Bleak. As a post-apocalyptic game featuring heavy choices, a dark story, and lots of gore, one word to describe Telltale’s The Walking Dead would simply be “bleak”. If you didn’t think that quite described it ever before, you will by the end of episode three, and you’ll probably need to lie down afterwards.
If you’ve been playing the season so far, there’s no spoilers for the third episode here, but be warned that we’re going to have to share some details of the first two episodes to set the scene. Below the video there are mild spoilers for episode one and two of the second season.
Carver, as you probably know, isn’t a very nice man. After a showdown in the last episode, with a number of casualties, he’s captured you and the rest of your gang – both those you met at the start, and the others that you met last episode. Now, he’s keeping you prisoner, and he feels much scarier and much more of a threat than those walkers – or lurkers – out in the wild.
The arrangement he has at an abandoned home store is what he considers a strong community – it’s part military regime, part ego-driven jailhouse and part cult – and you’ll find Clementine and her gang at the lowest of the low, stuck outside in prison-like conditions and forced into labour. It is not a good arrangement for anybody other than those controlling the show.
It’s a strange and scary situation, as you find yourselves wanting to escape captivity from the very beginning of the episode. Being that you’re locked up, many of the environments are small and lack variety, but that really just adds to the mood of the game.
It only gets bleaker and bleaker as it goes on, truly taking things to the next level of depravity. It’s a great tale, and extremely well told, with some amazing scenes throughout. While it may start off slow, it builds up to an incredible third act which features some of the best content that Telltale have produced this season.
Despite that, the choices become somewhat moot again, partly due to the fact that you’re effectively captured. There are a few prominent decisions later on, but it can fall into the trap of not giving the illusion that your choices actually matter, or that actually just making them has a greater impact. Thankfully, dialogue and scripting once again remains strong, along with some fantastic shots and scenes which really draw you into the episode.
If anything, this episode once again reinforces the fact that the post-apocalyptic wasteland, and the walking dead who inhabit it, are simply a backdrop for a truly emotion, impactful and brilliant tale which is being told at a superb pace. The last episode set up some superb plot threads, and they’re realised fully in this excellent piece of fiction.
In Harm’s Way is the bleakest and best episode of Season Two yet. It’s not quite on par with the later episodes of the first season, but perhaps shows that this is a game that increases in quality with each episode. Although it starts off with a rocky beginning, the blend of survival gameplay, superb scripting, and perfect tone, which is filled with emotional and tense moments really takes it to the next level as you progress.
The environment may be small, and the choices are still perhaps too limited in their scope, but watching the events of the third episode unfold – and having some direct involvement – is simply something that’s not to be missed if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead.