Walking Dead Season Two – Episode 5: No Going Back
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: 08/26/2014
From the beginning of the season players knew this were not only going to be rough, but they were going to be different from what we came to expect with Lee in season one. Clementine has had a rough go of it and while our decisions haven’t quite had the weight or variety we wanted, it all came down to this last episode which does take your actions into account but delivers up several different endings to the season with variations on each. Some are more fulfilling than others, but it’s brutal either way and is a great conclusion to a season that’s had some ups and downs. Let’s take a look.
This episode picks up right where we left off with the cliffhanger of the previous episode and in the middle of a shoot-out that is at least in your group’s favor but it’s a gun fight so things aren’t going well either way. Clementine and her group end up trekking out afterwards and we finally get a chance to breathe with some touching and great character moments before things go to hell again with another make or break set-up after that before leading up to the finale of the episode and the season. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t been playing this season. The group ends up with Arno, that kid from the previous episode leading them to where his family was staying at. It’s a long trek and it’s broken up nicely after the gun fight with some solid character building around a camp fire that let’s you kind of try to fix the fractured group a little bit. The thing with The Walking Dead though is that nothing ever stays healthy and after yet another group fracturing event, the survivors aren’t exactly happy with Kenny and there’s talk about splitting the group up again. Of course nothing will be amicable with lives on the line and things go from looking like you have a shot to where you’re fighting just to survive and forced with some really awful choices when all is said and done.
While some events happen no matter how you play it out, the actions you take do end up playing out very differently for you as the episode goes on as well as at the end. I do recommend at least trying the main ending both of the major ways as there is a great character pay off for one of them, and a decent start for the other. All three of the endings and their variations will leave you hurting and hurting a lot. There’s a lot of meat to this one and pointing us in a direction early on while limiting the player choices and pay offs has led to an extremely well done ending for the season. This episode nails everything story wise you’d be looking for from The Walking Dead game series so far.
They do some neat things with the game engine this time around although the visual look hasn’t changed all that much throughout the series. There’s a great moment that uses some decent effects to really drive home the emotional impact and it’s not just amazing to look at but had me near in tears afterwards. It’s a great use of what they have available and on par with the rest of the season for sure. There are a few minor graphic oopsies mainly with a few noticeable body parts poking through clothing, namely parts of Kenny going through his bandage, but it’s brief and I honestly didn’t notice my first time through the episode. Audibly this episode is heart breaking. The performances are solid throughout and the voice actors really bring the pain and suffering and anger through their digital counterparts that really makes some scenes hard to get through but on top of that it just adds to the emotional punch that comes with the events unfolding.
Control and gameplay aren’t changed much at all from other entries in the series. If you’re looking for a bigger breakdown check out my review of the first episode of the season here. As for replaying the episode, you may want to give that a shot. There are 3 definite endings to this with a few variations on each one and each of them has a different emotional payoff with them. So go with the one you want first, then create a new save using your episode and pick up from around the tail end of the episode and try it another way. It’s worth it and while the one I chose was heartbreaking, it wasn’t nearly as heartbreaking as one of the others and gives one of the characters not only a much needed redemption but a big sense of closure as well depending on your choices as Clementine. Replaying this one has some great story moments on top of seeing different choices from earlier in the episode have an impact on how people react to you.
The episode has a nice mix of throwing conversations and the more intense combat moments so you’re not quite as tensed up throughout and can concentrate a bit more on finishing up the story for the season. The difference in endings is a nice touch I was glad to see although I would have liked having another one even more. Yes I am a bit greedy. What we got was really well done and is a good conclusion no matter how you play it out it feels like you finally have some control over the outcome. The pricing for the game versus how much time you spend in it overall is pretty good considering most big action titles only really run you about ten hours play time excluding multiplayer and you’ve got about that with the complete season here. This is definitely worth the price they put it at.
Telltale have definitely gone their own direction this season while still keeping very much with the themes and tone of the comic book the game is based off of. Where the first season had us meeting some characters from the comics, this season has largely been of their own making but keeps that oppressive and foreboding feeling very much alive. They did branch out and give us a real villain this season who has an effect all the way through to the end, not just on Clementine but on everyone involved, and it really paid off. I played through this episode right through and then went and played it again on another save file and did it yet again the next day mainly because I ran out of time the previous day. Granted some of the was me trying to play it out as a reviewer but another part of that was because I wanted to see firsthand what making different choices would end up doing to Clementine and whoever else was with her. Definitely more addictive than the last couple outings which felt like they led you on a bit of a leash.
While there were some bumps with the change over from Lee to Clementine, overall the season has been fantastic despite some players feeling a bit railroaded. The final episode definitely puts that choice back in their hands within the frame work of what Telltale set-up. It’s a great price, delivers a fantastic emotional punch and has some great moments throughout that really deliver a similar experience to the first season while still trying to do something new with it so we’re not replaying the same events with a different cast. The episode in general was fairly bug free although I mentioned the clipping issue earlier. The game plays really well without any of the loading issues I’d experienced in the first season and the pacing in this episode along with some great emotional punches really kept me engrossed. My only concern at this point is when we’ll get some kind of word on season 3 and if Clementine’s still going to be the lead.
Short Attention Span Summary
While the first season finale left you with a huge open wound where your heart should be, the second season decided that you didn’t need that heart after all and decided to stomp on it a few times before they set it on fire in the finale. Taking a few hints from players feeling they weren’t getting their own choices here, Telltale rights that ship by giving you some very definitive choices that alter the ending significantly while a few of the endings only really give one of the characters a real moment of redemption, the others aren’t anything to sneer at either. The player is asked to make some touch choices in the final moments of the episode and it’s a satisfying conclusion to a season that’s had a few rough patches, but it does leave one wondering where Telltale will go with Season Three and if we’ll continue on with Clementine or if it’s going to head over to a whole new survivor. Either way, this is a great endcap to the Season and definitely makes it worth picking up even if your choices don’t seem to have as much weight this season. It made the story a bit stronger and the focus isn’t quite where you’d expect it to be given the circumstances and yet it still works really well.
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