Game Review: The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 5: No Going Back

For the record I never like to write reviews of video games too quickly, which is probably detrimental to me as it seems like only the first ten reviews on the Internet get read.  I hate that, by the way – now that EVERYBODY has the Internet it’s a giant race by the no-lifers to be the first one to get a review up.  But it’s now time to discuss the conclusion to The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 5.  Again I will be trying to keep spoilers to a minimum however there are spoilers in this review for the entire first season (game) and episodes 1-4 so if you don’t want to be spoiled click the back button and do not return until you’re done with all of that. Those of you continuing on can find a discussion thread for this game that DOES contain spoilers (if you want to discuss it further or do not care about being spoiled) on our forums by CLICKING HERE.

Well that's just dismal looking.

Well that's just dismal looking.

The conclusion to this season of Telltale Games’ the Walking Dead is upon us, after a wait that left us completely in the dark at the conclusion of the previous episode.  In the previous episode we found ourselves in the middle of a Mexican standoff with a group of Russians in the middle of the snow with a dead-mother-turned-walker holding a baby.  Gunfire happened and we didn’t know what would happen next.

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Fortunately (and obviously) Clementine survives – otherwise we wouldn’t be here in this episode.  This episode deals with the fallout from losing another one of the group’s own (Rebecca who died following child birth complications and immediately turned), the struggle of winter, and the mental breakdown of the group.  Also, rather unfortunately our comrade, Arvo, returns so we get to deal with that little Harry Potter looking scumbag.  In fact we start getting those lovely “four choices” we are used to and can choose to be nice to the little asshole or choose to be as cruel as possible.

Arvo does not represent the 50 stars and the 13 bars so I abused the little bastard.

Arvo does not represent the 50 stars and the 13 bars so I abused the little bastard.

I personally took the “WE THE PEOPLE” route and was mean to him every chance I got.  Fuck that guy.  With an absence of zombies to abuse in this episode (there are very few zombie moments in this episode), the only person I had to abuse is Arvo, and so he gets to have all my aggression.

Tensions will rise and people will die, and once again how many people do so is rather determinant by your choices and actions – Once the action starts in this game, choices start making some serious impact.  But my problem is even though it’s a tense game, it isn’t quite the thrilling conclusion we got one season ago when an infected Lee cut off his arm to try to prevent himself from turning, fought through a swarm of walkers to save Clementine from a psychotic Steve Buscemi look-a-like only and on the way out saw her zombified parents, and had no choice but to tell Clementine she either had to cuff him and leave him or shoot him.

The emotional rollercoaster isn’t quite there and is instead replaced by a healthy dose of “who do you trust?”  The concluding episode of this season isn’t even so much about Clementine as it is about one man:  Kenny.

Kenny is the only member of Clementine’s original group left.  And after having his orbital socket crushed by Carver, losing his new wife in an even more gruesome fashion than he lost his previous one, and now realizing that, yes, Duck was a retard, and it’s Kenny’s fault for raising him that way so he wants to make up for it with this new child, Kenny has been through the ringer.  He looks like 10 pounds of dog shit in a 5 pound bag and the zombie apocalypse is wearing him down.  You’ll find that it’s Kenny vs. the World and you can either stand with the guy or against the guy and your decisions in dealing with Kenny and also the rest of the group will decide the ultimate fate of both Clementine and the baby.

So you find yourself in the situation of asking yourself:  what is more important to you – loyalty or common sense? Or IS loyalty common sense?  Or is it craziness?  You’ll have a lot of surprise moments and twists and turns but the major factor in the final episode of Telltale’s masterpiece is the fact that it has 5 possible outcomes and once again there are several characters whose fates are left unknown by the end of this season making you wonder if there will be a return appearance down the line.

On the subject of Kenny, I am glad he’s back simply because of the fact that many people criticized that the “new group” of the second season just wasn’t all that interesting or as fleshed out as our first group of survivors.  Kenny brings in a factor of “we have history” to the game and we’ve seen that “having history” in other Walking Dead incarnations (the comics, the novels, the television series) can have profound consequences, either good, or bad.  The fact that much of this season has centered around Clementine’s interactions with “the only other person left” whom she started off with has been great.  Are my decisions in dealing with the man biased?  You’re damn right they are.  And Kenny was the perfect character to do that with as half the players last season enjoyed the guy and the other half couldn’t stand the son of a bitch.  And where you stand regarding him in the end will have very life-altering consequences for Clementine.

In Telltale’s other popular choose-your-own-adventure series, The Wolf Among Us, we had about 4 ways to conclude the game but they all led to the same result at the finish of the game.  Not so much here in the final episode of Season 2 – the endings are all varied enough that it leaves you wondering if you’re even going to be playing as Clementine next season.  The endings are all different enough that it brings to question if the recently announced “season 3” will be following the very divergent paths everything can take (which would be VERY interesting, I might add).  Of course likely they will find a way to make all those divergent paths lead to one result to start off the next season, but it’d be pretty cool if your ending shaped your beginning this time around.

And the conclusion to this series will make you feel something – not the same “something” you felt when Clementine said her goodbyes to Lee, but it will make you wonder “what now?  What next?”  And in that regard Telltale Games is doing a good job of keeping our attention and our interest.  It’s also up in the air as to whether or not we’ll get a bonus episode a-la last season’s “400 Days” but to be fair, “400 days” didn’t have as much an effect on the game as we would have all liked.  I feel like next time around Telltale is going to have to give us a little bit more than that.

Ultimately, and as a whole, Season 2 of the Walking Dead was a lot of fun and a great perspective playing as Clementine and while the final episode of the game felt like it was on auto-pilot for about 75% percent of it, the 25% they left us with was in our complete control and leaves us wanting answers.  Here’s to hoping that this isn’t the last of our run with Clementine and that we’ve got another journey ahead.  Go into this one with an open mind but do not go into it expecting the tearjerker of the previous season.  

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