Okay, same deal as the last two episodes of “The Wolf Among Us”- played episode 2 of this when it came out, didn’t review it, decided to wait for episode 3 to come out. Okay, let’s get into it:
Episode 2: A House Divided
This episode focuses on Clem’s new group deciding they need to get the hell away from the cabin they’re currently staying in after the previously mentioned antagonist “Carver” turns up to recon the area while everyone but Clem and Sarah are absent. A key part of the story is the emotional return of a friendly face for Clementine that I won’t spoil in this part of the review at least, and despite having it accidentally revealed to me it really packed a punch as the stand-out part of the episode. The story in this part strikes a balance between warm, safe (as safe as one can be in this situation) moments with character interaction and more harsh sections when the group are in danger, and here said sections seem to directly alternate, though that’s not a bad thing. As well as the aforementioned returning character I feel this episode and the next one (I’ll get to that) really demonstrate how interesting Sarah is, both as a character and as a catalyst for gameplay elements and choices. Basically she’s a fifteen year old girl who is very sheltered and naive, and has to be constantly looked after lest she get herself or anyone else killed. This responsibility is often passed over from her father to Clem, and it leads to some rather interesting situations. She can often be a burden and you have to decided whether you want to be cold and uncaring with her, or be more sympathetic. Gameplay wise it’s still predominantly exploring and dialogue choices, with quick time events being used sparingly for when zombies attack, which isn’t too often. What’s most important here of course, are the choices you have to make. Fortunately this episode has some pretty strong ones. Though I feel the choices are less one-sided for me than the ones in “The Wolf Among Us” (By no means the game’s fault, I’m just following a pretty clear path that I’ve made for myself), I do still find a lot of them quite easy to make, at least some times. Still, they’re well-implemented as always, and the short amount of time you often have to make the choices still really adds to them.
Overall, a good episode.
Episode 3: In Harm’s Way
This episode is pretty intense, at least after a somewhat slow start. [SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 2] After being captured by Michael Madsen (Carver) in the last episode and losing a few members in the process [SPOILERS END] Clem and the gang are hauled over to Carver’s base- a big, D.I.Y/Garden Centre place. Its residents include whatever “400 days” characters you convinced to leave at the end of the DLC, and I must say it is nice to see where they ended up, even if the majority of them are arseholes now. Clem and friends spend the majority of the episode being forced by Carver to earn his trust through copious amounts of manual labour, all while forming a plan to escape. I said at the start of this section that the episode has a slow start, but I wouldn’t call that a bad thing. The episode has a lot of set-up with the group forming their plan, and it’s worth it for the pay-off at the end. The ending of this episode is fantastic both in content and as a clifhanger, and contains one of the most brutal things I’ve seen in games for a while, and certainly in “The Walking Dead” games. It all hinges on what I’d consider to be one of the most important choices in either series, and arguably the most important choice in Season 2 so far- one that will come to define Clem for however long she has left (and please let that be a long time- I already lost Lee, I can’t lose Clem too). Elsewhere the choices are up to their usual standard, with at least two stand-outs. Something I noticed on a more negative side was that there were a few dialogue options where the time limit went down so slowly it didn’t seem to be moving at all, in fact it may not have been. I don’t know whether this was a glitch or intentional, but if the latter is the case then it’s unhelpful. A key part of the choices in this game is that you often have a short amount of time to decide, which ramps up the panic and makes them harder. Granted the dialogue choices aren’t the most important, but it’s still worth noting. The “Action” scenes are again used sparingly in this episode, which makes sense given the setting for a lot of it.
At this point I prefer “The Wolf Among Us” out of Tell Tale’s two on-going projects, but “The Walking Dead” is not to be sniffed at. It’s carrying on the great work that “Season 1” started, and is really worth looking into, as long as you can take the violence and sheer despair of it all.
By James Lambert