Robert Kirkman's black and white comic book series, The Walking Dead, created an intriguing, yet exciting universe that centered around the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. The comic book’s success was built around the very real and relatable characters, gripping drama, and the suspense filled horror and violence that was both unforgiving and harrowing.
The Walking Dead was later adapted into a massively successful television series, and —just like the comics— it followed a group of survivors led by police officer Rick Grimes in the weeks and months following a zombie apocalypse. It would go on to be one of the most successful TV series, able to go head-to-head with the likes of HBO’s Game Of Thrones in terms of numbers.
However, those numbers saw a significant drop during the run of season 7 and didn’t pick up steam again until the final few episodes. The most recent series saw criticism from both critics and fans alike. With many feeling that after the explosive and absolutely gut-wrenching opening, the series had slowed down to an absolute crawl. Frustration seemed to be directed towards the series focus on backtracking, while trying to give substance to the newer characters that many viewers hadn’t connected with yet.
Despite this, the TellTale video game adaptation has continued to improve and tell just as a compelling story as the TV show while staying true to the roots of the comics. Here are 8 reasons why the video game adaptation is better than TV show and 7 reasons why it isn’t.
Also: SPOILERS AHEAD!
While AMC's The Walking Dead claims to pride itself on the same "no character is safe" motif as HBO's Game Of Thrones. Unfortunately, you still can't but feel that the most popular main characters like Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon will remain safe — even when all hell breaks loose. The risk of losing ratings is the obvious reason for keeping Rick and Daryl on our screens, but season one of Game Of Thrones did the unexpected by killing off Eddard Stark — something that fans still talk about to this day.
Telltale's Walking Dead put gamers in the shoes of the main protagonist Lee Everett, he was a great lead character that had real depth, and humanity which allowed gamers to develop a strong connection with him, as he took Clementine under his wing. This is why the impact of losing Lee at the end of the game hit so much harder, especially knowing that young Clem has to try and fend for herself. From a narrative standpoint, it was a risky move by Telltale, but it definitely paid off.
Lee was a tough but caring character who wasn't afraid to put others before him especially when it came to Clementine. He was strong, resourceful, and had great survival instincts. Still, as a leader, he doesn't really come close to Rick Grimes. Where Lee's group fell apart after three days, leading to his eventual death, Rick has managed to protect his family and keep his friends alive (the majority of the time).
Whether it was putting down Pete in Alexandria, making sure his group escaped a community of cannibals, or even devising a way to avenge the people he's lost, Rick isn't just a great leader he's the ultimate badass.
One of the biggest complaints about AMC's adaptation of The Walking Dead is that it strays too far away from the source material. In a lot of cases, the show changes character's personalities or completely undercuts major plot points.
A major advantage the game has over the TV series is in its dedicated to the source material. While it is its own entity —that's completely separate from the TV show or comic— the game acts more like a spin-off series, and a sketchy retelling. Not only does the game's art style closely resemble the comics, but Robert Kirkman has stated himself that season 3 of Telltale's adaptation is meant to go hand-in-hand with the comic's timeline.
One of the more frustrating things in Telltale's The Walking Dead is the zombie attacks. They usually consist of quick time events which can sometimes add a sense of tension and excitement at times, but they don't really induce the same amount of fear as the television show.
In the TV show, it has been established that the zombies aren't the scariest thing in the world. Still, they are still an ever growing and present threat. Despite Rick and company being able to deal with the walkers in small numbers, things get a little difference when they are overwhelmed. At times the show has displayed zombies attacking in their hundreds. The attacks can be epic, and they're almost always unpredictable and terrifying to watch.
The Telltale adaptation is far more compelling, largely because of the medium it's in. Video games can provide a means of interaction that forces the player to become more engaged with the story.
The Telltale series helps to make the narrative far more compelling by adding choice, the choices in the game can often have a devastating effect on the course of the story later on. These choices can cost your favorite characters their lives, or make an enemy out of potential friends. Additionally, the theme of choice helps create a less predictable and far more intense and involving storyline.
While the video game series provides its tension through a choice based narrative, the experience can be harrowing and emotionally frightening, Telltale's series is very rarely truly frightening. However, the television series has on many occasions provided intensely scary situations.
A more recent example, was the capture of Rick and his group in the season 6 finale, the level of tension and the build up to the final scenes were a masterclass in horror. The episode pulled clear inspiration from horror master John Carpenter, right down to the soundtrack. While the seemingly neverending numbers of 'The Saviors appearing, was very reminiscent of the 'Ducky Boys' scene from the 1979 film The Wanderers.
