Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
In Starved For Help, we pick up where we left off at the end of the first game with Lee Everett, Clementine and his band of survivors barracading themselves inside a motel to escape the zombie roamers. Although they are safe from attacks, they now find themselves facing a new struggle: they are running out of food and are slowly starving to death.
I was full of praise with the first episode of The Walking Dead for faithfully capturing the tone of the comic book series and this second episode is no different. I can’t think of any video game attempting to convey a concept like starvation before and its refreshing to see Telltale explore this unchartered territory. Early in the tale, Lee is forced to choose who gets to eat a ration of food for the day and who misses out: a difficult choice when you have two kids, three women and an old man for company.
The action picks up in the episode when some bandits attack the motel and Lee attempts to find safety and shelter for his friends at a nearby farm. The inhabitants on the farm seem friendly enough but something seems…off about them. They appear to harbour a secret which could possibly unveil itself at, oh, lets say at dinner time. I like how the theme of hunger is interlinked throughout the episode.
Some of the content in this episode is rather disturbing and the game really earns its R18 rating. It definitely contains the squishiest character death in the series so far. It means that the game really lives up to its horror genre billing but it also means that it isn’t likely to see an official release in Australia for a long time. As long as I can keep downloading the episodes off the American Xbox marketplace though, I’m not complaining.
Starved For Help is short and sweet. Like the first episode, it has very few puzzles so its likely most people will finish this in a single session. I like that the game is building on my choices from the first game already. By the end of episode two, its conceivable that the way I’ve played and the characters I have left could be wildly different from another player. It’s always interesting to see the community breakdown at the end of each episode which compares the choices you made with other players of the game.
The quality of the writing in this series remains one of the most pleasant video game surprises in 2012 for me. The characters are as interesting as anyone in the comics or the tv show and the flow of each episode is handled skillfully and with a sense of cinematic flair. I’m glad this game is getting the recognition it deserves and I hope that its success means that Telltale eventually get to try their hand at other shows too. How cool would an episodic adaptation of Game of Thrones, The Newsroom or Breaking Bad be? There’s no reason it couldn’t be done.