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The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: Xbox 360, PC, PS3, iOS
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Medium: Digital Download/Vita Card
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

I'm not entirely sure who the market for The Walking Dead on the PlayStation Vita might be. Sure, the Vita version includes the recently-released 400 Days DLC (rather than it being sold separately), but by this point, the game has already been on most major platforms, so I suspect the vast majority of people who want to play it already have. I mean, I decided to wait for the Vita version of the game after it was announced back in March (though, admittedly, I did play a little bit of the very first episode just to get a taste of it), but I can't imagine that making games specifically for people like me is all that profitable. (Though if it is: I'll take more open-world superhero games, please. Oooh, and a Vita version of Fables!)

That said, whatever the reason for its existence, I'm pretty glad the game is here, because — one somewhat notable issue aside, which I'll get to in a moment — it's absolutely amazing. It looks absolutely fantastic on the Vita's OLED screen, like a comic book come to life. The controls (both touch and traditional) work extremely well. And the writing, the character development, the general tone of the game…honestly, I can't think of anything else I've played that comes anywhere close to matching The Walking Dead.

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Case in point: I can't stand kids, which means that I really don't care for stories — in games or otherwise — where you're expected to protect or look after children. Despite that, I found myself getting emotionally invested in the core relationship of The Walking Dead between Lee, convicted murdered, and Clementine, a little girl he stumbles across shortly after the game begins. When I, as the main character, made a decision that upset the girl, I actually felt a twinge of regret.

My emotional investment went beyond that core relationship, too. There were points where I found the tension and the atmosphere almost unbearable, and I found myself thinking about the game's plot, its characters, and its development long after I put my Vita down.

Unfortunately, there's one significant issue that prevents the game from being perfect: at times (frequent times) it chugs along. If you're about to be prompted to choose your words or actions, the game pauses for a moment. If you're transitioning from one view to another, the game slows down. You only go from one scene to another after watching a "Loading…" screen for a couple of seconds. Basically, you're going to find your immersion in the game's plot broken pretty frequently. Considering this game is about as plot-driven as they come, that could've been a dealbreaker.

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That it's not is a testament to how amazing the storyline is. (Also, I'm not going to lie: when the game got particularly tense, I kind of welcomed the brief break. I'm a wuss that way.) Presumably, this is something that was already known by everyone that's already played The Walking Dead on PS3/Xbox/PC/iOS, but if you haven't yet had a chance to see it for yourself, then you owe it to yourself to rectify your oversight and get it for your PS Vita immediately.

Grade: A