The Walking Dead: The Game – Episode 2 Review
I will go on record here and say I haven’t been the biggest supporter of the XBLA. I guess the old skool gamer in me likes to open the box, take out a manual and flick through that before placing the shiny new disc in my console. I know what your thinking, ‘youre a geek surely DLC is the future.. You love the future’, and you would be very right in that thought. Up until now I just haven’t been ready to say goodbye to discs but The Walking Dead is helping me through that.
The first episode introduced me to survivor Lee and the little girl he finds along the way, Clementine. My expectations were low upon downloading the game.. I Mean this was DLC, if it was any good it would be a disc. How wrong I was. The first episode wasn’t perfect but it was a hell of a lot better than a lot of titles I’ve played this year and it did a fantastic job of making me care for the characters.
The game is a game ruled by choice and consequence. Your decisions directly effect the outcome of the story with each decision being made under aggressive timings. For that reason it becomes instinctive, if you are absorbed into the story you play like you would in real life. Credit has to go to the developers for a subtle change to game design which in my opinion stops people opting just for the good or bad option. In fact I don’t think the game even makes that determination. There is no right and wrong in the zombie apocalypse there is just a sense of vagueness.
As the second in the series this is the first time we get to see the effects of our choices in the previous game. The game kicks off three months after the 1st and its clear from the off who is an ally and who may be a problem in the future. The game also opens with a grisly scene that had my fiancé looking for the safest place to chunder. The protracted nature of the scene made it all the more unsettling. The open 20 mins include that scene and various other moral dilemmas in the camp. The game changes when the St John brothers stumble across the Motel and offer food in exchange for Gas for their generator. It is really from here that the suspense and suspicion really kick up a notch, as you start to wonder is there something going on or am I just paranoid? The build up is slow and deliberate and I would liken it to a kettle coming to the boil. I don’t want to say much more as my other half and I had a great time speculating as to what, if anything was going on. Im disappointed to say that my guess was wrong and my other half had it sussed from the first guess. All I will say is the pay off is darkly triumphant
There are some technical issues that do harm the experience some what. I found the sound effects a bit off which was distracting at times. One of the opening scenes has Clem kick a football against a Barrel and the timing of the sound effects are not even close to the animations. There is some stuttering whilst walking from scene to scene and some cutscenes experience some game breaking stammering. Its little niggles like this that stops the game from becoming a fully engrossing experience. I hope future episodes can just cut these little errors out of the finished product.
From the moment I downloaded the game until 1am I played, gripped.. terrified… shocked. The game features almost no zombies yet remains a very unsettling experience. I thought I knew myself, I thought I knew my character, but through the game I found myself unconsciously picking the exact option I would chose in that circumstance and I was very surprised at the results. Characters I cared about, people I trusted and cared what they thought of me had very different opinions on Lee by the end of this story. At the end I wasn’t even sure who my character was anymore and was desperate for episode 3 to find out. I will definitely be in the DLC queue for the next instalment and would highly recommend this game to everyone.
4 out of 5