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Monday, December 31, 2012

XBLA impressions: Walking Dead episode 1 and Fez

I've been playing a few nights away at two Xbox Live games I picked up.  I've been seeing quite a buzz over the past few posts from my favorite gaming sites about these 2012 releases in various end-of-the-year roundups.  Granted, these aren't exactly new releases but I just want to spread the word to anyone who perhaps was sitting in my boat being aware of these games but not really taking any actions to play them.  I saw Walking Dead was released and didn't exactly move toward the whole point and click adventure aspect and kind of assumed it was based more on the television series rather than the comic series which I love.  I kicked Fez around a bit when the demo dropped a few months back and I just didn't have the time to really give it a fair day in court.  Speaking of comic series that I loved which spawned live action versions I wasn't crazy about, Fez's cover art was drawn by Bryan Lee O'Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame.

GamesRadar gave both of these games number 1 stats for two categories...Fez for best downloadable game and Walking Dead as best game of the year!  Quite remarkable that sleeper hits received such notoriety. 
Something about this game just captured that fresh, brand-new, out of the box feeling you got from Green Hill Zone 1 in Sonic the Hedgehog, Level 1-1 in Mario and the first Dungeon in Legend of Zelda.

After playing Fez a few nights, I really was turned on to the whole feel and aspect of the world.  It is so brightly colored, well designed and interesting to explore.  It really served as a game you could visit and revisit while consistently being rewarded and convinced that you truly were unlocking new corners and dimensions with every passing screen.  There are no enemies to vanquish, no permadeaths, ...just using your wits to play around with the environment to get you from point A to point Z and everywhere in between.  Musically, it is a variety of chiptunes and 8-bit ambiance which sets an ethereal mood as you traverse the NES inspired landscapes while the seagulls chirp and the worms crawl and the frogs hop.   Unlocking the very beginning plays with the very essence of the games that shaped our views of taste in gaming and breaks our expectations and the fourth wall rather quickly as our hero, Gomez is bestowed with the Fez and actually resets the game back to the title screen and we begin anew in the new pseudo-3D world.  You get a great variety of challenging platforming, innovative level design and a real sense of care placed into every building, background and element in the game...Give it some definite consideration.  I couldn't help consistently going back to thinking of Cave Story as I played though.

Onto Telltale Games, The Walking Dead.  Wow, what an absolute surprise.  I let this game go right past me when it was originally released but this week for a New Years promotion, the first episodic chapter of this game was on XLBA for free.  It was too good of a deal to pass up.  I dunno, earlier in the year,  I tried to get into the Sam and Max reboots from this publisher but I just couldn't get back into the LucasArts point and click inspired gaming but after this experience so far I am really gonna have to look into giving those reboot demos a shot.  I gotta admit I loved those games when they originally came out...Sam and Max, Maniac Mansion, Full Throttle, Monkey Island...great, innovative and original writing and gameplay.  This game brought up all of those positive memories and then brought it up to an 11 with intensity, brutality and a lasting feeling that no prior game ever left with me. 

My strategy thus far...keep the people who are good shots alive.

Yep, Clementine saw you do that....

I have only played about 2 hours into a 3 hour game for this first chapter and man was this some heavy gameplay.  Every line of dialogue means so much more to the flow of the story, the interaction of the characters and the bonds you forge between potential friends and foes than you ever would think.  You are cast in the role of protector of the young girl named Clementine who you meet early on in the game and the first time I admitted something harsh to her and that "Clementine will remember you said that" message came up, I instantly was like "Ohhhh shit."  The severity and the Constancy of every move you make really leaves a sense of importance and gravity that no other game with a morality gauge or dialogue tree ever remotely captured.   The art direction follows the look and feel of Tony Moore's style in the comic series and it really unfolds as an incredibly atmospheric  and believable setting.  Gameplay mainly consists of momentary quick time events but you really have to be fast in decisions and quick reflexes before you or party becomes quickly bitten or ripped apart.  All of this is molded behind some of the best written storytelling and expert pacing you'll ever see.  You owe it to yourself to check this great game out.  I can freely say I am hooked and will definitely be checking out the Sam and Max and the Monkey Island demos if they are anything like this game.

1 comment:

  1. I picked up all of the walking dead episodes last week when they were on sale. I'm looking forward to playing through them. Heard from a few x box buddies that they are awesome as well.


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