Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS
Release Date: July 22, 2014
ESRB: M for Mature
The Walking Dead: Season Two is moving towards its conclusion, and now, more than ever, we are left with questions. What will become of Clementine and survivors? How many more people will fall to the Walkers or, worse yet, the whims of other people? Episode 4 may provide some answers, but it leaves us with even more as the tale moves towards its final episode.
Note: There will be minor spoilers from the previous episodes. This review will not have spoilers for Amid The Ruins.
Amid The Ruins starts off immediately after the end of Episode 3, showing you the results of the difficult decision you were forced to make during the previous episode. From there, the survivors escape the hoard of Walkers attacking Carver's base and must deal with a new ordeal: Specifically, the ordeal of childbirth.
The majority of this episode actually features a fair amount of downtime, allowing you to catch your breath with the copious action from Episode 3. As Rebecca goes into labor, you have to find some necessities to ease the childbirth, as well as find the remnants of the group that got separated during the escape from the hoard.
This gives some characters a bit of time to get their feelings straight, as the last couple of episodes have done little in giving the survivors a respite. It also gives a little bit of time to focus on the newcomers to the group. Jane in particular gets a fair amount of development as she feels a need to help Clementine learn how to survive, and makes her one of the more interesting characters of the season. Bonnie and Mike are unfortunately neglected in terms of character development, but there is a chance they'll get a little more time in the spotlight in Episode 5.
If anything, the decisions that are forced upon you this time are a bit disappointing. Many of the choices seem forced, and many of the situations that spawn from these decisions feel half-baked. For starters, there should be little reason that Clementine should be making such important decisions for the group, even with groups showing a fair amount of friction between the two 'leaders'. While this is something that made sense for Lee in Season 1, the simple fact that Clementine is a child (even a greatly matured one) shouldn't give her the ability to be the single voice of reason amongst a group of adults, not all of which are inhibited by injury or the stress of childbirth.
Even with the more 'personal' decisions of Episode 4, though, there felt as though there was some inconsistent writing involved. Amid The Ruins has a situation very similar to a sequence in Season 1 that is now well known for making the player feel shoehorned into the story without taking into account their decisions, and it gives the story an unfortunate disconnect that really puts a damper on the experience. The sad part is that there could have been an easy way to solve this by re-writing a few lines or changing the aggressor's motives, but the fact that Telltale didn't care to do so made it a little disappointing.
While it is by no means bad, Amid The Ruins is probably the lowest point of The Walking Dead Season Two yet. It does set itself up for an interesting climax, so one can only hope that Telltale really pulls off an exciting climax for this season of their hit adventure title.
+ Slower pace sets up for some character exposition and engagement absent from previous action packed episodes
- The disconnect between making decisions and their impact on the tale is shockingly obvious
- Too much time was focused on Jane this episode, leaving no room for development for the other survivors
Overall Score: 6.5 (Out of 10)
Amid The Ruins sets the player up for a suspenseful conclusion, but does little else to stand on its own feet as a two hour gaming experience.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Xbox 360 code provided by the publisher