Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 5 — No Going Back

It has been one long, terrible road for little Clementine. Multiple horrific acts have taken place in front of the eleven-year old child, and with the world in the state as it is, things are only going to get worse. Seeing a man beaten to death or eaten alive by Walkers are deep emotional scars for anyone, but those pale in comparison to the inhuman that await friends. Amid the Ruins left players off with a shocking conclusion that no doubt would end in the demise of multiple characters. How things unfold is up to the player and their meaningful choices.

The last episode left us off with such an incredible cliffhanger that had everyone gritting their teeth in anticipation. Unfortunately, the beginning of the No Going Back takes that anticipation and leaves us with utter disappointment. There was a setup for something absolutely phenomenal for the series, and yet Telltale somehow fumbles it into nothing more than an afterthought and wasted potential. It’s not only the beginning of the episode but what follows, as there are some outlandish events with some of the characters to specifically remove them from the story – or at least for the time being. It almost feels artificial how these are set up, almost as if they were racing towards the finish. Thankfully, there’s one event early on that bring us closer to some of the characters in a heartwarming experience. It’s a rare occurrence to be found amongst the killing and running we’ve become accustomed to, finally sitting down with a group and feeling a little at ease. This coupled with a rather tender moment a little past halfway through, and it becomes an emotional episode.

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Another problem No Going Back has is the lack of adventure game elements. This is a series that originally contained somewhat strategic puzzle solving components, but it has become less and less prevalent over the last season. No Going Back has absolutely none of this and even restricts the player from moving outside of two instances – and even one of those is just Clementine tasked with walking twenty feet and opening a door. There’s no putting two and two together nor are there any obstacles to overcome. At some point, it makes you question why Telltale even has a system to move around when it’s absolutely trivial in the grand scheme. This is something past episodes suffered from but No Going Back takes it to another level. The only other control players have over little Clementine is the ability to choose different responses for her to say, but it’s only at the end that they become a significant factor. Dispatching of Walkers in combat scenarios are still here but there’s not much strategy or urgency to them.

As the conclusion of the second season, gamers are expecting big things, and thankfully Telltale has delivered. The final scenario is arguably one of the most gripping and incredibly uncomfortable moments we’ve seen from both seasons. Strangely enough, it’s able to capture both Clementine’s maturity as someone who can make drastic choices, and at the same time, her inability to offer aid or persuasion to adults in dire times. There are roughly five different conclusions to be found, and having seen them all, each one has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are very emotional and bring out the best in Clementine, while others test her trust and willingness to accept others into her world after the recent horrific events. In the end, whether the eleven year old girl becomes a hardened loner or a faithful friend is entirely up to the player.

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Closing Comments:

No Going Back is the perfect title for the fifth episode of The Walking Dead Season 2 as it captures the emotional scenarios Clementine has had to overcome. At the same time, it’s difficult to see how the series will move forward, especially with the determinative conclusions that contains multiple outcomes. It’s a journey well worth finishing, but unfortunately the final scenario is the only positive aspect No Going Back has going for it. It doesn’t only start off rough but it moves into questionable paths that don’t fit with the sensible characters that were established. With that said, there is one sense of happiness early on and thankfully the final chapter contains one of the most tense and uncomfortable moments to be found. The way Telltale is able to manipulate your emotions so easily is astonishing, so it makes it all the more disappointing the rest of the episode doesn’t come together as well as it could have.
score3.5
Version Reviewed: PC