Michonne has always been a fan favorite character in The Walking Dead franchise, so when it was announced there would a The Walking Dead Michonne game it was big news. In Telltale Games, The Walking Dead season 1 and 2, players were presented with a great emotional journey full of painstaking decisions and heartbreaking results. In Robert Kirkman’s comics (which is the canon that Telltale Games follows), there are only glimpses of Michonne’s past. Despite Michonne being one of the more interesting characters in The Walking Dead, this is one of the least interesting Telltale stories.
The opening scene of The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 1 shows Michonne ready to commit suicide before being saved by a man named Pete, who becomes her new companion. This sets the tone for what will be a brutal and nihilistic journey. Michonne is repeatedly haunted by her two younger sisters, whom she apparently had to leave behind. The backstory is told in brief fragments and remains unclear by the end of this first episode. A majority of the game takes place on Pete’s boat, which holds a small crew who are struggling with some internal conflict. This is quite an interesting setting for a Walking Dead story to take place. Later they encounter a pirate-like camp which provides the central conflict for Michonne and her new companions.
Using traditional Telltale Games formula, Michonne makes decisions via a dialogue tree which has significant weight. As demonstrated opening scene, Michonne is constantly battling with whether or not life is worth living in this state. Her decisions reflect this mindset though this first episode does not really deliver any satisfying answers. Story-wise there isn’t much here outside of typical Walking Dead archetypes and tropes. Not enough is revealed about Michonne or her past to merit any real weight to her decisions.
Since this is only the first part of a 3-episode arc, it can be assumed that there will be more backstory in the subsequent instalments The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 2 and 3. This doesn’t change the fact that as a standalone experience, it is not very satisfying. None of the new characters are as interesting as previous Telltale Walking Dead games though that could change in future episodes. Episode 1 of The Walking Dead Michonne game seems to hinge on the fact that it is just a “setup episode” for the rest of the series, which hurts it from a storytelling standpoint.
While some of the story and dialogue feel lackluster, the action is at its best for a Telltale game. Michonne is known for her brutal machete techniques and there is no shortage of violent melee combat here. The QTE (Quick Time Events) button prompts are much faster than previous Telltale Games instalments, making each stab and slash more satisfying. At times, there are three button prompts on the screen, which should be pressed quickly in order to unleash devastating attacks. This is the first step towards more complicated combat for Telltale and it feels great.
Unfortunately, Telltale’s game engine still feels as clunky and laggy as in their previous efforts. Often times there will be a small delay from one scene to the next, which feels like the game trying to catch up with itself. This has always been a problem for Telltale which they need to address with an updated engine.
The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 1 shows a lot of promise in its action sequences, but delivers a somewhat lackluster story. It is far too reliant on Michonne herself, whom we already know is a great complex character. As a result, the primary reason that this story is engaging is because of her already-established character. The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 1 succeeds only in being an opening episode and does not deliver a worthy story for such an acclaimed series. Whether or not Telltale can develop Michonne’s standalone story into something deserved of a miniseries will be determined in the next two episodes.
- Good opening sequence
- Fantastic action and combat
- Undeveloped narrative
- Lackluster characters
- Poor game engine