Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 4 — Amid the Ruins

Coming off the last episode of The Walking Dead, there were doubts that Telltale would be able to follow up on such shocking, memorable events. Surprisingly, however, the San-Rafael studio has found new ways to send chills down my spine. Grotesque, inhumane events occur in the fourth episode, along with choices that contain drastic outcomes. This is a world filled with the undead, not to mention gun-toting psychopaths around every corner, so some casualties are to be expected.

In terms of gameplay, this is less of a traditional adventure game and more of a dialogue-heavy conversation simulator. Puzzles are pretty much non-existent. There’s one that could be potentially considered a puzzle, but it only amounts to dragging a body towards a truck, not testing the minds of the players. There are only three short occurrences where you can actually move Clementine freely, making this more of an interactive TV show than an actual game. It’s all about how Clementine interacts with her group members this time around as dialogue choices seem to come at a higher frequency and with even more dire consequences. This is all about story, and thankfully the story is stronger than ever.

Right from the start of the chapter, you are thrown into incredibly difficult choices, risking friendships and lives. Because of the last episode’s conclusion, things aren’t so great for Clementine and her party as, while they were able to escape the grasp of a conniving psychopath, they’ve found themselves in a whole new mess of trouble. While walkers are still a concern, it’s more about Rebecca’s pregnancy and some of the psychological breaks characters have over the losses of their loved ones. It’s a compelling emotional tale filled with so much tension that it’s difficult to get through the entire episode without gritting your teeth.

By far the most interesting character was introduced in the last episode. Jane is a survivalist who has made it on her own, even figuring out some tricks to get around Walkers. Pretty much the Molly of Season 2, Jane is a strong willed loner with sister-issues who you’ll slowly warm up to, but at the same time, still have to keep a close eye on because she’s mainly out to protect herself. Previously, she was a quiet individual who kept to herself with very little dialogue to speak of. This time around, she has so much more to say and, like everyone in this guttered world, she has her own past dramas that has affected the way she acts.

The rest of the crew gets their own time in the sun, but it’s Rebecca who gets the majority of the attention. Mike and Bonnie both receive a couple of scenes together, but nothing more that really expands their characters. Luke has a couple of standout moments, especially with his interactions with Jane, but he mostly continues his vocal protesting on various occasions. Lastly, Sarah’s emotional break from what she encountered in the last episode is one of the more intriguing aspects as it’s up to Clementine and the player to break her out of the depression. Overall, the entire crew gets a strong expansion on their personalities and you better understand where they’re coming from.

The only negative notion I have with the story in Amid the Ruins is its ending. While it’s a strong conclusion to an already gripping hour and a half, it’s somewhat predictable. I had hoped the situation went the other way around because, once you see the familiar face, you instantly know what’s going to happen. In fact, it doesn’t even matter what choice you make partially in the episode as the new individual will claim the same aggressive reaction regardless. It’s an encounter that feels unnecessary for the second season, especially when this event has already happened in the past, just with less potential bloodshed.

Closing Comments:

Amid the Ruins is an exhilarating adventure and the best episode thus far. It gives players drastic choices to partake in, not to mention building on the relationships between Clementine and her party. It’s becoming a close knit group now with so many casualties, but it also allows for digging deeper on the emotional side of characters. This is also one of the few episodes players will want to replay as there are a couple of events that alter the way things turn out. If you’ve been following the second season, this will no doubt get you excited for the finale.
Version Reviewed: PC