Telltale Games has been on a hot streak ever since it’s excellent first season of The Walking Dead made its debut back in 2012; however, the developer has largely failed to differentiate its myriad of game series from each other. From the second season of The Walking Dead to Tales from the Borderlands, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into with a Telltale experience. The developer’s latest effort, The Walking Dead: Michonne, isn’t any different.
Starring comic book and TV show regular Michonne, the first of the three episode miniseries—In Too Deep—contains the same flaws and perks you can expect from Telltale. There’s a large emphasis on player choice and character building. Much of what you’ll find in In Too Deep is solid, though not excellent. Michonne is definitely the episode’s biggest strength. For fans of both the comic books and TV show, Michonne is just as mentally and emotionally broken and troubled here. The opening minutes are brooding and haunting. Michonne’s obsession over her old life and children trickles into her current harsh existence. She has to survive, and she has been doing a good a job if so far, but how long will she able to last? Is it even worth it for her to keep fighting, or should she just give in and accept her fate?
The first decision she, and you, have to make is deciding whether or not Michonne should shoot herself in the head. Of course, no matter the choice you make, she still gets saved by Pete, one of the new interesting characters in this episode. Whether or not she actually kills herself isn’t the point, as this intense choice excellently sets the tone for In Too Deep. Yes, this will be just as haunting as the past two seasons of the developer’s The Walking Dead series.
The writing, voice acting, and storytelling is top notch—as expected. But despite this, the premise feels tiring. Everything starts out normal and quiet, as Michonne finds herself in a large sail boat with a bunch of eccentric crewmates. But of course, the situation starts to quickly deteriorate. Death, tough choices, and disease quickly envelope Michonne and the rest of the cast. It feels all too familiar and even banal at times. I’ve seen similar stories play out in a plethora of post-apocalyptic fiction, including Telltale’s own work. Familiarity drags this episode down, and it feels as though the narrative is failing to come into its own. What makes this Michonne miniseries different? Why develop this spinoff in the first place? Hopefully the next two episodes are able to offer something drastically different.
In terms of gameplay, In Too Deep plays as exactly like any other Telltale game. As mentioned, player choices are plenty and most of them are excellent. There’s also an abundance of exploration and Quick Time Events. The storytelling is front and centre with the gameplay taking a back seat. Telltale has long since stepped farther and farther away from making traditional puzzle adventure games.
Overall, In Too Deep is yet another solid addition to Telltale’s growing portfolio. But I can’t help but admit that my excitement for the next two episodes is lacking. Everything feels far too familiar.