MEGATech Reviews: The Walking Dead Michonne (Episode 1: In Too Deep)
  • Great cel-shaded artwork
  • Familiar Walking Dead character
  • Useful distraction until season 3
  • Shallow character development
  • Limited free exploration
  • Relatively short at about 80 minutes
6Overall Score

Point. Click. Slash. Survive. From the comic books to the hit show on AMC, we’ve been pulled deep into the world of The Walking Dead. We’ve surrounded ourselves by walkers and we’ve made many difficult decisions involving the living. For those of us who have invested ourselves so heavily into the point-and-click game by Telltale Games, we’ve been anxious to find out what happens next to Clementine. But we’re not getting there yet. Instead, we’re going somewhere else entirely with Michonne.

Dubbed “A Telltale Miniseries,” The Walking Dead: Michonne consists of three episodes in total, the first of which is being called “In Too Deep.” The exact timeline of these episodes is a little unclear, but it’s obvious enough that we’re going to be focusing on the fan-favorite, machete-wielding Michonne. Good idea, right?

I’m On a Boat

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The Michonne side story starts out with a rather jarring intermingling of the past and the present, showing our protagonist both inside a home on the dawn of the zombie apocalypse and out in a lightly forested area where she must fend off the undead. After the title sequence, we find ourselves on a boat for some inexplicable reason. Those of you who have been keeping up with the comic books may see a connection here, but I’ll leave the spoilers out for anyone who has only been watching the TV show.

This is immediately very different from how we were re-introduced to this world through the first season of The Walking Dead video game. We made connections with our characters, ever so strategically and poignantly, as Clem and Lee endeavored to survive. “In Too Deep” instead surrounds Michonne immediately by her ship-mates. I guess we’re supposed to care for these other people, but we’re never really given a reason why.

Stylized Graphic Violence

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Veterans of any game produced by Telltale will understand the basic mechanics of this episode of The Walking Dead. In the PC version reviewed here, you walk around with WASD in the parts where you are allowed to explore, you mash on Q or E when prompted, and you point and click with your mouse to interact with that which can be interacted. That’s also how you choose your responses during conversations.

They’re hardly reinventing the wheel here and this “game” is more like an interactive animated movie than anything. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is how some of these choices are displayed, particularly when it comes to slashing away at the undead. The letters appear larger, it seems, and there are sequences where you may need to press several keys one after the other.

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And whereas the level of gruesome gore in Lee and Clementine’s story was slowly introduced and very slowly escalated, the zombie fights ramp up to 11 right away in Michonne’s journey. You’re decapitating several undead and mashing their heads into open flames almost right away.

Ripping Out the Heart Strings?

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Over the course of the first season of The Walking Dead video game, we become emotionally invested in the characters of Lee and Clementine. We genuinely care about these characters and the (spoiler alert!) really sad final act brought a tear to many a gamer’s eye. The tugging at the heart strings was lessened in the second season, but we still had that powerful emotional connection to Clem.

We don’t get that here, even though we’re already familiar with Michonne from the comic book and the TV series. The story telling simply is not as strong as what we get in the primary narrative — this is being marketed as a Telltale “miniseries” — and the supporting cast just isn’t as compelling. We get thrown into situations where we must make a decision that affects the fate of these new characters, but we simply don’t care about them. We have no reason to care about them.

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The end result is a story and a cast that feels flat and lifeless, without the depth that we desire when we’re only clicking along for the ride. The developers tried to introduce more emotional weight here and they tried to deliver a more visceral experience, but it’s not really there. It’s shallow and unsatisfying.

MEGATechie Michonne Mayhem or MEGATechie Just Shoot Me Now?

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We get the very real sense that Michonne’s side story is simply cashing in on the popular franchise. We can’t really blame them for trying. But whereas we forged such a vested interest in Clementine in the main series, whereas we got pulled into the politics of Westeros in the Game of Thrones game, whereas we even started to care about the characters we only knew so briefly in the 400 Days special episode, we’re just going through the motions here for about 80 minutes worth of gameplay.

And that’s sadly disappointing. To be fair, this is only the first episode in a three-episode mini-series and maybe we will come to form a stronger opinion about her companion Pete and this girl named Samantha. Maybe we will start to understand the true motivations of Norma and Randall. But for now, we’re not in too deep. We’re not in nearly deep enough.

The first episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne by Telltale Games is available for purchase now on a variety of platforms for about $5. The full season pass for all three episodes rings in at around $15.

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