The Walking Dead: Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead

Walking-Dead_Episode-3_XBLAboxart_160w
9.5 Overall Score

An emtional thrill ride | Great story

Minor glitches | Awkward Quicktime controls

Written by on September 26, 2012 in [, , , , , ]

TellTale Games has managed to crank it up from zero to crazy in record time in their latest episode of The Walking Dead, entitled “Long Road Ahead”. This series follows the complex relationships between survivors of a zombie apocalypse. These folks are tragically human and all of their many flaws are amplified in this very uncertain world. This episode finds our survivors beyond their boiling point. They have been forced to hunker down in the extremely cramped quarters they have found in the destroyed roadside hotel. They all have different ideas on how to stay alive. Lee Everett remains the lead character but his ability to lead the group is still in question.

As with Episode Two the game starts with a clip sequence to show what happened previously in the game. Given the relatively long wait for this episode and my lack of memory this is a very handy element in the game. As before the main elements of the storyline are unchangeable but many relationships and interaction continue to be shaped by the players choices and actions.

The relative safety of the hotel is threatened when the local thief ring breaks down the defenses and takes most of the group hostage . they barely escape death a few ways but the end result is pile in the RV and go down the road. This journey may begin at the hotel but it soon shifts to the team fleeing in an RV then commandeering a train to make their way to Savannah.

The plot is so incredibly intense and surprising that I do not want to spoil it for anyone. but I can say that the story continues to shock the player with twists that they will not see coming until it smacks them square in the face. There are no good answers in this world gone mad. Survival relies on one’s ability to keep one step ahead of the Dead and a bit of blind luck. Each decision must be made quickly and the repercussions of those choices can be extremely painful. This serves to reinforce the painful reality in the game that time is short for everyone.

At the end of this truly gut wrenching episode Lee finds it more important than ever to prepare Clementine for the road ahead. There are too many dangers and everyone needs to know how to survive the best they can. These actions not only give Clem some much needed skills training, it also helps her gain some much needed confidence and, most importantly, hope.

There are a few glitches in the game that are more funny than annoying.  At one point in the game Katjaa is holding her injured son Duck in her arms. The only problem is that Ducky is invisible. Sort of odd and a bit funny but not a game changer. There are also still a few awkward moments when past decisions are computed before a character reacts to an event. These moments may hang the game a bit which is still a mere minor annoyance in a game that accomplishes so much.

The further I get  in the game the more I wonder what would have happened if I had made different decisions along the way. What would have happened if I had picked to save Doug rather than Carly in episode one? Should I have sided with Kenny more despite his extremely selfish moral outlook? These are the things that will drive me to try other combinations in the future and make this game rich in replay value. Replay based on emotional reasons rather that action. This is an extremely rare gift in a game.

Another thing I realize as I progress in the game is that my gut reactions based on emotions make it increasingly more difficult to endure some of the tragic events that unfold in this game. There are no sacred cows in this game. Every character is a likely target for the next horrible end. Getting emotionally attached to anyone could spell heartache and hard times ahead. This also means trying to form rock solid alliances with just one or two characters can be deadly since the next moment they could die and your surviving team mates will not forget the slights made against them in the future. The result is an almost exhausting attempt to remain friendly with everyone. Trust is extremely important and it must be earned.

This is a game of inches where there are no easy answers. Friends are won and lost at an alarming rate. A seemingly neutral choice a player makes from the decision wheel can turn out to be a disaster. More than once I chose the most neutral sounding response. Lee turned that response into a decidedly harsh shouting match. This makes those quick pick decisions even harder to pick from. The only saving grace in the game is Clementine. Lee’s relationship with Clementine is critical. She is his conscious, his soul, and his source for redemption. This fact terrifies me to no end. Given TellTale’s story so far, this may not bode well for our favorite little bundle of cute.

The gameplay elements in this episode are very similar to those of past episodes with a bit more focus on the Quicktime action events. This only served to accentuate the awkward controls of using the right thumbstick to aim and the action button (for the Xbox it is the “A” button) rather than the more logical right trigger to shoot. This is the trick of trying to turn a point and click adventure into an fps. The process puzzles are still fairly straight forward. Lee is often required to complete several particular actions to progress through the game. This may lead to several awkward moments where the player will be circling an area to figure out what clue they missed or what action they forgot to do.

Overall the game continues to build in intensity with the action and choices coming at the player fast than a speeding bullet train. The action sequences can be frustrating and may take a few times to complete but they are fairly rare still. The game continues to focus on relationships and how they are continuously tested, twisted, and terminated. Old characters will depart one way or another and new, potentially more dangerous folks join our not-so-merry band.

The end of the episode gives the player one last terrifying twist. It is one that hits Lee especially hard and will drive him even harder in the next episode. There is only one thing for certain. Players better get ready for a very bumpy ride to come to a screeching halt in the next episode. The gang will reach their destination of Savannah but their journey will be far from over. I have to say I am still very intrigued to find out where this will lead.

A copy of  The Walking Dead: Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead was provided to TMG for the purpose of evaluation and review.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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