I’d like to think that if the world was ever faced with the uncertainty of a zombie outbreak, that those desperately fending for their survival would turn to pinball to help make any tricky decisions. For it is Telltale Games’ take on Robert Kirkman’s bleak The Walking Dead that lends inspiration to the latest table to join Zen Pinball 2’s ever-expanding assortment.
Perfectly timed to arrive ahead of the television adaptation’s fifth season tormenting viewers worldwide, this places the fate of the unlikely heroes from the accompanying spin-off interactive episodic series behind the trajectory of a lone metallic ball.
It’s a faithful transition of Lee Everett and Clementine’s critically-acclaimed tale, concisely reworked within the table’s confines to reproduce many of the difficult decisions that players were faced with in the ambitious adventure game. You will still rattle, ping and flip around as you look to rack up a mighty high score, securing Combos, Skill Shots and elusive Super Jackpots to beat out the competition.
It is in the intricacy of detail that Zen Studios’ recreation truly shines, with animated models of the lead characters being accompanied with voice work recorded by the original cast. Zombies remain a continual threat, while outlying locations will be instantly recognisable to those that have played through the first season – whether that be Clementine’s treehouse, Everett’s pharmacy, the church bell tower and the freight train. Everything is largely interactive, eagerly waiting for the player to gracefully collide with them, whereas efforts have been made to challenge you with the brutal decisions that permeated the narrative.
Wii U GamePad integration allows for Off-TV Play, although, when not used in such way, you can see your remaining pinballs, pause proceedings, change the camera angle, or pull back on the starting spring by sliding your finger down the touchscreen.
Zen Studios have already perfected their craft with Zen Pinball 2, but The Walking Dead amounts to their greatest extension of it. Brimming with detail and referential nods to their source material, it successfully plays toward fan expectation and delivers a notable experience that will be appreciated by The Walking Dead and genre fans alike.