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The Walking Dead: Episode 5: No Time Left Review

Note there will be spoilers for previous episodes, if you haven’t yet played the game then check out our review for the first, second, third and fourth episodes. Set straight after the events of episode four Lee and whoever came with you are stuck in the basement of the hospital with a herd of zombies roaming around them. Lee has been bitten and Clementine has been kidnapped. In short things have never been worse for our group of zombie survivors.

Why do we play videogames? Something I’ve never really thought about, which is odd as I spend so much of my time doing it. Is it a form of escapism; given the ability to do what we could not in normal life or the ability to explore worlds that are completely alien to the one we live in? Maybe it’s simpler than that and just a way to fill some time, like dangling keys in front of a baby, we just like to be distracted by flashing images which we can control in some way. Why do we watch Films or TV shows? Why are they often viewed as more mainstream and gaming viewed as a niche market with childish undertones? You can certainly say that people enjoy those mediums for the same reasons, so what is the key difference? I’m not 100% sure but I would say it’s the characters; film, TV and something called “books” are more character focused, whereas gaming by its very  nature requires a lot of focus elsewhere. Why am I blabbering on about this in this review? Well while playing through Telltale’s The Walking Dead series I found myself looking at it more like film than a game.

It’s because of this that I struggle when it comes to reviewing this game, having done so since the first episode.  At least back then I could point out the gameplay mechanics and the interesting graphical style of the series. Assuming you’re reading this you’ve already played through the episodes and you know that the game is a point and click adventure game but refined down to simple puzzles, in fact in this episode I don’t think there was one single puzzle to solve. Other than the standard point at zombie, click to kill zombie puzzle we’ve already mastered by now. So the gameplay is the same, there isn’t much gameplay in this final chapter either, being shorter than all the others. Graphically the game looks the same, a tad dark even with the game’s brightness all the way to max, but otherwise it’s serviceable. What does that leave me with; the story.

It all comes back to this, because this game focuses on the characters. This series has managed to make a lot of people actually care about the characters. Clementine a collection: of polygons, thousands of lines of code and some dialogue that was pre-recorded months ago, has managed to work her way into the players heart. She’s just the poster girl for the game though; as every character in the series have their advocates and detractors. Take Ben for example; he’s ineffectual when it comes to fighting zombies, he inadvertently lead to the group getting chased out of the motel and thus caused the deaths of multiple members of the group. On the other hand he’s a teenager having to deal with the zombie apocalypse and if you didn’t let him fall to his death (you heartless bastard) he will finally stand up to Kenny in this episode. Making Kenny look at him like a person that has suffered and is trying his best rather than the cause of his current misery. This also allows the player to also see this “dead weight” is not just something to drag the group down but a fully fleshed out character. People hate Ben with a passion; people emphasise with him, seeing themselves in him, we can’t all be the hero after all; and some people love him for his awkward nature and innocent naiveté. Point is people feel something towards the character, I don’t think I’ve come across a person that didn’t have an opinion on Ben or saw him as just some window dressing. That’s the game’s strongest element; creating complex characters that are open to interpretation but at the same time always invoke some sort of emotional response.

The final episode is very emotional and I can’t tell you why because that would ruin it for you. Needless to say it takes the characters we feel something for and places them in harm’s way against seemingly impossible odds. Will they triumph or will they fall? The choice isn’t yours to make but its one hell of a ride either way. While this episode is the shortest and there aren’t any puzzles we all know it’s the characters that keep you coming back and you want to know what happens to them.

Spends his days reporting on games, talking about games, thinking about games, watching videos about games and reading about games. So much so has little time to actually play any of them.