The Walking Dead, Episode 5, No Time Left
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS EPISODES
And so, the first season of Telltale Games The Walking Dead comes to an end, in an emotional, cathartic, highly satisfying installment, that just might be the game of the year.
Picking up right where Episode 4 left off, Lee is on a mission to rescue Clementine from her kidnappers but he’s been bitten and only has a little time left to do so. I have never been more emotionally invested in a game as I have been in this one; so credit to the makers for being able to craft a believable relationship between Lee and Clem to make this episode feel personal not just to your character, but to the player as well.
More so than any other episode, the choices you’ve made previously (not just this episode, but all the way back in Episode 1) will come back to help or haunt you. Any time you noted a ‘____ will remember that’ but thought it inconsequential…could be the very thing that shapes how this episode, and season, ends for you.
Once again, the choices you make don’t really affect the outcome of the game much (all players will play more or less the same game) but what they do affect is your own soul. Bold statement, maybe, but this is the only game that has ever made me feel guilty for making a certain choice. No more so than in this episode where the decisions you make come thicker and faster than they have in any of the previous episodes, and most of them are life and death decisions. You don’t have time to think them through, you just have to react.
Everything about the episode is a triumph; the plot, which brings together various strands from every episode to date; the music, which at certain points swells and may cause you to tear up a little; the voice acting, which is full of emotion and will genuinely break your heart at points. Yes, the little niggles from the previous episodes are still present and correct here; some frame rate problems, slight juddering, out of time lip sync and music cutting out. But they’re all minor quibbles that don’t spoil the atmosphere or the mood in what is the best game I’ve played this year.
Oh, and stick around after the credits. If you can see through the tears.