The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection Review
The first season of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series made its developer a household name while proving that the indie revolution was truly in full swing. The game diverged so much from others of its time, offering up a downloadable experience that rivaled AAA releases; at least in terms of writing, story, and characters. Winning tons of Game of the Year awards, the series was a hit and Telltale quickly followed up with a second season, a spinoff, and a third season.
Now with the fourth and final season around the corner Telltale has seen fit to release The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection, combining all 19 currently available episodes into one single package, while adding some visual touchups along the way. What we have here is an amazing conglomeration of some of gaming’s best characters and stories, but maybe not one worth double dipping for.
Stretched across three full seasons, with one DLC episode and a spinoff featuring series favorite character Michonne, the story of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection is long and winding. Depending on the season you’ll play either as Lee, Clementine, Michonne, or Javier, each with their own collection of survivors to work with or fight for resources.
You play these games for the story and the writing, and this is where The Walking Dead has almost always excelled
Set within the comic universe, the series began by trying to marry itself to the franchise, featuring crossovers that, in hindsight, don’t make a ton of sense. Once things kick in though the first season delivers a truly moving story that will immediately endear you to the characters of this world. The second season continues that journey, adding in a mix of new characters to love or hate as you so choose. The Michonne spinoff took us far into the future, catching things up with the comics to tell a standalone story that fell quite flat compared to its predecessors. And A New Frontier took things in a new direction while still adhering to the core of the The Walking Dead Telltale experience.
Each season has its lovers and its haters, except perhaps the magnificent first season. Of course, that season is a bit more dated these days. The mechanics can be rough, even compared to other Telltale titles, which have become infamous on their own for their less than stellar tech work. Still, you play these games for the story and the writing, and this is where The Walking Dead has almost always excelled. Michonne and A New Frontier are certainly the weaker entries in the whole franchise, but even they have their moments that can wow you.
This often comes in the form of choices that are offered to players throughout the season. These, and other Telltale titles, always brag that the experience is “tailored by how you play.” That promise has always been a little bit of a stretch, as the games still end up in almost the same place by the end. The journey can be quite different though, especially in terms of how characters react to your actions, and how they interact with you afterward. You may not be able to save everyone from the specter of death, but you can often delay it, or make it less traumatic, for example.
Across these 19 episodes you’ll find some of gaming’s best storytelling, to be sure. It does lag in the later entries, but there’s something really magical about the brutal world of The Walking Dead. It crafts excellent stories quite often, and yet Telltale has managed to put together some of the best. If you have never played these games before then The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection is certainly worth checking out on story elements alone. As long as you’re OK with some dated and janky gameplay, which consists almost entirely of quicktime events, dialogue trees, and small areas with interactive points, then you’ll find amazing writing within this set.
It’s also the best these games have looked on the consoles. Graphical improvements have been made here, as can be seen in the comparison below. This comparison goes way back to the first releases though. For those who’ve already purchased the latest releases on PS4 and Xbox One, you might not see this much improvement, especially for the later seasons. During my time with The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection I flipped around between it and my Xbox One copy of Season 2. The differences were fairly minor, but it was clear that at least a few things had changed, even if the particulars weren’t entirely obvious, aside from lighting.
The Walking Dead Collection Graphics Comparison
More could have been done to improve these games, had Telltale went in and did a full rework of them. Porting them to the more updated engine, or hammering out some of the technical hiccups could have really cemented this as a must buy. As it stands, they are mostly the same experience. This means that there isn’t any reason to double dip for The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection. It does offer a nice single interface for the whole experience, so fans or those who prefer tidiness might enjoy that. Having the games integrated like this offers a sort of Collector’s Edition feel, and as a big fan you might like that enough to warrant the purchase. Though there had better be an option to add in The Final Season, when it releases.
What should really be the draw here, however, is the story, and that hasn’t been changed. If you played it once already, and don’t feel like a replay, then this collection might not be right for you. If you haven’t, then this is by far the best way to experience these games outside of the PC releases, which even still might not receive the full visual upgrade. But it always looked a lot better, and had a higher framerate. Playing on the Xbox One X, it was surprising to see how low the framerate could get, mostly in the first season, which brings me back to the fact that this is not a remake or even a remastering. It’s a collection with some bells and whistles added on to the older entries, and not anything more. If that’s what you want, it’s a good one though.
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection puts together some of the best stories in video games. This series has changed a lot, but even in its worst times it has always delivered tension and excitement, with characters you can truly care about. The first season is an undisputed classic, the second is still fantastic, and the rest are still quite enjoyable, except perhaps some of Michonne. Previous owners might struggle to find the value here, but if you’ve never played these games before then this should be at the top of your Christmas list.