1. The Walking Dead (2012, Telltale Games; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PC, Mac, iOS)
When Telltale unleashed the episodic adventure game The Walking Dead on the world last year, it took the gaming world by surprise. This was partially because it represented a level of depth and storytelling far beyond anything Telltale had released to that point. However, it also resonated with gamers because it perfectly captured the spirit that’s made Image Comics’ The Walking Dead such a huge hit. The comic has earned a reputation for its bleak, uncompromising look at a world after the fall of civilization, and depicting the ongoing struggles of a group of survivors trying to maintain some semblance of humanity after the world ends.
All five episodes of The Walking Dead put players dead center of the zombie apocalypse, and make a regular habit of throwing impossible choices at the player. Far from the generic, binary morality most games present (“Press X to be a saint, press Y to be history’s greatest monster”), The Walking Dead presents you with impossible decisions that literally put other peoples’ lives in your hands and forces you to choose quickly, passing no judgments. The game’s been criticized for some of its gameplay mechanics, but The Walking Dead perfectly encapsulates the voice and spirit of Robert Kirkman’s blockbuster comic, making it arguably the most successful adaptation in gaming history.