I've heard a lot of talk from various sites about how The Walking Dead is changing the face of gaming. Please, you've got to be kidding. Here's where I stand on the subject.
The Walking Dead was the perfect game for me and my busy lifestyle; between school, work, and other obligations I don't always have time to dive deeply in to a long RPG experience, such as your Skyrim's and your Final Fantasy's. A game released episodically that can be consumed in 2-3 hour tidbits was perfect. I'll admit that my knowledge of The Walking Dead franchise prior to the game was limited to the AMC TV series, which isn't much to go on, but I think that allowed me to go in with no expectations and take the game for what it was. And that is, an "adventure game" that was more like an interactive motion comic/TV show. What separates The Walking Dead from previous Telltale Games and even the majority of other games on the market is... the storytelling. As a game, it is sub-par. With some jarring stops and cuts after dialogue selections, a ton of funky textures on characters, and pointless puzzles; you could say it was a bad "game" if even a game at all.
With all that said, it is on of my favorite experiences of 2012. I felt so attached to these characters and their relationships, much like I did when I watched LOST or Naruto (don't judge me until you've watched it) for the first time. The writers of The Walking Dead game have done such a phenomenal job creating these people and making you care for them, and what they do, and how they interact. In my eyes, The Walking Dead is closer to a compelling TV show you can play, more than a game.
Do I think it is a ground-breaking game that will change the face of gaming? Hell no.
When a mod of an old real-time strategy game creates a brand-new genre of game and paves the way for more like it to take over the e-sport scene with 10 million subscribers and even more active fans... that is ground-breaking. Or when an MMORPG takes an old formula and flips it on it's head to create the single-most played video game in the history of video games... that is ground-breaking. Or when a budding Japanese developer first makes a plumber jump onto a walking mushroom, thus bringing mainstream gaming to the masses... that is ground-breaking! An adventure game with an excellent story is refreshing, but far from ground-breaking. All three previously mentioned games (DOTA, World of Warcraft, and Super Mario Bros.) didn't just create new genres, they created video game icons, social movements, popularized e-sports, and branded an entire culture of people as "gamers." Call me crazy, but I don't think the next wave to sweep the video games industry will be a rash of well-written adventure games. The Walking Dead was awesome, I loved every minute of it, and I cannot wait to see what happens in Season 2, but let's chalk it up for what it was.
As a game, it was less than good. Compared to other episodic media, um... like TV, it can't hold a candle to character-driven shows like Battlestar Galactica or even it's TV counter-part, The Walking Dead on AMC. It was an excellent marriage of the interactivity a game provides and the well-written script of good TV series, but nothing more. No paving the way for this, or ground-breaking that. Just a surprisingly entertaining interactive experience, and one of the best you'll get in 2012.