For the review of game mechanics and Episode One, please click here.
Starved out and running out of supplies, the group are holding off in a Motel with the manager, Mark. As food runs low, tensions run high – and more difficult choices are needed to ensure the survival of the kids and grown-ups. A much more fluid and violent episode, Starved For Help has a much more fluid dynamic than the first installment, with a lot less lengthy chitter-chatter and reliance on exhausting all options in order to move forward.
The first episode of any show is always an odd one. The establishment in role of characters and introductions of themes often seem long drawn out and a little immature. Whilst we loved Episode One tremendously, we’re glad to have moved onto the next one having gotten some of the tedious and lengthy dialogue out of the way. By no means is Episode 2 a more shallow experience: it isn’t at all, but now we know who everyone is, Telltale have let loose a little and some of the character actions require less back-ground explanation, which means a more exciting experience, more time for action.
Action there is. Episode 2 features more gore, more polished visuals (the environments look bigger, better and fuller) and a better albeit cliched story (although there are little bits in between with real originality). Put simply: it’s more of the same, but overall more polished. Gone are the bugs and jerky frame-rates from Episode 1, and players won’t have any problems with performance anymore.
It seemed as though there were less moments where my choices would genuinely affect the game, and who died etc,. But there was plenty of opportunity to piss people off, which would carry across into the next game and even affect the out-come of the current episode as it progressed. Lee and Clementine share less back-and-forth, although integral in places, and you’ll enjoy more freedom to explore and work out in your own mind what’s going on.
The story is rich and creepy, with some genuinely heart-warming and hard-pressed emotional moments. Sharing community relief in the vein of Lost, when they found the Dharma supplies, you really feel glad to have had a more in depth ‘pilot’ to set the tone. You genuinely care about the characters, still, and their personalities have grown visibly. Although the story shares much in common with literature in both Zombie and post-apocalyptic tone, you’ll enjoy the narrative even if you’re too familiar with exactly what’s going on.
That’s one of the problems with Episode 2, though, although there’s some seriously shifty stuff going on, you’ll probably work out exactly what’s in store before Telltale ideally want you to. That dampens some of the surprises which they wanted to lead up to, to some extent, but the journey is still fun and exciting. The dialogue often gives a little too much away, and there isn’t much you can do to altar the out-come. Even when you’ve worked out what’s going on, you have to watch naive Lee fumble around until he’s presented with the plain and obvious evidence. I don’t know if this is a legitimate complaint, since we live the story through Lee’s eyes, but I felt frustrated knowing what he didn’t know – but the important thing is that I cared enough to get frustrated.
We reported the The Walking Dead Episode 1 was a triumph of interactive story telling, bring the relatively niche genre to the mainstream. Episode 2 have been improved upon in every way, even if the choices you make don’t seem to affect the party count to a huge degree in this one. There are rifts between the members, and you’re often forced to pick sides, but I felt as though my choices today were designed to affect whatever’s coming next. In reality, I suppose, Episode 2 is the prologue to episode three (that seems an obvious and silly thing to say) but you’ll understand by the end of the game that what you’ve done in Episode 2 will have serious consequences for the third.
Anyone who’s read The Road, or even played Fallout 3 will feel as though they’re on familiar territory, and what with all the local commotion and inter-group fighting, there’s a few other stories going on in the background, too.
Remember that Telltale need to deliver quality product with every single Episode, since some gamers, mostly console gamers, are paying per episode. This really shines through, and so far there’s been a clear uniqueness to both episodes. I continue to care for Clementine (even if they have changed the Pokemon cap, perhaps for legal reasons) and I still enjoy the boding depth of Lee, our main character.
Certainly give this one a play-through; it shares a similar length to Episode 1, but there’s much more going on. There’s more action. But where there’s more action, it doesn’t let go completely of the quiet emotion, and moments of contemplation. It remains a deeply human experience.