So I guess the dark cabal of video game industry Illuminati decided that The Walking Dead was going to be THE big deal this year. Many people had many different feelings injected into their pasty, fedora-covered craniums and the game can't stop receiving accolades. King Accolade came from Viacom's Black Sheep of a Cable Channel Lets the Nerds Out on the Town for a Night 2K12. It just snowballed from there. "Finally! The anti-Call of Duty!" many exclaimed as apparently their hate for the CoD franchise is based off their misconception that "only modern military FPS or the games I like can't exist at the same time." "Finally" the pretentious, socially awkward generic gamer cried "someone had the bravery to raise high a game tied to a preexisting, multi-million dollar comic series/record-breaking TV show on a major cable network!" "How very indie and how very, very brave!"
So why all the snarky vitriol coming from me? Some mediocre, anonymous basement-dweller? Well, it's because I can't help but remember things. I can't not remember all the hate that was lumped onto Bethesda post-launch of Skyrim for performance issues. I can't help but know that, since the beginning of the series, if one fires up whatever annual iteration of Call of Duty (or Madden, or Halo, or whatever other popular game collects the ire of "core gamers"), one will be able to play the game with their save file very much intact. I can't help but remember way back to a little over a week ago when this site's own Jim Sterling called for legal action to be taken against Capcom for selling a broken game on an episode of his show The Jimquisition over at The Escapist.
So, in light of all these memories, what version of The Walking Dead did YOU play?
It seems most high-profile gaming blogs, sites, outlets played a version of the game that forced you to make monumental, meaningful decisions in a wonderfully stylized game that almost demanded you care about your companions due to rock-solid writing.
I was playing that very same game. Or at least I thought I was playing that same game up until about the end of Episode 3 when I had discovered that I had purchased the "Fuck Your Face" edition of the game:
"Oh hey, you want to continue from some arbitrary point in Episode 2 where you left off, guy?" the game said.
"Ummm, game, I was near the end of Episode 3, remember? I was on the train, we got to the tanker blocking the way and then we met those people and I was all like 'this is a good place to stop because it's 4AM. Ring a bell?" I replied.
"No brah, Episode 2. Start it up."
"What the fuck... Ok I'll click on "continue" and maybe the game will snap back to my actual progress" I grumbled, hoping for a longshot.
"Hey, if you rewind the game, some of your choice in forward progress will be erased, buddy" the game warned.
"Fuck you, I clicked on 'continue,' not 'rewind.' They're two totally different buttons. What the fuck ever, let me just hit 'B' to back out..."
--our protagonist presses the B button--
"I'm locking up!" cries the game.
So that internet radio play is my personal experience. I bought the game via Steam for PC. A buddy of mine had to hit pause continuously on his disc-based PS3 version because the action on screen would lag or become out of sync thus sometimes forcing him to miss action cues (hitting pause would magically re sync stuff temporarily). Kotaku says you should avoid the iOS version all together.
I was really enjoying the game. And some would say that I should just man up and replay from where the game is asking me to. I absolutely would, but what is the guarantee that the same thing won't happen again at the same spot? Or happen in a later episode? Or delete my save completely? Do I need to play all the episodes in one long sitting or does that even matter? Will the end of Episode 3 be broken indefinitely?
Now the atmosphere/experience is ruined and I don't really care when/if I pick it back up. The devs have been all but silent on their own forums in posts of people complaining about the exact same problem I have or other, just as game-ending problems. They issued a generic "a small number of users are experience problems blah blah" press release that doesn't include a timeline for, ya know, letting people actually play the game they paid for. Something makes me think this is a Microsoft-esque "only a small number of users are experiencing the RRoD" and not an actual "small" number of users.
I'm not saying that Bethesda didn't deserve a little "gamer raeg" for Skyrim (and actually I completely agree that the "whoops how we gonna do DLC on PS3?!" is bullshit). I know that Skyrim won GOTY from a bunch of places despite its technical issues. But you couldn't turn around on the internet without an article or a forum thread or a comment filled with frothy Skyrim hatred. It seems that most "reputable" outlets have gone dark on The Walking Dead in regard to everything but the sputtering of ropes of Praise Cum about how moving, important, and daring this adventure game based on a preexisting, multi-million dollar comic series/record-breaking TV show on a major cable network is.
Maybe Telltale should be a bit more proactive with fixing their broken game. Maybe game "journalism" outlets should choose a more unpopular route of "hey, this game is fucked right now" rather than "staying on message with popular, arbitrary opinion." ...Maybe Jim should have called for at least the video game industry equivalent a parking ticket for Telltale amidst his bukkake party of praise for a game that won't let "a small number" of players get halfway through it, or save a game, or play it at all.