Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Michonne has been a mixed bag to say the least. Though Samira Wiley’s performance as the Walking Dead’s resident sword-swinging badass has been a high point throughout, everything that surrounds has failed to grip me even half as much as the side story’s titular heroine.
What We Deserve doesn’t let up for a moment, using its scant two-hour run time to effectively tie up as many loose ends as it can (which it does, in a perfunctory and completely hollow manner). Backed into a corner, Michonne is forced to deal not only with the angry mob coming to kick the front door in, but also the past that she has run from for so long. In particular, the series of tragic events that unfolded on the day the dead first learned how to walk.
Compared to most of the other characters in the game, Michonne is incredibly complex. While the rest of the cast seem to be comprised of victims of circumstance being set upon by another angry villain with the best of intentions and a community under their thumb, Michonne is more than a reactionary figure. As such, she’s probably the most interesting protagonist in a Telltale game since Bigby Wolf. As a result, scenes that solely deal with her own inner turmoil, state of mind, and tragic past are by far the best in the game, and this episode has some of the most heart-rending in the whole mini-series.
However, the bulk of What We Deserve spends it’s time wrapping up the far less interesting conflict between Randall, Norma and the Fairbanks. There’s a nice sense of tension in the opening hour, as everyone prepares for the inevitable, and each of the supporting characters get some much-needed development. The final showdown is nail-bitingly tense, and it feels like one wrong word or move could lead to an already terrible situation going nuclear. I screwed up. And it did.
Or at least, I thought I had…until I decided to replay the scene to see if I could do any better, and found I couldn’t even alter the details slightly. Which is, ultimately, the biggest problem with Telltale’s brand of choose your own adventures: It doesn’t matter what you do, because the narrative will play out in one particular way, with a few minor adjustments and maybe one of the characters will be a bit more hostile towards you.
I also can’t help but think that the series would have been much better if it had been a straight origin story, comprised of the events leading up to and eventually culminating in the tragic events of day zero. Flashbacks are all well and good, and they are interwoven with the main events between the games extended cast fairly well, but ultimately the main narrative, with its predictable outcome and humdrum cast, simply isn’t strong enough to convincingly hold the series together.
What We Deserve is an action-packed conclusion that hits all the usual beats you would expect from the Walking Dead and Telltale’s brand of QTE heavy adventuring. The problem is that there’s no surprise. No big twist or reveal, there’s just the steady fulfilment of a checklist before the credits roll. If you played season two of The Walking Dead, you will know exactly how it is going to play out, and mechanically it’s identical to every other game Telltale have released since the first genre-redefining season of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead: Michonne is..OK. It’s not the worst game Telltale have made (that dubious honour still goes to Jurassic Park), but it’s not the best (a tossup between the first season of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us). Even if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, I’d still recommend waiting for a sale or picking it up in a humble bundle.
The Walking Dead: Michonne ‘What we Deserve’ was reviewed on PS4 with a copy provided by the publisher
Publisher: Telltale Games | Developer: Telltale games | Genre: Adventure | Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android | PEGI/ESRB: 18+,M | Release Date: April 26, 2016 | Controls: Controller