Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
No matter what choices the player made, you’ll still be playing Lee Everett and your group will still consist of your surrogate daughter Clementine, the trucker Kenny and his family plus whoever else you were able to bring along. Their situation is increasingly desperate at the Motor Inn where they are safely barricaded away from walkers but are low on supplies and reaching a point of starvation. Worse still, there is a thief amongst the camp, stealing supplies from the others.
When the motor inn comes under attack, the group barely make it out alive but it comes at a cost, wiping out a handful of survivors. The brutal and callous fashion in which they are eliminated is certainly true to the spirit of the comic books and films. It is done effectively and has a surprisingly strong impact on you the player as you’ve been making choices up to now to consciously try and keep them alive over the past two episodes.
Although I’ve read about some other player’s reactions where there was a bit of grumbling about this sequence, I personally didn’t feel cheated by the game not giving me an option to save everyone. It’s all part of the high stakes and melodrama. And I think the writers have done this effectively. I mentioned in a review of an earlier episode that one of the things that the writers have nailed is the pacing of the story. If people were dying at a regular beat then the player adapts and becomes expectant, thus lessening the emotional impact. By affording the player some minor victories where they become attached to the survivors, it becomes much more effective in the moments when everything goes drastically wrong.
After the Motor Inn sequence the survivors hit the road, are forced to make some difficult moral decisions on whether they should punish one another for their actions and then come across a train which will take them to the coast. Along the way, the game adds some new characters in the mix – a homeless bum and a couple named Omid and Christa.
There’s definitely a slightly different feel to this third chapter of The Walking Dead. There are some slightly more involved puzzle solving exercises in the sequence where Lee has to get the train working and as previously mentioned, this is definitely a chapter about pushing the story along to its next location and final conclusion.
Having said that, this diversity in playing style is certainly no bad thing and my overall enjoyment of this series remains incredibly high. The action sequences are great but my favourite parts of the story so far have always been the more morose and understated moments. In Chapter Three, Lee has to euthanize one of the survivors who has been bitten and I thought the scene was handled very tactfully. Another scene later on where he resolves to better prepare Clementine for an inevitable life of survival, there are some bittersweet moments of parental bonding as he trains her how to use a gun.
All three chapters up to this point have been excellent and I look forward to seeing what Telltale do with their two remaining installments. The Walking Dead remains one of the best video game surprises of 2012.