How Your Choices DID Matter in The Walking Dead Series
I shared this post on r/TheWalkingDeadGame which was met pretty well, and since I am able to access my account, I felt I shall share the post on here
I have no doubt that the majority of comments are going to be shitting on this, and... cool, whatever floats your boat, if chatting shit online gives you a good buzz, by all means, shit all over this. But I'll say this: Just because you may disagree with this post, doesn't make this post any less true. So let's get into it.
“This Game Series adapts to the Choices you make. The Story is tailored by how you play.”
That same line of text appears in each and every Season, it informs players that their Choices impact the Story, and the Story is tailored by the Choices that the player makes throughout the course of the Season. But, not a lot of people buy into that, they believe their choices do not matter. That is far from the truth, and I hope to clearly explain why it is, as well as providing the truth as to what the above statement truly means.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead Series is composed of decision making, these decisions have an effect the lives of other characters, it determines your relationships with fellow survivors, these decisions shape the Story.
When you play The Walking Dead, depending on which Season, you play as either Lee Everett, Clementine, Michonne and Javier Garcia, each character is a relatively blank slate, sure they have backstories that show how they were previously, (Michonne is an established Comic Book character, but it’s in her game that we shape her personality after the All Out War arc and who she is to Pete, Siddiq, Sam, Greg, Norma, Randall etc. ), but it is our choices as these characters throughout the course of their respective Seasons that shape who they are, we shape their personality, we choose who we want to be, how we want to be, and who we want to be with as either individual. Our choices do matter in this instance, as we know what our Lee, Clementine, Michonne and Javier are like, as we made them into who they are in their respective Seasons.
I touched on why our choices matter to our playable characters, now I’ll do my best to explain the more “significant” side of Choices: How Choices Matter to the Story.
To begin, we shape our Story, we may be given the tools and scenarios like everyone else while playing through an Episode or a Season, the same Choices may be presented to us, but our reasons, our intentions, our morals, they influence our Choices. For example, in The Walking Dead: The Final Season, Episode 4, “Take Us Back”, during the McCarroll Ranch Flashback, we have the option to execute a wounded man that we shot in the neck, some people may execute him because he refused to tell us where AJ was, others may have shot him because he shot at Clementine, for me personally, I shot him out of mercy, he was dying slowly, and I felt that a kind act of mercy was necessary. In my Story, I shot him out of mercy, for others, they could have shot him for different reasons which is part of their Story, and there are some that didn’t shoot him, that Choice is part of their Story.
With Lee in The Walking Dead: Season One, Episode 5, "No Time Left", we are presented with an option to amputate Lee's arm or to keep it, the end result is that Lee succumbs to either the infection or the blood loss at the end of the Episode. Recently, DomTheBomb made a video on it saying how it didn't matter because Lee still died, but it really did matter, it matters to Your Story, there was no guarantee that amputating the arm would save Lee anyway, but that doesn't mean the choice did not matter, amputating the arm has an effect on the Episode, it effects Lee, it has an effect on the rest of the group, on Clementine, Lee's fighting ability, it does matter, but like I previously said, it was not a guarantee to save his life, it was an attempt to save his life, an attempt that didn't work.
Another example, which is commonly used to support the narrative that “Choices Don’t Matter” is with Nick and Sarah in The Walking Dead: Season Two. Both characters can be saved, but both die later down the line. Your choice to save Sarah matters, as it saves her, but what makes people think that it doesn’t matter is that beyond that point, Sarah doesn’t appear all that much until the Hub Area at the Parker’s Run monument and when the group are fighting off walkers at the Gift Shop, which also happens to be where she later dies. Because of that, people write it off by saying it does not matter because she dies, but it does matter, it matters to the Story, the Story that you, the player, are shaping with your choices. In my Story, Clementine lost an extremely close friend in Sarah, for others, Sarah and Clementine were not friends, and so forth.
One final example, is Kenny/Jane in A New Frontier, we all know what happens to them, but just because they passed away, does not mean your Season Two Choice did not matter, because it mattered to your Story, Kenny may have died, but did Clementine try dragging him to safety, did she have a tearful goodbye with him? That depends on your Choices, it matters to your Story.
How I view this topic is like a potter and clay, we all get a small piece of clay, and we shape it into what we want it to be, we all may have clay that comes from the same source, but what it becomes depends on us, just like it is with The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series, we all encounter the same scenarios and have the same choices presented to us, but our reasons, morals and intentions that influence our choices cause us to make them, and in doing so, they become part of your Story.
The Story is yours, Your Story is tailored by how you play, your choices do matter!
To summarise, while Telltale's The Walking Dead, or any other Telltale game, doesn't make its branching as blatantly obvious as say, Detroit: Become Human, the branching is still there, there are scenes that we all will experience, but who we experience it with, how we experience it, that is unique, our Choices grant us the opportunity to personalise our Story
I hope I made some sense with this, I am quite confident in this viewpoint, that this was what Telltale and the Dev Team behind The Walking Dead had in mind. Have a good day