Wednesday, 11 July 2012

GAME REVIEW: The Walking Dead - Episode 2

So, I reviewed the first episode of this episodic series a while back, so I’m not going to tread old ground here and explain the game mechanics as it’s exactly the same game, I am going to talk about the escalation of the plot. 
Lee, just before trying to reason with the zombie.
I’ve recently started reading the Walking Dead comic series, and I have watched the television series (my point of entry to this world), and along with this game it’s fast becoming my favourite series overall. Every single aspect of the Walking Dead brand has been nothing less than excellent. And in each medium, the trend continues that the shit hits the fan with alarming regularity. The second episode of the game, subtitled Starved for Help, is no different.

This episode went to places story wise that actually shocked me. Perhaps if I had read this type of story in the comic series (which this type of story, I’m reliably informed, does actually occur) I wouldn’t have been as surprised but as it stands, this was a real kick to the gut moment. Upon stumbling onto a dairy farm run by two brothers and their mother, one you’re your group is wounded and gets treated to by the mother. Later on, after you’ve helped out around the farm SPOILERS you find out that instead of helping him, she has cut off his legs to use for food and that they have been eating people in lieu of livestock. END SPOILERS It’s a dark and twisted aspect to an already grim tale, and it works tremendously. 

The second episode is easily more cinematic than the first, as if the developers had more confidence this time round and threw in a lot more directorial tics. The opening scene ending on a wide shot is beautiful, despite the fact it involves someone getting eaten by the undead. The rain soaked denouement to the dairy farm chapter is stunning also, and allows for some neat lighting tricks, that wring some scares out of shadows. And the final flashback scene is both creepy, intriguing and just plain awesome. 

Only badness lies up the stairs
The choice system comes into play once more obviously, except this time the choices are a lot more subtle than in the first episode. Whereas episode one had you choosing between who to save (Carly or Doug), this time round the choices are much more difficult. For instance, at the beginning you have to decide to split your food rations for that day between the whole camp. Do you keep it for those who need their strength so they can build defences, or do you give it to the kids who need it more? And again, near the end you find a seemingly abandoned car with lots of food in the back. The decision is do you take all of it, some or none. The owners of the car might still be around so can you live with yourself knowing you’ve taken all their food. Again, it depends on what kind of player you are whether you take the food or not, but the fact that I agonised over the decision is proof that after only 4 hours of gameplay, Telltale Games have got me so invested in this world. And that I (as with all games that give you a choice of what kind of player you want to be) wanted to make Lee a good and decent person, even in a post zombie apocalypse world.

However, I did take all the food. 
But I felt really bad about it. 
5 stars.

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