In Too Deep, the first episode to Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Michonne mini-series, follows the events of a brand new cast of characters and focuses on the struggles of one of the comic’s most intriguing survivors. Set between a lengthy gap in the books, we see what swordswoman Michonne was doing when away from the main group. This unfortunately causes a lot of the tension to be lost since the outcome is known. New visual tricks help make this series feel fresh while others tend to confuse. Unfortunately, the story feels a bit too forced and the characters’ motivations don’t come across enough to really get invested.
The crux of Michonne’s struggle is that her past continues to haunt her. Throughout the episode you are given brief flashbacks to her lost children. It feels jarring from a narrative standpoint since they come about so randomly. It feels like two separate storylines that don’t have enough to work together on. The only relation we get is that her hallucinations of the kids will pop up in the environment momentarily. At best we can hope that this is building towards something more meaningful because right now it just feels like we are being hit over the head with her internal struggle.
The game plays identically to what you would expect from Telltale Games. You pick diverging dialogue options in order to change the outcome of the story. The on screen button prompts have been jazzed up by placing them in strategic locations instead of just on the perimeter. For example, if the game is wanting you to stab a zombie’s head, the X icon will show up above that specific area. The icons will also be tilted in order to follow the orientation of the zombie and move/shuffle with them which is a subtle but nice touch. The arrow indicators for your analog stick movement has also been altered but in a negative way. Correctly inputting the motion will cause the arrow to change from white to white-with-blood-splattering. A red indicator is typically negative and having it reversed in this case made me question whether I screwed up or not every single time. Michonne has both improved and worsened Telltale’s standard user interface.
The biggest problem is that your motivation in the episode seems completely off. Your characters are forced into a dangerous situation based on a complete misunderstanding and no one believes. The motivation for peril seems totally forced and caused me to roll my eyes in frustration instead of buying into the tension. Along with this, because Michonne takes place between two storylines, we know that she makes it out to continue with the comic series. This also leads you to not having to worry about throwing our protagonist into dangerous scenarios since we know she will be fine. It’s hard to get invested in a choose-your-own-adventure game that won't let me have any real input to what is going on.
Michonne starts off on a rocky path mainly because of story restrictions. The accompanying characters have forced you into a scenario that should be easy enough to talk your way out of and the already written outcome limits this further. The flashbacks have promise but without a clearer connection they feel too random. The bed has been laid for - hopefully - a better episode two, but with only three episodes to this series it’s a bleak situation.