Overkill's The Walking Dead game finally has a release date with a brutal final trailer during E3 2018. The four-person co-op survival shooter was heavily inspired by Robert Kirkman’s original graphic novels, which of course later became a hit television series. During the huge gaming event, we were able to not only sit down and play the game with the developers themselves, but we also spoke to some of the team one on one to learn more about the upcoming game. One thing that was abundantly clear: they're a bunch of nerds, and it's pretty awesome!
No, really, the amount of times the developers called themselves nerds during our interview was pretty fantastic, and it was very clear that they approached this game similarly to that of their previous hit with Payday 2. "Content as it's demanded" and never by a deadline, their philosophy towards gaming is definitely one that adapts to players themselves because these are the games they want to be playing. I even casually mentioned during the interview that I'd love controller support, which hadn't previously been a part of the plan, and Saul Gascon, the game's producer, immediately notated it and mentioned they would add it in immediately because "that's the feedback we need." It's pretty great, and that passion was definitely reflected in the game itself despite its simplicity.
One thing that is exciting however for The Walking Dead comic fans is that this isn't a thrown together game to piggy back off of the show's success, and it's not meant to replace any of the narratives in the running series. Instead, the story is set within the timeline but open for interpretation. Speaking with the team themselves, they mentioned that they worked very closely with the comics' creator to make sure they created a completely authentic experience that stayed true to the source material without stepping on toes.
When the creative team first took to development, they experimented with the weapon system. They mentioned that pretty much everyone involved were "huge nerds" when it comes to the comics, and they wanted that reflected in the survival aspects. Because this is a universe where resources are scarce and the environment is anything but pretty - that was very much an inspiration behind making weapons extremely scarce while also highlighting an importance on crafting.
Also a common theme from the comics was that noise attracts the walkers, and that is very much intune with how the combat mechanics are set up. When I was playing, I found myself alternating between my melee machete and a gun with a silencer frequently as to not draw unwanted attention. But just like in the comics and the show, things happen and you're forced to adapt. When entering a house with hordes of walkers, my silencer broke making my ranged weapon once more a noisy nuisance. From there, I had to craft my own makeshift supplies while cutting through massive groups of beings trying to kill me. The pressure was definitely on, and that's a pressure that is a consistent theme in the series itself.
Just like the comics, walkers aren't your only enemy. Players will encounter other humans that will do whatever they can to protect their supplies, even if that means taking out other humans. Though my demo was more of crafting and having to invent ways to get out of a sticky situation and less of the actual storyline, Gascon also assured me that the storyline progression would appeal to comic fans on a "very deep level" because they wanted to put the player into that universe. It's not a game based on the show, it's a game inspired by the organic material - and yes, that's absolutely different. Unfortunately, I couldn't get anything out of him as to any fan favourite appearances ... crossing my fingers for next time!
Overall, the demo was fun. The gaming market is currently oversaturated with the "zombie niche" so I'll admit to having very low expectations when I went in. I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had and that was in large part to the different aspects that went into a successful play run, as well as the awesome communications my team had between our crew here at ComicBook and some of the team members over at Don't Feed the Gamers. The developer we played with even said he had a blast as we alternated which roles we fit into. Who knew I was a medic style!? That's not my usual MO in these types of games, but it fit perfectly. It was fun, definitely an experience meant to be played with friends but when in a solid group - this game is absolutely delightful in the bloodiest way possible.
Just ... don't let that silencer break, otherwise keep that machete on hand!