Point and click games have a somewhat checkered past in my gaming history. It’s a genre that I’ve always kind of liked the idea of, but I’ve never quite ‘got’ any of the classic titles such as Monkey Island.
For me Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead represents something of a new wave for the world of point and click gaming though.
Much like Heavy Rain, the first instalment of The Walking Dead thrusts you in to something more akin to an interactive story – building on the foundations laid by games such as Mass Effect, with story driving the game forward rather than action.
The episodic nature of The Walking Dead only furthers the story book feeling, with ‘Next Time’ teasers and ‘cliffhanger’ endings to entice you in to longing for the next instalment.
The strong reviews and positive feedback The Walking Dead has received is not only a testament to the work Telltale have put in to this new facet to the increasingly popular franchise, but also a signal that many gamers are ready for something more than the boom, boom, bang, bang that Call of Duty and its ilk offer.
And long may it continue. The gaming world deserves something built on brains, not brawn.
It deserves it because gamers are not purely wannabe gun totters out for their next shoot out in the latest clone FPS – they too crave mental stimulus, just as much as the man (or woman) reading War and Peace on the bus or studying sudoku on his (or her) lunch break.
And it deserves it because quite frankly gaming takes a battering from ‘the media’ at times for it’s more gritty affairs (see any ‘controversy’ relating to GTA or certain scenes in Call of Duty). Games are not just there to satisfy baser instincts such as smashing things or making things go bang. They are there to entertain and, as alluded too, stimulate the mind.
Once such story driven, mentally rewarding affairs spanned galaxies, or at least whole worlds. But the compact nature of The Walking Dead episodes prove that you don’t need to ‘go big’ to create a story driven game.
That you can allow people to embark on a journey that grips them within the confines of something as simple as an Xbox Live Arcade download opens up a tremendous amount of opportunities for anyone with a little bit of design flair and the ability to write a good story.
With puzzle games such as Fez, Braid and Limbo also helping drive the ‘mental gaming’ world, the industry seems to be on the cusp of an exciting period of ‘intelligent gaming’ which treats gamers as adults, not just thrill seeking teenage boys.