The Walking Dead is becoming a full-fledged franchise. The comic gave birth to the TV show, and more recently, an adventure game from Telltale. Now, the TV show is serving as the impetus for a first-person shooter game, coming next year from Activision.
Terminal Reality, the developer behind 2009′s well-received Ghostbusters: The Video Game, is crafting The Walking Dead Video Game. (TR also created this year’s abysmal Kinect Star Wars, but let’s just overlook that. Everybody’s got to pay the bills.) The new game is based on the TV show, not the comic. If you’re wondering why that distinction is important, it’s because the game puts you in the shoes of Daryl Dixon, a character that was created specifically for the show.
The events of the game precede that of the TV show, so you’ll take control of Daryl and his trusty crossbow immediately when the zombie outbreak begins. The news was broken by IGN, but their article makes no mention of Daryl’s brother Merle, while the teaser trailer for the game focuses on the two of them instead of Daryl alone. Whether he’s joined by Merle or not, the game follows Daryl’s harrowing journey to Atlanta, where he hopes to find safe haven. Players will be able to choose between going after the Walkers guns-a-blazing or using a stealth-based approach. Only one thing is certain: there is no safe place anymore. Food, ammo, and medical supplies will be scarce and require careful management, and lots of other characters Daryl meets along the way are potentially allies or threats.
The notion of making Daryl the protagonist is a really fascinating and unexpected choice. Fans of the show know that Daryl grew up an angry redneck alongside his racist, misogynist brother Merle. But Daryl isn’t like his sibling; he has a soul. It’s a very rough-around-the-edges softer side, but it’s definitely there. He’s also a dead-eye shot with that crossbow — or any other weapon he gets his hands on. So here’s my big question: how will Merle be portrayed in the game? He has to come into the story at some point, because the two of them are together when the TV show begins. Will Activision pressure Terminal Reality to make Merle a more accessible anti-hero? Or will Terminal Reality let it all hang out with Merle — hate-filled racism and all?
We’ll find out next year when The Walking Dead Video Game arrives for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. (Whither Wii U?) Activision is also promoting the game at Comic-Con later this week, so we’ll be watching for more details to emerge from San Diego.