Somewhere midway through the first episode of Telltale’s adventure based on the comic book series that is also now a TV show I’ve decided one thing: as long as they keep releasing new episodes I’ll keep buying and playing them. Now, we’re three episodes in, moving forward and I stand by my decision. Here is a quick disclaimer before the review starts. There is no need for me discuss graphics or audio in too much depth, the game uses the same engine and the same voice actors throughout, those things are as solid and consistent as they ever were. So in a way, this isn’t a full fledged review, it’s more like a quick look. So enjoy.
The story picks up at some point after episode two. It’s hard to judge the exact time, but it is clear that it’s not too far after the ending. Things are getting more heated at the hotel and pretty fast you are once again forced to take sides and push on. Much like in previous games, there will always be two warring factions and you will pretty much have to chose sides (while doing favors for both) or attempt at mediation with often questionable results. My biggest gripe with the story developments here, this being an episodic game, is that the impact from the previous two episodes didn’t feel particularly overwhelming, or present at all. Sure, there were a few nods and words, but nothing was really said or noted. It was hard for me to see how things may have been different (though I might have to replay for that), and the story lost some weight for it.
What I did like however, were the even more mature and emotionally draining themes this episode chose to deal with. For those who played the last episode, they’ll know that Telltale is not afraid to explore the darker corners of the universe, however last week there was still a clear line between “us (the player) vs. them”. This month’s episode however, the gloves came off as the game tackled some of the more interesting and engaging conflicts yet, many with very dark consequences that really made you pause and think. This is the kind of thing emotional story that requires your full commitment for a richer, more engaging experience. Even hours after I put down the controller my mind went back to some of the things that happened. There is an eerie sense of realism to most of the character’s actions that force you to consider how you would act in some of these situations.
Play style wise, not much has changed. The puzzles are not too particularly involving, although some areas have become definitely more complex with a number of sequences that must be carried out. A few more timed events were added into the mix where you must preform certain actions. As usual, the timing isn’t too strict and you will most of the time pass these moments. The game finally introduced more shooting into the mix as there is an on rails shoot out event where you control the aim. Surely, this is far from FPS standards, but having this as part of gameplay somehow made the situation feel more dire, extreme. Overall, the game still handles very well, the controls allowing for quick interactions where needed. It feels like a true and tried formula that Telltale keeps sharpening through each game, with every installment more refined than the predecessor.
In the end, in games like these it all comes down to your decisions and how much you feel they impact the game. In the third episode, each choice felt like it piled more and more weight upon Lee’s shoulders, giving the episode the emotional impact we’ve come to expect from the Walking Dead franchise.
Verdict: If you’ve been playing these episodes from the start then you know exactly what to expect from the gameplay. Story wise it is a much tighter and darker experience, putting you into certain situations more for the emotional payoff than the diversity of responses. It seems that with every episode the tension gets ratcheted up a bit more and more. On the other hand, if you’ve never played the game before I’d still recommend going back to the first episode and going through the whole story in progression. It is an interesting and exiting ride, and after finishing this third episode all I could think about is how the next one is not soon enough.