The second entry into Telltales Games’s newest franchise arrives with some gruesome scenes, explicit narrative, and tough decisions. Was it all fun and games? WARNING: Potential Spoilers.
The Walking Dead Video Game, Episode 2, releases without wasting anytime in the continued story of Lee Everett and his survivors’ journey through an overwhelming horde of cadaverous cannibals. The stakes are higher, with an ever mounting tension that seems to swell with every conversation. With spills, thrills, gasps, and holy-s%#@ moments left and right; TWDE2 delivers a non-stop adrenaline ride that leaves you pining for Episode 3. To wait, is agony.
Three months separate us from the aftermath left in E1. Our group of heroes are battered, and starved, with a will to live that hangs by a thread. The astriction between you and your fellow comrades is even more prevalent in “Starved for Help,” which couldn’t be a better title for this game.
If you thought decision making in E1 was difficult, be prepared for the most arduous choices in the series yet. For example, the opening sequence pins Lee, and new character Mark, between a trapped leg, a rock, and zombies. With a band of undead headed your way, you can must decide whether or not to free a helpless survivor out of a bear trap before the bloodless Z-Men get him first. Axing through the chained trap yields no results, and the device itself is rigged without a release latch. WIth the walking corpses inching closer, and his leg still unfreed, what option do you have left? Use your imagination. Yea, I did that.
Starved for Help brings a new foe to the forefront of the apocalypse: Bandits. It’s bad enough defending against the Z-Freaks, but now you must fend off fellow humans, bent on pillaging for their own survival. Can you blame them? It creates a welcomed sense of unnerving tension, and realism to the story, which brings out the true colors of our star cast, as desperate times call for desperate measures.
The flow of the story is much more fast paced than E1. The action, and conversations all carry more weight, and the intent to choose wisely becomes even more valuable. For the most part, each choice affects the very next scene, which really forces you to pay attention to every detail shown, and uttered. No stone can be left unturned or your choices can have grisly outcomes, as sides are taken, and trust is formed, or withered.
This escalation in causality rolls along like a rollercoaster before its inevitable rapid descent. By the final act of Episode 3, the gauntlet falls, and falls with swift might. Not only are your QTEs more challenging, but the s%#@ has the hit the fan so hard, that your only choice is to suck it up, and prepare for the most FUBAR’d damage control imaginable. I’m sorry, but there will be blood, and Daniel Day Lewis is still a raving lunatic.
Strong writing, equaled with superb voice acting, once again proves how immersive a game can become when its narrative delivers exceptional results. Throw in some shocking gameplay that will affect the fate of characters, and ultimately, the story; and you have yourself a caught in an causatum of epic proportions.
Like any good chapter, or Lost episode, you’re left with more questions than answers. Where does the group go from here? How is each person affected by the relentless turmoil, and travails of a Zombie apocolypse; let alone the most recent events? One thing's for certain, Lee’s group gets no more breathing room than Rick Grimes’s democracy-less camp. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Final Grade: A