- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

One of the more ferocious survivors of a familiar zombie apocalypse gets her own interactive adventure in The Walking Dead: Michonne — A Telltale Miniseries (Telltale Games, reviewed on Xbox One, Rated Mature, $14.99).

This first of a three-part series titled “In Too Deep” explores the life of the sword-wielding woman during a time when she left Rick Grimes and her friends to come to grips with her painful past.

Much like the roughly 10 episodes of the critically acclaimed “The Walking Dead” predecessor from “Telltale Games,” the presentation features a stunning, full-color, nearly three-dimensional homage to the comic-book series written by Robert Kirkman for the last 13 years.

In terms of character design, that means a Michonne not resembling AMC’s “The Walking Dead” actress Danai Gurira but instead looking ripped from the sequential-art pages crafted by Charlie Adlard.

The interactive story falls between Issues 126 and 139 of the comics and finds Michonne (voiced by Samira Wiley from “Orange is the New Black”) helping Pete and his crew aboard a small ship called “The Companion.”

The group’s mission of looking for survivors along the Chesapeake Bay leads to a horrific discovery as well as finding the mysterious floating settlement of Monroe.

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A player controls the action through directional prompts onscreen, delivering more of a methodical motion-comic experience rather than third-person shooter.

That does not mean the potential for palm-sweating encounters does not exist.

Take the first 10 minutes of the game when hitting the right sequence of controller buttons or moving the directional pads, when required, leads to our heroine wiping out about a half dozen of the flesh-hungry walkers.

Actually, during a trio of major encounters with the zombies in this episode, they fall in a variety of gruesome ways not limited to head stomping, decapitation, vivisection and stabbings to the torso and head with liberal amounts of a squishing noises and blood splattering.

During her journey, Michonne may also tune a shortwave radio to hone into the signal of a female crying out for help, sharpen a machete (her weapon of choice here and not the legendary katanas) and kick a supposedly empty candy machine hoping for a treat.

Also, and perhaps key to this type of story-driven gaming genre, a player communicates with other characters and must make timed decisions that could lead to an altering of the plot line as the entire adventure plays out.

For example, through what might be considered a strategy, my answers to characters and actions gave my Michonne a determined and often fearless personality. Unfortunately, I still feel like I led her to a current unwelcomed predicament that involves a jerk named Randal and the ominous Big Bad Norma.

Luckily, I can try the episode again and, hopefully, tailor my answers to get a better result for one of my favorite characters in “The Walking Dead” saga.

Additionally, if not already apparent with the brutal zombie violence, the story covers mature themes about a desperate humanity.

Early on, I could decide whether to pull a trigger with an emotional Michonne pointing a gun to her head. Of course, the bullet never hit its mark as Pete stopped her actions but events such as this means only those humans 17 years and older with a strong mind need partake.

Overall, a player will find roughly 90 minutes of the story revealed in “The Walking Dead: Michonne — A Telltale Miniseries, Episode 1 — In Too Deep.” The $14.99 price offers access to download all three episodes (part two arrives in March and the conclusion in April).

If this episode and past “Telltale” games offer any indication, the series will guarantee both a satisfying and dramatic story tied to the pop-culture phenomenon with a sufficient supply of grotesque moments.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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