Devastation is All That Remains

Fans have eagerly awaited Telltale Games Season Two of The Walking Dead. The first episode doesn’t disappoint. The game has actually improved from the first season with better control and ramped emotional impact.
“All That Remains” is one of the most emotional episodes to date. After losing Lee in Season 1, Clementine has caught up with Omid and Krista, and the trio travel through the zombie wasteland. But the reunion is short lived.  Within minutes, a beloved character is dead, and Clementine is on her own to face the zombie hordes. Creating this loose so soon in the beginning of the episode truly drives home what a devastating and lonely world it is. Not only do you lose humans, but an animal friend turns foe.  The level of violence in this turn of events is quite shocking. Truly, Clementine (and the players) can trust no one, human or animal.

This episode also contains one of the most cringe worthy scenes. Between the comics, the show and the games, zombies are common place and it takes much creativity to gross viewers out. Telltale goes a different route. Instead of goring up the zombies, Clementine has to sew a gash in her own arm. Players must do this stitch by stitch listening to Clementine pain and shrinking away as if it were their own arm. I haven’t cringed this much since Rick and Glenn put on zombie guts in the first season of the TV show.

Finally, the controls have been updated allowing players to use both hands to guide the action and attacks. Gamers also move Clementine in new ways, ducking under objects and side stepping walkers. This rounds out the game play and makes the game less clunky.

The Walking Dead Season 2 is set up for success. But the biggest question is this: can Telltale produce nonbuggy episodes on a timely basis. Time delays and buggy episodes will be it’s only down fall.The-Walking-Dead-Game-Season-2-game

The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left

PSN, X-Box Live, PC

Contains spoilers

In the final installment of Telltale Games The Walking Dead, Lee’s story comes to a close and Clemtine’s is open to possibilities. The game play is the same. Point, click a button. Very little timing or precision is required. The game, like the other installments, relies on the narrative to propel it forward, but that is slow going. Players start in the “hospital” looking for Clementine and her kidnapper.

Lee’s tale ends with repetition of previous Walking Dead Storylines. This coupled by the fact that your decisions don’t change the plot, make this the least satisfying episode in the series.  In the opening, Lee is affected by his zombie bite and the party wants to remove your arm to save you. What you choose does not affect the events that transpire or how long you live. Who is in your party and whose resolutions depend on past actions but you don’t change Lee’s much. In fact, TWD fans have been presented with the limb chopping idea in every facet of the series whether it is the comic book or TV show.  Once again, fans are presenting the zombie guts theory but by now the gruesomeness has worn off.

In fact, the episode is rather boring. The scares are few and far between. The resolution of Clem’s kidnapper is in left field, and their isn’t a lot of action at all. The best part is when Lee’s storms the hotel and dealing with Lee’s demise. Gamers, who have played previous installments, know how this one ends but there is a wide open facet that is unsatisfying as a conclusion. This open ending suggests what Season 2 will tackle, but that is not certain. After all the time and energy on protecting Clem, you are not rewarded with much.

Sad and poignant at moments, this installment is the slowest and weakest entry in the series. Let’s hope that Season 2 will play more like earlier episodes.



The Walking Dead Episode Three: Long Road Ahead

PSN, X-Box Live, PC

Rated M

The latest installment of Telltale Game’s episodic video game based on The Walking Dead comic debuted to hungry fans with more deaths and more bugs. Once again, after downloading the add on, I was prompted to download a patch to correct some issues. But unfortunately this didn’t even fix all the bugs.

This is the latest string of games to release with known issues. Silent Hill HD collection was riff was with problems that have only been corrected for the PS3 version and any gamer knows the debacle with Fallout New Vegas. This is the second time this series has had an update on the first day. Episodic games, unlike TV shows and, now, movie franchises, are not created in a lump sum. This inevitability leads to release delays and apparently bug issues. The continued lateness of these games are a perpetual downfall for this series, and I don’t think the original goal of having all five episodes out before the TV version starts October 14 will not be met.

