When Telltale games, the developers behind Back to the Future, and Wallace and Gromit announced The Walking Dead, it came as a shock. They have gradually creeped up the age rating. Going from a plasticine dog, to Dinosaurs, and now, meat biting zombies. The Walking Dead is their most mature game. It's certainly not one for the kids, but it is Telltale's best outing yet.
Episode 2, (Starved for help) takes place three months after episode 1. With the first focusing more on bringing together the group and surviving the zombie outbreak, Episode 2 is more about starvation and relationships. The gang are struggling to find food, and Lee will have to make some tough decisions on who must eat. Do you keep a snack for yourself, or do you give it to someone else?
The game plays just like the first. You control Lee around the environment, searching for objects and clues, talking to people, and yes, killing zombies. Once again, quick decisions will be thown at you, and you must deal with them before the time runs out. It could be asking a simple question, or something more serious, like who lives and dies. If you've already taken part in Episode 1, you'll know that there's no right or wrong answer to the game. But the outcome will be different, depending on your actions. People remember what you say and do, and it all carries over into the next episode(s). This is the first time we get a chance to see your choices take effect.
When I first booted up Episode 2, it took a while to load. I'm guessing that it's loading the outcomes from the first episode to carry over. I cannot remember many of the choices I made, but I'm sure they will have an effect in Episode 2. Although, it's hard to not notice that the game can be very linier. Some choices in Episode 2 happen anyway. For example, choose to go to a place, or kill someone. I'm not going to reveal any major plot points, but these moments seem to happen no matter what I decide. Having said that, there are choices that do become affected, and the fantastic narrative keeps you constantly engaged.
In Episode 2, the group are much more ratty. It's all about who's leading the group, and the lack of food supply. A few new faces also enter the scene, and this has them leaving the motor Inn and heading to a dairy farm. Without revealing any big spoilers, I will say that it's much more gory than before. You will fight more zombies, and that means more quick-time events. There's a greater chance of Lee dieing, and it's more intense than ever.
The pacing is spot on, and Telltale games have done a great job in moving the series forward, even if it's not a leap. But it does suffer from a number of glitches. When custceens are transitioning, the game sometimes freezes. Animations can freeze when the game is loading, and there's some lip sync issues. It did happen occasionally in episode 1, but it's far more severe this time around. It's a shame, but because of it's solid cast, great story-telling and presentation, these slight hiccups don't effect your overall experience.
Episode 2 is another fantastic instalment to the series. It might hold plenty more bugs, but it doesn't stop you enjoying it. Lets just hope they are fixed in the remaining three episodes.
Review by Garerth Smith