- Editor's Rating
- Excellent story
- Improved puzzles
- Minor technical issues like small bouts of slowdown occur frequently
Episodes Two and Three of The Walking Dead continue Telltale's well-written and emotionally moving story of Lee Everett, with minor tweaks to improve puzzles and gameplay.
Back in April, Telltale Games introduced the first episode of The Walking Dead, its five-episode video game series taking place in the world established by the comics (and TV show), to great success. Unlike the TV show, The Walking Dead video game tells its own story, an original tale about an all-new protagonist in The Walking Dead lore, Lee Everett.
The episodes, which are available for $5 apiece on PC, Mac, XBLA, and PS3 (or $25 for the entire season on PC/Mac) chronicle Lee’s attempts to survive in the wake of the zombie apocalypse while also caring for a seemingly orphaned child, Clementine.
So far, Telltale hasn’t quite stuck to its word of releasing episodes on a monthly basis, instead opting for something closer to a bi-monthly release schedule. Episode Two, “Starved For Help”, was released at the end of June, while Episode Three, “Long Road Ahead”, was released at the end of August. But they’re both here now and it’s been worth the wait, as Telltale continues to impress with a video game series that more than does justice to the source material.
Story Above All
Episode Two picks up three months after the end of Episode One, with Lee, Clementine, and the crew of survivors still living in the barricaded lot of a motel. There is one new addition to their party, an Air Force veteran named Mark who, as dialogue eventually reveals, provided the survivors with a substantial cache of food and supplies that has kept them well-stocked. But their stash is beginning to dwindle and the zombies, combined with the growing threat of bandits, are making it increasingly unsafe for them to leave the confines of the motel to gather more supplies. In their desperation, the survivors eventually seek refuge at a nearby farm, the St. John Dairy.
I don’t wish to spoil any of the game’s surprises for you, but after the events of Episode Two, the survivors eventually find themselves hitting the road again in the RV around the beginning of Episode Three, finally leaving the confines of the motel behind. It’s not clear what the protagonists’ endgame is, especially seems that they don’t even really know themselves, but they begin traveling with the intent to eventually make it to the coast and head out to sea.
As was the case with the first episode in the series, Episodes Two and Three are very serious business. All of your choices, both in terms of your dialogue and your actions, alter the story and dictate the events that unfold, often determining who lives and dies. The body count is ridiculously high, so much so that the player eventually comes to realize that nobody is safe. A character that was introduced mere minutes ago could be just as much at risk of dying as someone who’s been with the crew since day one. But violence, blood, and gore aside, it’s also a mature game that values highlighting human nature and rising tensions in these dire situations just as much as it values its action sequences.
What I particularly enjoyed about the narrative in Episodes Two and Three is that they each had their own distinct feel to them. Episode Two, for instance, plays out like a scary movie. Tension abounds and there is some seriously horrifying subject matter by the game’s end, but perhaps the most important element was the episode’s pacing.
Again, without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that throughout the entire episode, you get the feeling that something is amiss, that not everything is quite what it seems. But every time you think you’re about to hit the big reveal, it’s not there; you’ve only gotten closer. When Telltale finally drops the hammer, it does so in grand fashion and you’re absolutely appalled by what you discover.
Episode Three, meanwhile, is dramatic, moving, and emotionally taxing. It deals with some very heavy subject matter that, while disturbing and upsetting, is handled in a mature manner that prevents the game from feeling like Telltale was simply going for shock value. Instead, you’re left with a feeling of genuine sadness in the wake of the episode’s events.
Many of the series’ decisions give you the opportunity to benefit yourself at the expense of others or vice versa, but suffice to say that there is no happy ending for anybody in “Long Road Ahead”. No matter what decisions you make regarding the climax of the story, nobody wins.
I know it sounds like a severely depressing experience and an odd way to recommend the game, but this really is a ringing endorsement. People should play The Walking Dead for the same reasons that people should watch movies like Precious or A Single Man: it may be depressing at times, but it’s still something you can enjoy and appreciate because it’s storytelling at its best.