It’s easy to forget the impact that The Walking Dead wound up having in 2012. Not only did it show that games could focus on narrative rather than action, it also proved that episodic releases could be both profitable and helpful to a game’s structure. Its financial success and subsequent critical acclaim paved the way for not only developer Telltale Games’ future projects, but also for games like Life is Strange.
So, with The Walking Dead‘s story finally set to come to a close in 2018, it’s fitting that Telltale Games are releasing a collection of the journey so far. Contained in The Walking Dead Collection are four games in total: the first three seasons of The Walking Dead (which all revolve around a young girl named Clementine), and then the mini-series The Walking Dead: Michonne (which doesn’t really have a connection to the other games). That’s a lot of content, especially when the games have a habit of leaving players an emotional husk after some of the tense decisions they have to make.
Having all of the games in one package is an interesting experience, as its really easy to see how the series has changed over time. The most recent season of the game was fresh in my mind since I played it earlier this year, so it was interesting to see how different the first game felt. Season one of The Walking Dead had plenty of adventure game elements and puzzles in nearly every scene (which makes the 2012 debate of whether or not it was a “game” even more ridiculous in retrospect), while the newer games have become more streamlined experiences. I don’t believe that these elements are wholly necessary (especially if they’re putting in puzzles just so there are puzzles to solve), but there were several scenes in the last season where some exploration would’ve helped the story they were trying to tell.
The biggest reason why players who have already played The Walking Dead series would want to double dip with this collection is the graphical upgrades that have been added to the first two seasons and Michonne. While I didn’t notice a huge difference for Season Two or Michonne (which launched on PS4), the first season shows the most improvement. Not only is the lighting more effective at showing the world, but the colors are much more vivid than ever before. This is definitely the best way to play these titles, and is the definitive collection for them.
One other nice benefit to this new version is that it features enhanced subtitles compared to the original The Walking Dead release. Like the most recent games by Telltale, players can choose from several different sizes of subtitles (including a large text version). It’s a small change, but one that is great to see for accessibility reasons. The whole package also feels more cohesive due to the standardization of options across titles.
It’s also worth noting that there haven’t been any real changes made to the games from a gameplay standpoint. You won’t find rewritten dialogue, and this doesn’t act like a director’s cut with extra scenes. For better or worse, these are the same versions that released previously. This also means that the last two titles aren’t quite as memorable as the first two seasons, and it’s a bit of a bummer to chart the series’ progression in such a manner. Still, it’s a great way to get caught up for The Final Season, which is bringing back some of Telltale’s best writers.
Besides having all of the games in once easy to track package, there’s not much here for returning players. There are new trophies for players to unlock, but the list is pretty poor. Not only does it only feature one Platinum trophy unlike some other PS4 collections, the bulk of the trophies are ones from previous games (complete with the same icons) that you get for completing an episode. Hilariously, all of the trophies are bronze except for the three The Walking Dead: Michonne trophies, which are all gold. This was a good chance for Telltale to do a fun list if they weren’t going to go down the multiple Platinum trophy route, but instead it’s generic and unfulfilling.
I was also bummed to see that there wasn’t any behind-the-scenes content in the collection. Considering Telltale has done some nice roundtables in the past to talk about titles (such as the first season of Batman), I would’ve loved to have seen what the developers thought about how far The Walking Dead has gone, and how pivotal a game it was for the studio. This was the perfect opportunity to celebrate, yet there’s nothing that makes this collection feel special.
The Walking Dead Collection easily achieves its goal of being the best way to experiences the bulk of Clementine’s journey. The most appealing part of the package is the graphically enhanced version of the first season, and it winds up being a joy to play thanks to how well the design has stood the test of time. Whether you’re curious of the series or a returning for a second go, there’s a lot to like about this well crafted collection.
The Walking Dead Collection review code provided by publisher. Version 1.03 reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.