The Walking Dead S1 and S2 Xbox One Impressions

Telltale's Best Work Shines Brighter on Xbox One

The Walking Dead S1 box. Telltale Games

Welcome To The Walking Dead on Xbox One

Telltale's The Walking Dead games are already on pretty much every gaming (and even non-gaming-specific) platform imaginable, so it was only a matter of time before they were released on Xbox One.  We share our impressions of both Season 1 and Season 2 on Xbox One here.

Unlike the releases on other platforms, The Walking Dead S1 and S2 on Xbox One are not available episodically.  You either buy the disc at retail, or the digital download, and it includes all of the episodes in one package.  In a very nice gesture, the digital versions are actually $25 each while the retail discs are $30.  Just to be clear, you have to buy Season 1 and Season 2 separately.  Season 1 includes all 5 episodes plus the 400 Days DLC that acts as a bridge to Season 2 which has 5 episodes of its own.  Each season takes 5+ hours to play through. 

Unfortunately, you can't transfer your saves from Xbox 360 (or any other platform) to Xbox One, so you'll have to start over from scratch.  It is kind of a pain, but the games are fairly short, and playing through them goes a lot faster after your first time anyway.

What Is Telltale's The Walking Dead Series?

If you somehow haven't already played it, you're really in for a treat with Telltale's The Walking Dead games.  They aren't really connected to the TV show other than they take place in the same world, so experience with the show or the comic is not necessary to enjoy the games.  The games offer very simple gameplay much like oldschool adventure games where you only have limited movement and have to look around for interactive elements or have conversations to investigate each room / scene before you can proceed.  You move your character with the left stick, the cursor (to interact with stuff) with the right stick, and talk to characters, use items, and interact with stuff with the face buttons.  For the most part, the gameplay is slowly paced.  This is not a combat-heavy, shoot a million zombies-type of game (there is a Walking Dead game like that ... but you don't really want to play it).  Occasionally, you'll have to perform quick-time-events that pop up on screen, but they generally give you plenty of time.

With all of that said, I'm not actually a huge fan of the gameplay itself.  It is awkward and clunky, to put it bluntly.  It doesn't really need to be anything more than that, however, because it really is just a vehicle to deliver the story.  The story is supposed to be the real attraction here, and unlike David Cage's offensively terrible and poorly written garbage games (Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain on PS3, just for reference) with awful stories that use gameplay in a similar way, the story and characters and writing overall in The Walking Dead are actually good. 


The Walking Dead Season 1 features Lee Everett who is on his way to prison the day the dead started walking.  When the police car he's riding in crashes, and after fending off some zombies, he takes shelter in a nearby house where he meets a little girl named Clementine.  Together, they set out to find Clem's parents and along the way they meet other people and just try to survive.  As Lee, you are asked to make decisions that directly impact who lives / dies and what happens next in the story. 

Walking Dead Season 2 has you playing as Clementine 16+ months after the end of Season 1.  She meets up with a new cast of survivors whose goal now is to try to get to a city in the north that is supposed to be safe from the walkers.  Decisions you made in the first season carry over to the second season and, again, you have to make new decisions that affect the story.

I don't want to spoil any more of the story than that, but I will say this:  Kenny sucks.  Also, Lee and Clementine are completely amazing.  They are so incredibly realistically written, and so genuinely likeable, that they make the main characters of just about every other zombie story seem worthless in comparison.  The other characters in The Walking Dead aren't quite as loveable, but Lee and Clem are absolutely incredible.  You care about them and you desperately want to protect Clementine at all costs. 


With that said, I do have to take issue with the way your decisions actually affect the story.  This isn't really a choose your own adventure, since the story plays out the same way no matter what.  You're just sort of along for the ride.  Instead, you're more choosing how and when the people around you die, more than actually making decisions about your survival.  Also, while it makes sense that Lee is asked to make choices for the group in Season 1 (being a full grown man and all), having Clementine as a decision maker in Season 2 is kind of silly. 

You're always in life-or-death situations, and a bunch of adults constantly turn to an 11-year old girl for advice.  And what is really frustrating in Season 2 is that you have to make decisions, but then the other characters go do their own things anyway (and usually die because of it).  It makes sense, I suppose, that they wouldn't really take the advice of Clementine seriously since she is a little girl, but it gets tiring seeing everyone around her constantly make terrible decisions when they would have been better off listening to her.  I suppose that is the genius of the storytelling in Season 2, though, that both you as the player as well as Clementine are increasingly frustrated by the situation.  

Performance and Visuals

All of the content in The Walking Dead is always the same regardless of the platform, right down to terrible framerate problems, glitches, and other performance issues.  At least, until now.  The Xbox One version of The Walking Dead Season 1 is probably the smoothest one yet.  It doesn't sputter and choke all over itself constantly like every other version.  Occasionally the visuals will flicker or something (the face of the cop in the car ride in the beginning was pretty jittery for me) but the framerate holds up really well.  I was really quite impressed.

Season 2 isn't quite as smooth, unfortunately, but it performs better overall than the 360 version did.  It still has lengthy load times that suck the drama out of tense situations (seriously, the game always has to load right when something awesome is about to happen), but you get used to it.  

Both seasons run at 1080p and look really good.  I can't give you number on the framerate, but framerate isn't really all that important here.  It is mostly smooth.  Except when its not.  Anyway, the graphics are really sharp and nice this time around and easily outclass the visuals on the 360 versions.  You can really see a lot of detail now.


One difference between the Xbox One release and other versions of the games is that Season 1 and Season 2 have 1000 gamerscore each on Xbox One compared to 500 GS each on Xbox 360.  The achievements are easy to get - just play through the game to get them all.  

Bottom Line

If you haven't played them already, The Walking Dead Season 1 and 2 are absolutely worth a look no matter the platform, but you'll get a great experience on Xbox One, which is the version I have to recommend from here on out for Xbox fans.  While you can play Season 2 on its own, it is highly, highly recommended you start with Season 1.  Your decisions carry over from Season 1 to Season 2, and character reveals and plot details in Season 2 will make a lot more sense (and you'll care a lot more) with S1 experience under your belt.  Overall, The Walking Dead Seasons 1 and 2 are absolutely worth playing.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.