Telltale Games continues to raise the bar for video game storytelling in the latest iteration of The Walking Dead franchise, which is suitably rotating on a two-month basis. Lee Everett and his crew continue their struggle in the dark and unforgiving world with many new disasters to follow. With so much drama and blood being shed, is the third episode worth the wait or should we have left this one dead and buried?
The Walking Dead Episode 3 takes place a couple months after the events of the second episode where things continue to heat up. Kenny and Lilly are still at each other’s throats about who should lead the group while poor Lee is stuck in the middle of the mess, trying to maintain a strong relationship with everyone. Both characters have convincing points but it’s up to the player to choose a side and stop dillydallying in the middle as neutral. It’s a good way to separate a group based on how they feel towards the protagonist.
What the story does spectacularly is ensuring that alliances and how the player perceives someone can change in a blink of an eye. One moment you want a character dead for a heinous act while in the next scene you’re sympathizing with him over something tragic (or vice versa). Each individual is unique but it’s up to the player to decide who to trust and who to throw under the bus as some can be sketchier than others. There’s no beating around the bush this time as whatever is said will drastically affect what will happen in the story next.
There are some ground-breaking, yet horrifying, events in the third episode that no one should miss. There was one moment where I was in complete shock, not knowing what just happened and couldn’t think straight. Then a couple scenes later, an even bigger bomb was dropped. It was hit after hit this time around and will keep players immersed within the experience, not knowing what will happen next. These story elements are something many developers won’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
One of the biggest concerns with the episode stems from character development. The game will continue to track impressions on the people around Lee, good or bad, after each event or vocal conflict. There’s one moment that feels completely meaningless where, even if that person looked up or down to Lee, the story played out exactly same. There’s something to conveying the illusion of choice, but once you realize it really isn’t up to you, the magic falls apart, especially in this case. Regardless, the folks at Telltale do have a story to tell, but it could have been structured a little better in this one case.
The gameplay remains largely the same with putting two and two together to solve a puzzle and making some tough choices. What the third episode does bring to the table are intense action sequences where twice Lee is allowed to look down the scope of a rifle and fire it at enemies, whether they are the living or the undead. It’s a nice change of pace from quickly hammering on a button to break free of someone’s grip (which is still required, too), and tests your reflexes in a tense situation.
The Walking Dead Episode 3 made me sick to my stomach, and while that seems like a negative reaction, a zombie story without a bit of “horror” isn’t exactly going to be all that compelling. It’s amazing how fast things can turn for the worse and how easily the mood will swing among the variety of characters. Episode 3 is an emotional thrill ride that had my jaw glued to the floor with spectacular ground-shaking events. If you thought the last episode was disturbing, you haven’t seen anything yet.
Version Reviewed: PC