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Game Review: The Walking Dead: Episode 1: A New Day

For: Playstation 3 (via Playstation Network), Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade), PC/Mac

From: Telltale Games

ESRB Rating: Mature (strong language, blood and gore, intense violence)

Price: $5 for the first episode, $20-25 for a five-episode season pass (PS3/PC/Mac)

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Telltale Games coasted into a rut with "Back to the Future," and its stab at something different with "Jurassic Park" was the kind of disaster that shakes your faith in a studio. So the arrival of "The Walking Dead's" first episode - which finds Telltale again breaking away from formula but subsequently breaking ground instead of confidence - couldn't be timelier.

Set concurrently with the events of the "TWD" television show, "A New Day" tells the story of brand-new character Lee Everett, who has a troubling secret to keep as well as a child to protect from the zombie horde. Safeguarding the latter (and yourself) means engaging in brief but tense action sequences where quick reflexes and the ability to make tough decisions quickly will serve you well. But it's the guarding of that secret that really brings Lee's story alive. The meat of "Day's" gameplay consists of dialogue with other survivors, but instead of asking questions and gathering information, you're holding answers, playing mental chess and deciding - quickly and without do-overs - whom to trust whom to deceive.

Your choices in conversation, along with some other decisions you must make with similar haste and confidence, play heavily into how "Day" concludes, and if the teases for the second episode are any indication, the ramifications of this episode will only intensify as the five-episode series marches ahead.

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