Reviewing The Walking Dead – The Game: Starved for Help and Long Road Ahead

11 Apr

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If this is the first that you’re reading of ‘Reviewing The Walking Dead’, then you should probably start from the beginning. At the end of episode one we left the group just outside of Macon, Lee’s hometown. Here, the group held up at a small motor inn just off of the interstate and began constructing fortifications around the car park. It’s here that episode two begins, at the side of the dusty road in the run down motor inn. The group had been struggling for survival for the past few months but their struggle was slightly lamented by their discovery of a supply truck. However, after months of waiting for salvation the food had begun to run out and it’s finally coming down to rations. Bandits threaten the camp and their limited supplies and the daunting prospect of starvation is plaguing the survivors’ days.

The episode opens with some grim sequences, the player is thrown straight back into the mix of things after the harsh decisions Lee had to make back in the first instalment. There is no rest for the wicked, especially in apocalyptic Georgia it seems. Just as the situation seems at its worst, with no hope for a positive outcome, the group are faced with an opportunity. A local farm owner approaches Lee and offers to swap food for fuel, an offer that the group couldn’t possibly refuse. Even though half of the survivors distrust the farm owners, it’s up to Lee to choose how best to go ahead with their proposal. However, all is not as it seems. It’s here, on the farm, that Lee and Clementine are allowed to bond in, what seems to be, a safe environment. Fixing a tree swing for the children gives Lee a nice break from the hustle and bustle of a life avoiding the flesh eaters and gives Clementine the opportunity to be a kid. It’s moments like these that Telltale Games do so perfectly. The ability to highlight such precious moments in a game that could have so easily been about cracking skulls and snappy, rotting teeth is a real triumph on Telltale’s part.

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But, these moments are short lived when the crushing realisation of the true situation comes to light. It doesn’t take long for the idyllic country farm to become shrouded in darkness – in true The Walking Dead style. It’s a real testament to game development that Telltale are able to combine beautiful sentiments with sick and gruesome elements just moments before, in just a short two hour game. But the episode never feels crowded or rushed, everything just fits.

The group are eventually forced off of the farm and back on to the road in episode three. It’s in this episode that Lee realises the cost of survival. Lee will be faced with the toughest decisions to date. In the first few episodes the line between black and white was relatively clear. Choices were tough to make, but the correct decision was usually not far away, hidden amongst the possible lies and deceit. In episode three, however, everything seems to be covered by a grey haze. Right and wrong is no longer clear and I really began to empathise with Lee and the rest of the group. I felt sad when I had to make a snap decision that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I felt physically torn when a clear choice wasn’t visible. I spent much of this episode wishing that there was a ‘do nothing’ option, so that I could take Lee and bury his head in the sand. There is no right choice, every action has a consequence.

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It was in this episode that I began to regret previous decisions. I had lost the people that I had sided with in previous episodes and I was, to a large extent, isolated from the group. In my play through Kenny was no longer my friend, I had pushed him away with Lee’s previous decisions and actions. However, it was in this episode that I wished I was closer to Kenny, not because of my lack of friends in the group, but because of the horrific nature of one single event in the episode. No spoilers here, but please, make sure you play the episode; you’ll know which part I’m talking about. The group will be significantly smaller by the mid point of the episode but, have no fear, Lee will meet some new faces towards the end. These characters become just as important as the ones that were lost. It’s incredible that these new characters seem so deep and developed, even though they have only been in the game for a matter of moments.

So there you go; a quick roundup of the next two episodes. I’ve tried my best to avoid spoilers, so go and buy the game if you want to know more! Be weary of the decisions that you make, though. You may end up regretting them later on. I guess that’s a lesson for life as well as for playing this game.

By Alecs Pilik

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