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Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 3 - In Harm's Way


gaiages

Developer: Telltale Games

Publisher: Telltale Games

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Release Date: May 13 (PS3, PC), May 14 (360)

ESRB: M for Mature

 

[Note: At this point, I cannot avoid some spoilers to Season 2 Episodes 1 and 2; reader beware. There are no substantial spoilers to Episode 3 in this review.]

 

 

The Walking Dead: Season 2 has reached its midpoint, and things are really starting to heat up for Clementine and the survivors. They are captured by Carver and taken to his community, which is more of a prison state than a place to call home. As tensions rise and the survivors have to deal with the past as well as the present, Clementine has to find a way to escape from the community, with the group in tow.

 

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Episode 3: In Harm's Way brings a new type of tension to Telltale's The Walking Dead series. Before, the survivors were only really worried about survival against the zombie hordes; now, the survivors have to deal with the possibly more dangerous threat of Carver himself. He makes for a great antagonist, really; while he is clearly half-crazed and not afraid to kill, it's also clear that he truly cares about the community he has built up, and believes that his methods are the only way to keep it all together.

 

This creates for a different episode than the norm; you don't really feel a great threat from the walkers for the most part, as you do in the other episodes; instead, the threat is from other humans, and the tempers they may or may not have. That also means there's an overall lack of action in this episode, but it also allows for a good deal of characterization.

 

In Harms Way also has a great deal of brutality. While the series has never shied away from gore and death, this new setting takes things to a new psychological level. Carver's methods are sure to leave a bad taste in your mouth, and some of the decisions you yourself have to make may make your stomach do flips. None of these scenes feel particularly forced in, either; they have distinct reasons, and aren't there just to unsettle players.

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Also, those that played the special 400 Days episode are finally able to see what happened to the survivors that left to come to (what was apparently) Carver's community. Rather unfortunately, though, these survivors only make a short, rather unneeded appearance. The only survivor from the 400 Days group to take a substantial role is Bonnie, who is also the only survivor guaranteed to go to the community in the extra episode. It's a shame that Telltale couldn't integrate the other survivors beyond a mere cameo appearance, and a disappointing part of an otherwise great episode.

 

Another sticking point turns up involving the survivors that may have ended up dead in Episode 2. I stated in my review that I felt some of these characters may have died depending on my actions, and Episode 3 shows that this may have been true; however, Telltale makes this obvious by the way the characters in question have been treated in the dialogue. One of the above characters gets taken away from the group early on in the episode, and ends up being left behind near the end due to various reasons.

 

The other character—while still being quite alive, still with the group, and previously being a person that caused a fair amount of tension—has next to no lines in Episode 3, and those few lines have no weight to the narrative whatsoever. This could be written off due to the character's shock at certain events, but it comes off more as lazy writing on Telltale's part. It's unfortunate that the characters couldn't have a little more weight behind them actually being alive, and players that found issue with Season 1's deceptively linear narrative are also going to find this treatment in Season 2 to be rather disappointing.

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While these issues do detract a bit from the episode's overall quality, that doesn't completely discount the fact that In Harm's Way offers an interesting and exciting continuation of the story of our pre-teen survivor. If you're willing to forgive the little hiccups, The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 3 will give you an engaging and rather interesting two-hour ride.

 


Pros:

+ A slower pace and relatively safe location give for plenty of characterization opportunities

+ Carver is a great, intriguing antagonist

 

Cons:

- 400 Days cast is largely unimportant

- The narrative is starting to give hints that perhaps this season's plot is linear, as well

 


Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)

Good

 

In Harm's Way is a great episode that offers plenty of room for tension and drama as we work towards its conclusion, but there's no getting away from the nagging disappointments that make the narrative feel as though your choices do not matter.

 

Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.

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