Few video game sagas of the past decade have been more widely publicized than Telltale's The Walking Dead. Both in its own story universe and outside of it, five seasons of the point-and-click adaptation experienced the highest highs, like winning 100+ Game of the Year awards in 2012, to the lowest lows, like a studio closure that abruptly axed the final season in half until Robert Kirkman's Skybound appropriately resurrected the series. While many players likely feel some fatigue for the series and the developer as a whole, the biggest fans will find The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series is the best version of the Telltale saga for reasons that go beyond the games themselves.
It's unlikely anyone in the year 2019 has avoided the entire Walking Dead saga from Telltale, what with all the free episodes, Games with Gold offerings, and pre-delisting sales that have gone on over the last seven-plus years. In case you have missed it completely, this five-game edition is the best possible version you could play. The technical issues of past years seem to have disappeared and the three earlier Clementine seasons plus the Michonne spinoff have all been remade in Clem's final season art style which replicates the comics much more closely.
Telltale always had its own unique comic stylings, so the adaptation fit snugly in 2012 — but it wasn't quite in the same style as Charlie Adlard's original drawings. The Final Season was much closer, albeit still adding color, and now the entire series carries the same grittier aesthetic that gives the world more personality.
The Definitive Series would need to do more than repaint these games which have already been doled out in a half-dozen ways to merit its release. Fortunately, it does just that. Full-length audio commentaries are now available for four pivotal episodes like the series premiere, the season three finale, and the series finale, providing genuine insights that fans will love. Hearing the voice cast and production crew wax nostalgic for the good times and tread through the worse times comes off as authentic, enlightening, and valuable for anyone who has cared about this somber series for so long.
A 12-minute mini-documentary also chronicles the dramatic rise, fall, and rebirth of the series and its Still Not Bitten team of 40 ex-Telltalers that were brought back to finish what they started. A longer version of this would've been welcome, but taken as peripheral content to the main attraction audio commentary tracks, it's a fun if fleeting look inside how Skybound answered the call when disaster struck the ever-troubled California-based studio.
Other fan services come packaged too, like an extensive art gallery complete with concept art and character model viewers. While it's common for games to throw those into their main menus, the music player that comes included is an especially nice touch. Jared Emerson-Johnson scored the entire series with brilliance. It's sad, uplifting, intense, and cathartic at different times depending on each scene, but it's been annoyingly hard to find online outside of YouTube for over seven years now. This release doesn't get the music on Spotify just yet, but as background to the multitude of art galleries available, it's a long-overdue inclusion.
These are all the things The Definitive Series does new, which leaves only the games themselves to (likely) revisit. The short of it is that they still hold up, some episodes much better than others. Now that you can binge all 22 two-hour episodes of the series like an old favorite on Netflix, diehards from the past decade or rare newcomers alike will find it's worth investing more time into. Anyone who has been chasing the achievement list stacks for years is probably feeling rightfully burned out and may approach yet another series playthrough with the enthusiasm of a vegan at a steakhouse, but there are the super fans that will gladly play these again — I'm speaking as one right now.
Speaking of the achievement list, this one whittles down all five seasons into just a base 1,000 gamerscore. Not as lucrative as the 4,000 G Walking Dead Collection, The Definitive Series is still the better overall package for anyone playing as a fan. Unlike that boost-happy package from last year, this one does include the last season, and with the addition of all its bonus features, nothing from the series has ever offered more fan service. If you're still in it for the achievements, the 1,000 G is split among every episode in the series. The simple math of one episode equals one achievement means, as was almost always the case with this series, you can't miss anything no matter how you play, so long as you get to the credits each time.
Check out our Best Xbox Adventure Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
SummaryThe Walking Dead The Telltale Definitive Series may be viewed as yet another re-release of the defunct studio's late-era flaghship series, but the biggest fans should give it more consideration than that. With a ton of insightful and truly entertaining bonus features like audio commentary tracks, a mini-documentary, and an overhauled visual style, this feels more like a Blu-ray boxset of your favorite TV series than a collection of five video games. But wasn't that always the appeal of Telltale and its version of The Walking Dead? You would play it with friends and family, agonize over choices, wait on the cliff's edge for the next act. You no longer have to wait for new episodes and you may not stress over your decisions if you now know what lies ahead, but for anyone who's managed to miss the series til now, and for its biggest fans, The Definitive Series is unquestionably the best version of the seven-year The Walking Dead saga.
The reviewer collected eight achievements across various seasons as he jumped around to revisit some famous scenes or infamously stuttering ones. A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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