The second episode was action packed and kept you on your toes; now this episode slows down to really focus on the characters, their conflicts, and their choices. There is a lot of satisfaction for games to finally see our choices play out. The plot unfolds differently for players and their choices than it has in recent episodes making the player feel that their choices really do matter.

Lee must investigate the disappearance of supplies that Lily is not authorizing. Finding the culprit leads to a bandit raid, the troupe leaving the motel, and, ultimately, the death of a fan favorite. The issues between Lily and Kenny FINALLY come to a head, and Lee has to deal with the problem with only input from the player. The ensuing chaos leads the gang to an abandoned train and dealing with the side effects of one of their own being bit. There is plenty of zombie action, but the key to this episode is the character drama.

This has always been the biggest draw to TWD. TWD is a character driven comic, show, and game. It is our bonding with this character and the fear of loosing them that endures us to their plight in the zombie apocalypse. In this episode, we really see growth from the youngest of the crew. Ben must face complex feelings and deal with making adult choices. Clem herself matures though she has more growth to go before she’s really ready for this zombie world

The only drawback to this episode is the bugs. Early in the episode, when I made choices it cut off character conversations and there were times when Kat was holding an invisible Duck. But these were minor issues. I am still unhappy with the game play mechanism (aiming and attacking with the same hand) but I knew that wasn’t going to change. But these do not keep you from enjoying the well scripted game.

Emotionally moving and building up towards an explosive finally Long Road Ahead overcomes its bugs to provide a solid TWD tale.

The Walking Dead Episode Two: Starving for Help

PSN, X-Box Live, PC

Rated M

The eagerly anticipated second episode the Telltale Game The Walking Dead Series arrived on-line with a few issues for the Playstation 3. The errors were quickly corrected allowing PS3, X-Box and PC user to get deeper into the world of The Walking Dead. In this entry, the plot speeds up giving players more action and more gore.

Lee and crew have are approaching about trading with a local dairy farm. The farm needs gasoline to keep the electric fences running, and Lee’s crew is short on food. Lee and a small task force head out to check the safety of the farm in hopes of moving away from the motel. While the farm offers protection from the dead, it’s not so safe from the living. A band of raiders attacks Lee and the new character Mark while they are repairing the fence. The rest of the group arrives with promised of dinner from their hosts, and Lee and Kenny start checking out the barn to see if it holds secrets. Of course, it does.

The game starts three months after the last episode ended leaving a few open questions (who was the woman screaming in the last episode? What else is around their hotel) and bringing in new characters. Mark is already integrated into the group with the game starts and you constantly wonder if he is literally going to stab you in the back. But the episode quickly amps up the action (and the gore). With in minutes of starting this installment, you must to decide whether or not to cut a guy’s leg off.

Players finally get to see how their choices affect the game. Relationships strain or build based on actions you do or statements to make. Characters remember remarks from the first episode and make judgments from previous action as well as current ones.

The tension and tone are the best part of the game. The game captures the psychological and physical horror the comic series perfectly combining the thrill with a perfect mix of human and zombie violence. The thought provoking choices and the excitement of the action causes players to use their reflexes and their critical thinking skills.

The biggest downfall is that this episode is recycling material. The Walking Dead, whether comic book, TV show or novel versions, have always been fresh breaking new ground in zombie violence and pushing the human psyche to the limit. But this episode starts to repeat material the fans of the show and comic have seen before. Lily really starts to sound like Rick, and the aforementioned leg incident is straight out of Season2 of the show, albeit with the best option left out. In fact, fans of the comic will see the dairy farm’s secret twist miles away because we’ve read it before.

Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead Episode 2 Starved for Help continues the innovation of its predecessor and kicks up the action a notch. Though several of the ideas have used in other formats, the episode is enjoyable and keeps players on the edge of their seat.