GAME NAME: The Walking Dead: Episode 2 – Starved for Help
DEVELOPER(S): Telltale Games
PUBLISHER(S): Telltale Games
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, iOS, Mac
RELEASE DATE(S): June 29, 2012
This review is based on the XBLA version of the game.
It’s not the Walkers that I’m scared of anymore, it’s my fellow-man. That is the overpowering feeling I had upon completing The Walking Dead: Episode 2-Starved for Help. Much like the source material on which it is based upon has already shown fans, it’s not always wise to accept others with open arms. Indeed the shambling corpses are still something to be feared but this time out Lee Everett and his group of survivors come face to face with the same kind of dilemma that Rick and company face all the time, should you trust a stranger? Finding out the answer to that question takes you on one hell of a ride.
Picking up three months after the events of Episode 1, Starved for Help quickly brings you up to speed on the situation. Lee, Clementine and the rest have fortified the motor lodge to become a mini fortress and seeing as how it’s been three months you would think things have worked out but all is not well in land of the living. Food supplies are running dangerously low and a power struggle seems to be building between two of your fellow survivors. Things are only made worse in the opening minutes by a few new arrivals joining the camp because after all the last thing you really need when running low on food is another mouth to feed. Situations such as your dwindling food rations will again lead to one of the main aspects of this series thus far…Choices.
In the same way the first episode included Mass Effect style choices that affect the characters and world around you, so does the second (and no doubt third, fourth and fifth) only in the second outing the choices seem that much harder to make. One of the earliest choices you must make is how to divide up your rations. You have four pieces of food and around ten hungry survivors. So what do you do? Do you play favourites, do you spoil the children or do you try to spread the wealth and keep things civil? Depending on the way you play (or continue to play if you played Episode 1) the choice may be simple or it may take some thought. I found myself taking Lee on a few laps of the barricaded motel while thinking carefully about how to best keep moral up and the group working together and when all was said and done ended up giving an asshole a piece of food as opposed to a small girl and the choices do not get that much easier as the game goes on.
Episode 2 plays identical to Episode 1 as Telltale has decided to take the “Don’t fix what isn’t broke” approach. You will still walk around a given environment while interacting with specific items and characters along the way. This is still no run and gunner, shooter fans will have their Walking Dead game soon enough after all. Although having said that, I found the action to be far better and the gore to be cranked up a notch. Fans of the more grotesque moments from the source will be very pleased with some of the events that unfold in this chapter.
Story of course is paramount for this series and as I alluded to in the beginning of this review this episode does not disappoint. Lee is pushed to the limit both physically and mentally and as the player you will find yourself second guessing your choices. Like Rick’s group, Lee seemingly goes from safe haven to safe haven only to come face to face with one horrific event after another. I suppose as we’ve come to expect from the comics and television show, never expect to see these characters safe for too long, I mean where would be the fun in that? If the first chapter of The Walking Dead was the introduction of the world and characters then the second is the fleshing out. It’s the darker, grittier and tougher older brother.
The game is still not perfect, while voice acting and audio glitches seem to have been tweaked for the better the game still suffers some freezing during scenes. There are also times in which the loading between environments overstays its welcome but these are all minor, nit picky things. The game is still lovely to look at with a style that showcases cel-shading which perfectly captures the comic inking, also besides the fortified motel in the early portions of the chapter all of the environments are new (as are characters outfits). The game also seems to be a bit longer then Episode 1 but only just, still at $4.99 it is hard not to consider these releases to be fantastic values.
In the same way that Episode 1 of The Walking Dead altered my perception about zombie games Episode 2 has altered my perception of just what can happen in this series. I honestly can’t imagine where the next episode will take us and what choices will need to be made but I look forward to it all nonetheless.
A copy of the game was purchased by PixelJumpers’ staff for reviewing purposes.
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