As far as graphic adventures go, Telltale is truly redefining the genre with The Walking Dead. Whenever I think about point and click affairs, I don’t think ‘action’ and ‘edge of your seat’. But those are two things that you’re most definitely going to get out of this one.
Before we get into anything – if you didn’t play the first episode, go play it. Not only is it an excellent intro to the post-apocalyptic world that Robert Kirkman created in the hit comic book and television show, but it’s also a darned fine game in its own right. Oh, and you also need to own it to play Starved for Help.
SfH launches right out of the first game and every major choice that you did or didn’t make in Brand New Day affects how things play out in Starved. It’s a really nice touch for the series as it enforces the general theme of the property itself- that being that The Walking Dead isn’t so much about the zombies as it is about the people.
|The round table this isn’t|
It’s long been maintained by the creators that the story is about the months and years after the end of civilization, and not just about a couple of guys shooting monsters. Instead it’s very much about how the men, women, and children deal with what’s become a living hell for all of mankind. In Starved for help, we see how one family who owns a dairy farm copes with what passes for life in TWD’s universe. Surprise- it ain’t pretty.
It does start out that way though. When last we left main character Lee and his young ward Clementine, they were holed up in a roadside inn. They had forged uneasy alliances with a fellow group of survivors and were trying to make a stand. The group had a home, however temporary, and things were looking up.
|Fact: zombies are NOT edible|
Now three months later, the group is slowly starving and desperately looking for a way to get some food. The episode starts off with a bang as a hunting party (with Lee at the helm) runs across a small group of survivors in trouble with some walkers. This scene leads to a major plot point back at the inn that I won’t spoil here. But what I will say about it is that it’s a major revelation for anyone who doesn’t follow the source material (like me!).
From there things go from bad to worse. A pair of dairy farmers from a ways away invite the whole ‘family’ to their farm to live- and more importantly, eat. It’s when things move there that the episode really kicks into high gear and never really slows down. It’s quite a ride and has almost a Twilight Zone flair to it with numerous twists and turns and a big shocker right in the middle.
It is absolutely fantastic stuff. I can’t say how much I like what the writers are doing here and, story wise, The Walking Dead is turning out to be a ‘triple A’ title all the way. I say story wise because, unlike episode 1, the second installment of the game does have some graphical hiccups.
There’s nothing too serious, but at different points the engine seems close to death itself. In Brand New Day, I had a smooth ride clear through. The cell shaded graphics carry a comic book look that fits like an axe buried in a skull- which is to say perfectly. It’s strange that there should be anything different about Starved since it’s essentially the same game.
Nonetheless, characters stop for a second here and there, they stutter in moving on occasion, and at times the lip-sync is way off. Let me just be clear in pointing this out though, that it in no way ruins anything. The Walking Dead Episode 2 is as good as the first one (at times even better). Little glitches like the ones I mentioned do take you back out of the ‘experience’ (if I can use an overused buzz word) just a smidge however.
|Set creep-factor to 11|
One thing that won’t ruin anything for you though is the voice acting. It is, once again, one of the real highlights in The Walking Dead. From Terrance McGovern’s angry and caustic Larry all the way up to David Fennoy’s protective Lee, this game is pure audio gold. The musical score is likewise terrific and the ambient sounds add oodles of personality. Bonus- the door squeaks reminded me of the ‘loading’ screens from the first Resident Evil back on the PSOne. Ahhh, undead memories…
If you liked the first episode of The Walking Dead, do not in any way hesitate in downloading Episode 2. If you didn’t like it, part 2 has a faster pace and a seriously varied set of enemies as well as some truly shocking moments. And if you don’t like zombie games at all? Well, as I said in my review of chapter 1, you still might very well want to try The Walking Dead. It’s that good.
I think the only real ‘bad’ point, if you want to call it that, is that there’s a decent wait between episodes. Episode 3: Long Road Ahead, is still about a month away. A long road indeed as I absolutely can’t wait to sink my teeth back into Lee and Clementine’s perilous journey.
– Jason M