SPOILER ALERT: Be warned, there are spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead TV show in this post, so if you haven’t watched them, steer clear!
When we first decided that The Walking Dead videogame would be built around a single-player action-adventure prequel to AMC’s insanely popular series, there’s only one character that checked every “must have” slot. We needed somebody who was rugged and capable of surviving alone in the ruins of civilization, but also sympathetic to the needs of others in a world where it only makes sense to help yourself. We needed a protagonist who is tough enough to take on a swarm of raging walkers, but smart enough to know that there are probably safer alternatives. Finally, we wanted a fan-favorite character who you can’t wait to learn more about.
Welcome to the stand, Mr. Daryl Dixon. Really, who else would you want to play as in The Walking Dead? We’ve spent a lot of time with Daryl recently, really getting to know him. We’ve reviewed every scrap of his series footage, pored over interviews, and most importantly, gotten insight and guidance—but still no Season 3 spoilers–from the ultimate authority, actor Norman Reedus.
It’s been surprising for some of us to dive deeper into a character we thought we knew from the show. Did you know that even though Daryl has pulled a gun (and crossbow, and knife) more times than you can count, the only living person he’s actually killed is Dale, in a very clear-cut mercy killing? That’s the kind of attribute we’re interested in exposing beneath the leather-tough exterior.
I traveled to Atlanta recently with our Audio Director Kyle Richards in order to work with Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl on the show. He recorded Daryl’s in-game dialogue during a pair of recording sessions. We’re big fans of the series, but once you work with an actor in the flesh you really get to know him. Norman is super-cool, generous, and a real joy to work with. And man, does that guy deliver! He gets the scene, the line, and what you’re going for instantly and then doubles down on it, effortlessly ‘Darylizing’ lines for maximum punch. He’s the kind of actor that really makes writers look good. When you finally hear the lines you’ve been shaping and reshaping in your head for months spoken in that voice – and sounding way better than you even hoped? Well, that makes for a pretty good day. And he really got into the game, which is especially gratifying.
Kyle, our audio director, wanted to chime in here as well:
“Norman’s a badass. One second you’re talking to this cool, laid-back guy, and then he clears his throat, and there’s Daryl, larger than life. You’re suddenly checking your back to make sure walkers aren’t creeping up on you. This is actually the first video game he’s ever worked on, but you’d think he’d been doing it for years! Also, he has excellent taste in motorcycles.”
Our goal is to shape Daryl authentically, chronicling everything that happens to him from the initial Wildfire Global Outbreak until he joins with Rick Grimes’ group at that quarry near Atlanta. And on the way, we’ll reveal a couple of our own interesting backstory surprises that fans haven’t already gleaned from the series.
As a bonus, we get to recreate that original dark blot of violence on mankind, Merle Dixon. The relationship between the Dixon brothers is complicated, to say the least. We get to illustrate from Daryl’s point of view the conflict created when the toughest, most capable-of-surviving-zombie-apocalypse person you know is also the most volatile, uncontainable force of nature left on the planet. Also: he’s your older brother. All fun all the time!
What I find fascinating about AMC’s The Walking Dead is the way that they’ve been able to take an epic, global story and focus it on the human equation. The main story arc involves the outbreak of walkers, but the show is really about morality and the choices people are forced to make in unusual circumstances. How far would you go to protect your family? Is life still worth living and protecting? Who do you trust and how much is that trust worth? These are all questions that drive the story and while there is a visceral thrill in watching the interaction with the walkers, there is an emotional connection with the characters that really forms the heart of the show.
We’re really looking forward to letting everyone see how we’ve taken our appreciation for the series (and Daryl in particular) and turned it into an interactive experience. Players will have the opportunity to meet some interesting characters and have a hand in deciding their fate.
Oh, and there are some really cool zombies.