Maybe not the wisest idea to start and finish this latest instalment of The Walking Dead before bed but my goodness, this series has now gone up several gears in one episode alone.
Thankfully telltale games have more interest in creating much fuller, more rounded characters in their perception of survival horror, something that the TV series clearly lacks. This makes decisions in this episode almost too hard to make. Even though our new group of survivors are very fresh to us, there have already been branches and strands set amongst them which peel off, or inevitable break down as you make your choices. The writers know the importance of setting Clementine between two tough decisions at times, knowing that whichever strand is neglected will ultimately come back to bite us, no pun intended. I found myself apologising to the screen or half thinking of quitting to the dashboard because I now understood the importance of a certain choice. But this is what makes this series utterly encapsulating.
Within a scene from episode two you are faced with a character trying to enter a home you do not own whilst your new group are away in search of survivors. This beautiful conception of trying to figure out a character whilst having to make snap decisions and stay alive and not give too much away whilst trying to figure…well you see the myriad of strands that exist here and why I’ll still be wondering whether I made the right choice long into my zombie nightmares.
With episode 1 doing some of the groundwork for the characterisation of the group, the plot could afford to be moved on, which usually means ‘hey lets overpower a certain area within brain gobblers so they have to leave’ but in this case a much more prevalent danger exists for the group. As with Lee’s character in season 1, there are historical events of importance which you are not privy too but need to fill in the blanks, do you trust the people you are with to get you to safety? Or are they really the people you should most fear?
I have to say that the QTE action scenes still become more of background filler, even with the inception of varied events. This is more a testament to the story creation, but something which could still do with a zippier idea, these action event still seem to give the game engine its worst issues, although I’ve almost become accustomed to the jittery nature of slamming the back of a hammer into the bridge of a zombies nose, doesn’t quite have the same affect though. The detective scenes are still rewarding and intrinsically linked to the backbone of your relationships with other characters. I can appreciate it’s tough to align the story choice element with the action but they still feel far apart.
As with previous episodes, you are again left with the decision of either protecting a character or hanging them out to dry. This would be easy if it was Carl from the TV series, I’d have bludgeoned him myself many moons ago, god I hate his face….anyway Nick on the other hand has seen a lot, not to go into specifics (spoilers and all) but there are reasons behind his rash decision making, which is what makes it tough to just let his fate be decided. As the group find refuge from the people tracking them they find shelter in the wood atop an old ski resort. Here there is food, heat, lights and even a Christmas tree. A beautiful setting that we know is ultimately going to come crashing down around us.
It is again up to Clementine to bridge the gap between new survivors and your existing group to make decisions you can see having a domino effect down the tracks. I already want to know what happens to the decisions I have made but then this is the frustrating episodic beauty of telltale games, they’ve got me and I just want more.