The Walking Dead: Episode 3

I have not reviewed episode 1 or 2 of The Walking Dead, but suffice to say they are good enough to warrant a continued purchase. The Walking Dead video game is an adventure game made by Telltale games. It is based in the same world as The Walking Dead television show/comic book, and some characters make cameos, but it is otherwise unrelated to the main plot of the show/book. This is an episodic game that spans five episodes, and an eluded to “second season”. The original plan was to release a new episode each month, but the scheduling has not worked as planned and episodes have not been released on time. So, now we are on the third chapter of the series, and after two critical successes it looks like Telltale is on a role with the series.

Better relationship than most games could ever hope to have.

Point and click adventure games are a dying breed. These were once popular on the PC, but expanding technology has made them increasingly obsolete. Fortunately for fans of the genre, digital distribution networks have revived many flagging genres and games like The Walking Dead have been paving the way for a point and click renaissance. This doesn’t mean all of the problems with point and click adventure games have disappeared or that Telltale found a new way around it, but simply that these games are now cheaper and thus safer to make.

This is surprisingly mundane.

These inherent genre problems are also where the Walking Dead falters the most. Gameplay rarely feels like much thought went into it and this is very apparent in Episode 3. Early on in the episode it seemed like there was going to be more action and reflexes required in this chapter, but that quickly fizzles out, and the game quickly loses ideas for things to get the player to do. A minor puzzle half way through the content is fairly boring and the game lulls for quite awhile. It does pick up near the end, but by that point it hardly matters.

Meet Chuck, the crazy hobo with the heart of gold?

It isn’t so much the story but the character interactions that set this game apart. Each character is extremely well acted, enough to overlook each character’s obvious stock personality. Characters are easy to love and easy to hate (Sometimes both), and this episode really pushes several of these actors to their best performances yet. Lee, the central character is as completely likeable as usual, and Clementine, his young charge, is as adorable as ever, but other characters develop to a much better degree. After the last chapter, Lily, the “leader” of the group, has been going down the drain, mentally, which causes a whole lot of mess to fall on the hapless survivors. The story is pretty basic zombie fare, but the way it’s told definitely sets it apart.

Yes Kenny is still a tool.

What is unfortunate with Episode 3 is the lack of any real consequence in the game. Chapter 1 had you choose a person to save. Chapter 2 was full of tense choices, but all of the choices for 3 are very straightforward and provide no real sense of consequence. Characters get killed aplenty, but not because of anything you did or did not do. It is in this middle chapter, that I realized how little the player actually affects the story. While the interactions are good, and the gameplay has a semblance of choice and consequence, you would be a fool to think that any of your actions will change the game in any meaningful way. This is a weakness; although, it is justifiable due to the scope of the game, which would require an obscene amount of work to make consequences meaningful.

I’m not falling for that again.

Chapter 3 is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, it delivers some of the most emotional moments in the game so far. On the other hand, the linear nature of this episode, coupled with the fact that very little happens can take the player out of the narrative quickly. It is important to match story with gameplay and Telltale fell down this time on the gameplay front. That being said, this chapter definitely sets up the last two chapters in a very tense and effective way. I can only recommend a purchase. If you own the first two episodes, you will want to see this game out.

A full review with score will be made when all chapters have been released.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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