“The Walking Dead” infects video games, webisodes

By Araz Havan

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“The Walking Dead” returns to AMC on Oct. 13 for its fourth season. For the hordes of people – nine million, in fact – who saw the Season 3 finale, it has been a long wait.

Even though the finale was the most watched episode of the series, the show ended on a weak tone with respect to previous episodes. It was high energy and stressful as expected, but also featured the strange decision-making and frustrating dialogue that predominated the latter half of the season.

However, this hasn’t discouraged fans from tapping into the many “Walking Dead”-based material released in the interim. There are a ton of resources to keep “Walking Dead” devotees entertained, from online videos, video games, to the original graphic novels where it all began.

AMC’s “Walking Dead” website also features webisodes that are just a few minutes long and focus on outside characters and storylines not explored in the main show. The details in these webisodes are fantastic and really make the short episodes work as supplements. They take place in similar areas that characters in the regular show have encountered, but remain accessible because they never assume the viewer has any prior knowledge about the show. But for longtime fans, of course, shout outs to the fans are still very rewarding.

There have also been a few video games based on the series. “The Walking Dead” episodic series by Telltale Games is set in the same story universe as the comic books, but like the webisodes, features an entirely new set of characters. The cel-shaded art seems a bit goofy initially, but it ends up working exceptionally well as a callback to the graphic novels. Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” is a great choice-driven game that focuses on characters and storylines, but includes plenty of high-stress zombie action and just enough post-apocalyptic sentimental moments to keep it interesting.

Then there is “The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct,” which could have been a good game, but wasn’t. “Survival Instinct” is a first-person shooter and starring Daryl Dixon, arguably the best character in the show, but the potential stops there. With mediocre graphics and repetitive gameplay, not even the fact that Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker voice Daryl and Merle Dixon, respectively, can salvage the game. As the only silver lining in an otherwise very dark and boring mess of a game, “Survival Instinct” likely won’t quench your “Walking Dead” thirst.

The comic “The Walking Dead,” upon which the television series was based, was created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. Though the show borrows major events from the comics, it doesn’t strictly adhere to the same storyline or character development of the graphic novel. Daryl and Merle Dixon aren’t even characters in the comic, and the Governor was much crazier in print. For this reason, reading the comics won’t entirely ruin the show, since both mediums follow separate paths and enjoy throwing disparate curveballs at their fans. Just because they are alive in the comics doesn’t mean that zombies have not got them in the show and vice versa.

The wait for Season 4 is almost over and there is bound to be a “Walking Dead” marathon on AMC before the season premiere so that viewers can get their fix. But if that’s not enough, be sure to check out the extras on the official website or borrow a game or comic book if possible. It won’t be long before the show returns, but until then, take a deep breath and take some time to devise a zombie apocalypse survival plan to calm down. If Rick Grimes can do it, anyone can.

Araz Havan can be reached at [email protected]