I think before today, my favorite game had remained either GTA: San Andreas or Saints Row 2. And with my extreme love for open world games, you'd think the next logical "favorite game" would be another open world title. Perhaps GTAV? But no...
It's a freaking point and click game. And a pretty minimalist one at that. However...
It's my favorite game not because of the gameplay (f***ing hardly), it's because of the story.
The storytelling is absolutely amazing with me so involved. I legitimately feel like so much is on my shoulders, rather than only under the assumption because the developers told me that was the case. Every decision was hard and even when I knew the "right" thing to do I would always question it afterwards. And while in games like Mass Effect (another game I have a strong, emotional connection to) where I either love or just like a comrade and we're usually working together, here it's different.
There's always conflict within the group. Someone's respect for you or your respect for them is always at risk. More than any other game I've played, you're asked to put you and your friends' lives on the line and it's honestly nerve-racking during a couple scenarios. I'm sure those that have played the game up to the end of episode 2 know what I'm talking about. And already about 20 minutes into episode 3 it's tough as s*** and more dramatic than before. Deep stuff.
Everytime a heated argument is over, I'm relieved and I hope I don't have to deal with it again soon.
The best part is... none of it feels forced at all. It all feels tightly wound and sincere. The acting, the scenarios, responses, everything. It all adds up to making everything feel even more meaningful.
I mean I can honestly say I've made some friends in this game. People I'm glad that have grown a liking to me. People I'm glad respect me. Especially Clementine, who I've officially dubbed my adorably poofy-haired v-daughter. Just like the protagonist, I went into the game without Clementine, and really... basically nothing. I have only just realized how ingenious it was to make Lee pretty much a clean slate, but with a backstory. If that makes any sense. Yeah, that backstory's there and it does get brought up (especially at the point I'm at), but you sort of adopt it as your own. It's a tricky thing to explain at least without spoiling anything.
I found Clementine. I wasn't just told that this is my daughter and that I must protect her. No. I found her and I've made it my job to make sure she gets out of this rotten mess.
But I don't believe every game is perfect. As I've mentioned, the game has it's problems in the gameplay department especially. Choppy walking controls, audio bugs and just overall occasional immersion-breaking moments can be found and even the spectacular story does have a couple predictable parts. And I swear the end of episode 2 was totally wonked out until it just finally decided to work for me. I guess it had realized I was trying to progress.
Even still, the game remains probably my favorite game at the moment. I'm currently in the middle of episode 3 and I honestly can't imagine what will happen by the end of the series. And I wish I could ask myself these questions I have, here, in text, more explicitly without fear of spoiling. It's a game I can really nerd out with.
More and more, games are becoming something I don't just play to play... but to truly get engaged with. To really experience. More and more, games are making me feel things. Geniune fear, sadness, anxiety, shock, etc.
Along with Mass Effect 1/2/3, Max Payne 3, Flower and Journey, The Walking Dead Episodes 1, 2 and 3 are probably the only games to ever bring out some real f***ing emotions in me. When a character dies, I'm destroyed. Not just bummed out, f***ing destroyed. Or I'm somewhere in the middle... because I didn't quite like the character at all. But I'm still shocked to see him/her go because they've felt a lot like actual people.
These episodes are minimalist all the while still boasting some obvious errors, but they still remain fantasic overall.
Anyone into story-centric titles should try these out immediately.