The Walking Dead: Last Mile is not a game in the traditional sense. I was reminded of this many times during my exclusive preview session with the team behind the upcoming hybrid series. Part Facebook Gaming event, part Facebook Watch streaming series, I came away thinking that Last Mile is, more than anything, an intriguing social experience that comfortably blends technology ahead of its time with one of the tape series most popular comics in the world.
When The Walking Dead: Last Mile debuts later this year exclusively on Facebook, you won’t need a controller, console, PC, or even a copy of the game to commit to it. . To better understand what kind of experience it will be, you just need to understand the pun in its title. The Walking Dead: Last Mile is itself a MILEor a massively interactive live event.
From a team that includes Genvid Technologies, whose underlying cloud technology runs the operation, Skybound, which writes the story, and Pipeworks Studios, which handles the game’s artwork and development, this next MILE may be familiar. to those who have participated in them before, like Genvid’s Survivor-like rival peak. In season, a MILE is like a 24/7 stream, with major and minor moments happening at different times of the day for months at a time, while the AI-assisted characters live their days, whether you are there to influence them or not.
To interact, players simply need a browser that allows them to access Facebook. There they decide how involved they want to be in the story of the season, whether that means just watching things unfold like it’s an anthill, participating in the interactive elements like a morning routine – a new Wordle, can -to-be – or even what makes it their new favorite dedicated series, like watching a Twitch streamer for a few hours each day. If players miss a Last Mile period, they can follow the drama via a wrap-up show that will air regularly and give them something like a “previously on” segment.
Rival Peak has been Genvid’s most successful MILE to date, but company CEO and co-founder Jacob Navok told me the team is using what they learned from that experience to make The Walking Dead: Last Mile made even better, so all players can feel satisfied no matter their level of interaction, and perhaps more importantly, no matter what time zone they live in. “If you choose to lean back and watch, it will progress. You don’t have to do anything. The reason you participate in the activities is that you want to have more power over the outcome.”
While some interactive elements, such as the mechanics behind joint decision-making, are still being finalized, Skybound’s Shawn Kittelsen happily pointed out that Last Mile is being treated as a proper new entry into The Walking Dead’s comic universe. – and the whole story the prestige that goes with it. He also teased that while the undead are often slower or even frozen in the Alaskan setting, other new threats will be revealed for the first time in the franchise.
Its most exciting story arc is not set in stone. Players will have a great deal of influence over how the story unfolds, writing a new The Walking Dead canon that cannot be reloaded, rehashed, or rewritten to better suit the lives of its characters or the preferences of its players. . As with everything in The Walking Dead, the stakes are life and death, and Facebook users will collectively help decide who lives and who dies.
Think of it like Twitch plays The Walking Dead, except all alternate narrative branches are instantly cut the moment a decision has been made. These tangential universes simply cease to exist. Rather than comparing endings – “What happened to Kenny in your story?” – players will act as a fractured community trying to come together and help characters make it out alive, while telling a singular story that will be cemented as canon and referenced in future Walking Dead media .
Will the characters go to war? Rob each other? Work to mend both figurative and literal links? Much of the story cannot yet be told, as it will be the players who will determine his path over the months-long season. “Are you saying people won’t always work together during a pandemic?” I joked. The irony that such an experiment will take place on Facebook of all places does not escape me.
While it’s not the kind of experience where players will freely control a first- or third-person character, everyone will have their own character accompanying them via an overlay. Engage enough with Last Mile and you’ll earn some sort of in-game currency that can be used to bid on different rewards, including a starring role in the series cutscenes. As a nerd of the zombie genre, the thought of my character appearing in The Walking Dead canon is certainly tantalizing, but what was even more fascinating to me was learning that his player character can die.
“In the world of The Walking Dead, we kind of have the opposite of plot armor,” Kittelsen told me. “We have, like, magnets to plot.” It’s likely that players will need to create new characters more than once over the long season, such as resetting a post-apocalyptic Tamagotchi. This player character doesn’t appear to be more than a UI addition, but it can help ramp up the drama for players looking to survive the season with just one character. More importantly, it’s a way to give each player their own face and voice in the drama, though not everyone will be among the die-hard fans who find themselves in the series itself.
This line of thinking opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities for me as a fan. What would I have done if someone like Negan or The Governor came knocking on the door of my community? Would I bow? To defend oneself? Run through the woods and leave it all behind? Having a character who can die at any time means players will have to figure out not only what is the best course for everyone, but what will be the best course for themselves. Whether motivated by selfishness, charity, pragmatism, or some other vice or virtue, crushing those numbers on a scale similar to Rival Peak’s millions of viewers feels right at home on The Walking Dead, a series who likes to chew sociopolitical brain food through the lens of… well, real brains as food.
The Walking Dead: Last Mile is set to debut exclusively on Facebook in 2022.