The spin-off series, Fear The Walking Dead, has provided viewers with a different perspective of how the events have unfolded, in a different part of the country which helped freshen up the televised version of the franchise. The Telltale series also did this when they shifted the perspective to a brand new group of survivors in the 400 Days downloadable content.
The Telltale series took this a bit further by actually placing you in the shoes of the future antagonists from season 2, which helped add an extra layer of depth and humanity to the characters that you would come view as your enemy. It's a concept that could be interesting with the TV series too, and was explored to some extent the Governor character, but unfortunately, it hasn't been done beyond one a single episode here or there.
Despite the major improvements in graphical technology and facial mapping, video games are (for the time being) unable to capture genuine emotion. So a major advantage the TV series has over the video game adaptation is the real human performances.
The Telltale series' graphical style works well in relation to the comics, but the game's engine (Telltale Tool) isn't quite up to the task of displaying a range of physical emotions to match the stellar voice acting on display.
Some of the TV shows most memorable moments have come from the actor's performances. Case in point, Andrew Lincoln's versatile acting range of differing emotions would be impossible to replicate in the current standard of the game series engine.
One huge complaint that television series has from fans is its overreliance on drama. Having good drama to move the story forward is a must, but at times the drama in the AMC adaptation can slow the show's pacing down to an absolute crawl — especially when it flips to a less interesting character's perspective.
The Telltale version, however, manages to keeps its drama focused on a smaller group of far more interesting characters while it keeps the narrative moving. The game's interactivity also helps the drama become engaging when you feel like you're a part of its overall story.
The Telltale version of The Walking Dead relies on player-choice to create an emotional response, by presenting difficult and sometimes shocking options. It is a fantastic tool that the developers have at their disposal. However, AMC's version is almost unrivaled in its ability to shock its audience through sheer brutality.
Even when you're expecting a certain character to die the display of brutality can at times be difficult to watch and disturbing, especially if you've become attached to that character. For example, when Negan had the group on its knees, this was undeniably one of the most visually brutal and emotionally draining scenes in the entire series.
While Telltale's animation can struggle to show the emotional range of the characters, it more than makes up for this in the voice acting. Every character stands out for their own reasons, and —as a result— it feels like like genuine loss (or triumph) when you lose one.
The TV show has been known for occasionally bringing in characters, that may as well walk around with a sign that says "zombie bait" on it. So their performances can at times be limited, because of the one-dimensional characterisation. In the game, even some of the minor characters have their chance to shine and add substance to the story beyond being someone or something's next victim.
While we're on Season 3 of Telltale's Walking Dead series, the television show has the advantage of being on our screens for over seven years. As it's approaching its eighth season, it is usually split in two by mid-season breaks, so it never feels like it is 'off' for very long.
Additionally, some of the original cast members are still with us like Daryl, Carol, Rick, and Carl to name a few — as well as some favorites which appeared a little later on. This has allowed viewers to develop their own favorites, and form an emotional attachment to these characters. As a result, the feeling of loss can have a bigger impact when it happens to one of our favorite characters - with Glenn being a prime example of this.
What truly sets Telltale's adaptation apart from the Televised version, is its ability to fully immerse you in its story. Video games are capable of pulling the player into its world in a far more meaningful way than the film or TV when the execution is done correctly.
Telltale Games are masters at making gamers fully connect to their characters through meaningful choices. Additionally, the choices are applied in a way that can make the player feel vulnerable, emotional and tense. This helps provide the game's story with a deeper sense of meaning and drives the player forward towards its conclusion.
Next to Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon is probably the television series most popular character. He was an original character created specifically for TV and doesn't appear in any of the comics or in Telltale's series.
Daryl is a great character that has a huge fanbase, and for a good reason, Norman Reedus' performance successfully displays a multifaceted personality who's tough, but has a heart of gold, often putting others before himself.
He's fundamentally a character that many people can relate to. He conquered his addictions and resolved his family troubles — in the end: he's stronger for it. Resultantly, these aspects of his character that many people consider Daryl to be the best character in the series — plus he's a badass with a crossbow.
There are so many video games, films, and TV shows where younger generation are for one reason or another incredibly annoying or make really stupid decisions.
Rick's son Carl, seems to make an endless number of mistake, but still always manages to survive through pure luck alone. Leaving the car, not staying in the house, or going to Negan's stronghold, are just some of the stupid things Carl has managed to do. He's also devoid of any personality and has even less emotional range than Telltale's graphics engine.
In contrast, Clementine has grown into a genuinely likable character that is realistically written and developed. She's become one of the strongest characters in any video game story. Her survival instincts and often being the only voice of reason in amongst a group adults, proves that her strength isn't displayed through her physicality, but through her will to survive and her ability to see reason.