When was the last time you played a game on Facebook? Well, Meta is hoping to tempt you back to its platform with an interesting prospect: a daily, choice-based narrative experience taking place over the course of the next four months, titled The Walking Dead: Last Mile.
A massively interactive live event (MILE), the project is a collaboration between publisher Genvid, which specialises in these part-game, part-interactive stream, part-live show creations, with design and narrative input from The Walking Dead's team at Skybound and funding from Facebook.
The big sell is that Last Mile is a new chapter of The Walking Dead's lore, which will unfold across the next couple of months based upon decisions made by players, with the resulting narrative becoming franchise "canon" in line with the original comic books. And for fans of Telltale's The Walking Dead games, there's a clear influence in art style and design language, if not gameplay.
How does it all work? Well, on Facebook - either the desktop site or via the Facebook smartphone app - you'll be able to log on and create a character which becomes part of Last Mile's story. Each day you'll be able to take part in individual mini-games and collaborative streams (think a bit like Twitch Plays Pokémon, Genvid has said) where you generate Influence Points to spend on impacting the game's ongoing narrative.
Each week, the results of these narrative choices will be revealed and the game's story will progress, with the tale so far available to join in at any time, and regular recaps via live interactive streams hosted by actresses Yvette Nicole Brown and Felisha Day.
All of this begins today, 11th July, with a kickoff stream and the start of the game's open beta period which will showcase a four-week Prologue.
Following this first month, the game will then break for a fortnight while the experience is further polished, before the project's three main month-long chapters kick off, showcasing "one of the most epic storylines within The Walking Dead universe" which will wrap up in November. Oh, and the whole thing is free, paid for by Facebook, without any microtransactions or prompts to spend money.
Last Mile's setting is rural Alaska, a locale relatively fresh to the franchise. The action will centre on a coastal community named Prosper Landing, which is split between characters in its main village and those based out at the local power plant. Each group has separate goals and different strengths and weaknesses. The question is, as winter sets in, resources dwindle, Walkers descend and bandits threaten everything, can the two groups find a way to survive?
The answer to that, it seems, is entirely up to the audience - and there's a crop of characters potentially up for the chop each week via life-changing decisions played out in animated story scenes, directed by your collective decision-making. You can also try and get your own character featured in these sequeneces - although you risk having them get offed also.
Genvid suggests 15 minutes of interaction with the game each day will "generate enough Influence Points for you to impact key turning points throughout each week" - a relatively significant amount of time when totalled up over the weeks and months to come.
Mini-games shown during a brief presentation on the game included a circuit-connection task, with different tiles each time you play, and activities where you join others trying to help characters complete tasks like fishing or preparing food. However enticing the project's wider story may end up being, it feels like these scenarios are where the game's whole concept may hinge - and whether the experience can remain fresh for those logging in to gain Influence Points day after day, week after week, month after month.
For those that do, Genvid promises new story content and activities every day, with additional activities opening up over time. As for the story, you'll get to vote on narrative branches big and small, while watching the "TV-quality" interactive livestreams will earn additional Influence Points. Worth loading Facebook for?
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