with this.
Now, on the surface, I can’t help but think of this as such a “me too” move for Activision. I mean, is anyone truly clamoring for a FPS based on the Walking Dead TV show, let alone a game based on Daryl and Merle?
Now, I know that they’ve said this will be a game based on survival, with limited supplies and requring a bit more strategy than the average shoot-em-up. While I love games that take this survival-based approach, they’re missing the mark of what makes The Walking Dead such a compelling and different story in an overcrowded genre: the story.
The Walking Dead is all about the story and characters within it. It’s not about getting an achievement for slaughtering an untold amount of zombies a la Dead Rising or sneaking your way across a plain Adam Jensen-style. It’s about the survivors in this hellish imagining of the world and how they interact with each other and deal with themselves. It’s about the way they change and challenge their very interpretation of humanity when faced with a decision between life and death. It’s the living in The Walking Dead that make it so damn compelling, and that’s just not something that can be easily captured in a shooter based on survival.
That’s why Telltale Games has crafted such a beautiful game experience in The Walking Dead adventure series; the story behind those games is so strong that it practically becomes gameplay as you make decision after gut-wrenching decision that effects the lives of all the characters around you. It has become a unique and bold experience that would be completely lost if you had the option to brandish a weapon and start slicing zombies up like cheap meat.
Just leave this one to Telltale, Activision. They’ve got this.
(FPS announcement trailer)