All blood. No guts.
Lee and Clementine hooked me. I was invested, and by the end of the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead, I had experienced laughter and sadness, highs and lows, charm and grit. That game hit me on an emotional level. I was invested in not only the central characters but the entire supporting cast, too. I even tried to save Duck! Since season one of The Walking Dead games, I've been a big fan of everything Telltale has done. With the latest release of The Walking Dead: Michonne, I can't say that the quality of writing holds up as well as its predecessors.
One thing is for sure, the titular hero is the most badass character in any game from Telltale.
From the start, Michonne shows us that she is someone you don't want to mess with. But perhaps even more impressive is the way the developers painted her with her own set of psychological and emotional trauma in the very opening scene, without having her utter a single line of dialogue. Compared to other games, the intro to Michonne is one of the best in the studio's entire catalog.
Telltale games have a knack for impressive storytelling, but I can't really tell you what Michonne's first episode is about, not because I want to avoid spoilers, but because the story itself is lacking in depth, especially from its abundant supporting cast and lackluster plot.
The episode introduces an entire cast of characters on a boat but they don't do much outside of the opening 10 minutes of the game. Even, Norma and Randall, the obvious baddies in the episode, are shallow in their motivations. They do terrible things just for the sake of it, it seems. They say good practice for writing a well-rounded villain is to make them the hero of their own story. In some ways, Norma may be a morally gray character, and maybe we'll see more sides to her in the next two episodes, but as it stands now, there's not much to latch onto.
On the other hand, characters like Samantha and her brother Greg are interesting because players aren't exactly sure if they are being truthful about their actions. I was often wondering whether to trust Samantha, or try my best to ignore her.
If there is one redeeming quality for Michonne, it's the action. I know, it's a Telltale title, and that usually means a lot of walking and talking, but the sheer amount of quick-time events in this didn't bother me much at all. As Clementine, I often felt a sense of danger whenever a walker popped out of the shadows. But when a zombie growled at me as Michonne, I was excited since I knew this character can physically handle herself. It's refreshing to play as a physically and mentally capable character in a Telltale series, especially one set in The Walking Dead universe. I only wish that they added more of a mechanic to her sword-strikes. The game only hints at this once. When fending off a group of walkers, players have to press three buttons in sequence to execute a devastating attack on the undead. It would have been great if there were more of these multi-button executions to spice up the fights. Oh, it could have been so cool. But I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself.
This is a Telltale game and they have never been heavy on mechanics, so a ton of simple quick-time events can be forgiven considering they were fun to watch and they generally kept me on my toes. But writing is the studio's bread and butter, and overall, it's lacking in these with the exception of the title character herself. Hopefully episode two and three of The Walking Dead: Michonne is a bit sharper on these fronts.