(Huge spoilers ahead.)
Ever attended an outdoor theatre? If yeah, you’ll understand the exact type of charm that befell the crowd attending Telltale Games’s “The Walking Dead Live Performance.” Though the crowd was sparse, the online audience breached 150,000-200,000 throughout, each person awaiting that end scene with as much emotional punch as the infamous conclusion of The Green Mile. And afterward, the voice actors courteously welcomed fans up to the stage for autographs and photographs.
The actors performed a select few key scenes, and video clips of gameplay summarized the skipped portions of story on a screen overhead. What is a ten-hour game was cropped down to an hour-long experience, including readings of the following scenes:
- Lee and Clementine meeting
- Lee and Clementine meeting Kenny and Duck
- The near escape into Lee’s parents’ pharmacy
- Kenny and Lee’s humorous investigation of the St. Johns’ suspicious barn
- Kenny smashing Lily’s father’s head while imprisoned by the St. Johns’
- Leaving Lily behind on the road
- Kenny sacrificing himself to aid Ben in Savannah
- Lee and Clementine’s emotional goodbye.
Despite a few technical hiccups, such as a few clips of seemingly out-of-order gameplay footage near the start that appeared slightly blue, or momentary jumps in the background music’s volume during the final scene, the event unfolded smoothly and felt both immensely comfortable and personal.
The love poured into the event was tangible. You could feel how it was all being done for love of the fans, and that everyone who was there wanted to be. By the end, I doubt few (if any) had dry eyes.
Unlike with film stars or performers in a play who look similar on and off screen, watching these actors voice their lines, standing side-by-side onstage, working all together for the first time, was not at all like seeing a dislocated replica of the original. Watching these unfamiliar faces recite familiar lines with spot-on skill was moving in its own right, but the real magic emerged from shutting your eyes and in an instant falling headlong into the game. The old frames and images, the emotions, the expressions came pouring back. Open your eyes, and the love you feel for these characters rushes onto the stage as the voice actors gave their all, reliving the scenes (that players themselves lived) that obviously had a profound impact on the actors as well. Call me a hippie, but it felt like a bonding moment for crew and audience, and to me that means the whole show was a huge success.
Everyone gave powerfully transcending, spirited performances that I would gladly watch again. I applaud Telltale and all who aided in creating this (actors included) for putting this on and giving back to the fans in this way. I can only hope we see more live performances in the future. For a company with extremely immersive games, this brought the level of entertainment and immersion to a whole new tier.