The Walking Dead – Season 2 Episode 3 – Game Review and Analysis
By Christopher Jester
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Distributor: Skybound Entertainment
Writer: Nick Breckon
Engine: Telltale Tool
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation Vita, Ouya, iOS
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Not nearly as strong as the last outing, The Walking Dead Season Two Episode Three – In Harm’s Way is still a great episode as should be expected from Telltale’s Games. By the end of the episode, you will have likely made two major decisions that will manifest through the entire series. These tough decisions affect the core of who Clementine is, and both are so entangled in psychological emotion that depending on the choice you make as Clem it will affect how every character in this story will look at her from this point out.
This last act of The Walking Dead may very well be the best of the series. It leaves on a high note that makes better the previous three acts of this episode. This episode opens with Clementine and the others captured by Carver. His goal is to punish those who left his “family” before and welcome the new faces into his regime, but not without knowing who the boss is. This leaves many faces scarred, bruised, and fatally destroyed.
With most of those consequences lying in the hands of Clementine, Telltale surely gives you numerous choices throughout the game that paid off in this episode and some that will surely come back to haunt you in the future episodes. And that is the overall tone In Harm’s Way leaves off of. While some of the ending ends with this sense of freedom, it tone turns into the help lines that is reverberates so well in the Walking Dead.
The drawback to this particular episode is that the scope is so limited. Unlike previous episodes where there has been some travel involved, In Harm’s Way takes place 75% in the “prison yard” where Clementine and her new family are confined. This lowers the expansion feeling found in its predecessors, and lowers how much room the developer’s had to create new areas to explore.
Now, that also assisted the development of Bill Carver who turns out to be one evil son of a bitch. This episode’s greatest strength lies on the psychological affects that it has on the characters in the game but also on the player themselves. Carver benefits in developing that psychological affect because he is so unpredictable. In one situation, Clementine looks to volunteer to save one character by taking the blame for them but ultimately dooms another character. In many ways, In Harm’s Way is the scariest of the episodes but you have no idea as a player how your choices will play out on others. It is dark, gritty, and unforgiving. This is what makes In Harm’s Way the gloomiest episode of both seasons.
The interactivity found in other episodes are skim here. Much of it relies on the interaction between characters and how Clementine must find hope within her family. As Carver looms of their last bit of hope, Clementine is faced with trusting those who may have allegiances and other responsibilities elsewhere. So while there is very little opportunity to play in this episode, it is likely the closest you’ll get to these characters. Where In Harm’s Way succeeds the most is humanizing the development of Clementine and the characters that she affects around her.
While there is very little zombie killing in this episode, Telltale’s The Walking Dead spent a vast amount of time finding ways to make you empathize with the characters of this particular universe. The interactivity is limited In Harm’s Way but that does not take away from how you interact with Clementine and the development of those characters around her. Bill Carver is a villain unlike any other and that makes the fear and uncertainty of each decision is the more tantalizing. As dreary as this episode is, it is one of the more powerfully written episodes in a game… period. Many of those choices given to the player by this amazing writing team leaves Clementine and others hurt, scarred, or worse as they head into what should be a desolate but influential episode 4 Amid The Ruins.
PunchDrunkGamer.com’s Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
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