The Zombie craze is slowly flooding mainstream entertainment just as vampires have in the past few years. It had become a true feat to avoid mention of vamps, what with the popularity of the Underworld films, tons of novels including Anita Blake, True Blood and the dreaded Twilight Films. The late Abraham Lincoln couldn’t even avoid the undead in the afterlife. The Walking Dead television series has led the charge in the zombie takeover. The comics had been popular all on their own, but the series brought the graphic novels and its characters to great new heights. With a brand so popular that you essentially have to completely avoid social networks during air time to escape detailed spoilers, it was only a matter of time some gaming company capitalized.The episodes have been increasingly impressive and gamers are wondering if Episode 5 lives up to the standard set. Does Walking Dead go out with a bang, incorporating the tough decisions you’ve made up until the last scene? Or does it simply fizzle out with a scripted ending a la Mass Effect 3?
Moving forward, I will not be spoiling any plot points or detailing decisions I’ve made in the episodes.
The first four episodes of The Walking Dead were intense roller-coasters of action and emotion. Controlling main character Lee, you join a group, make choices on who survives and comes along, and many more choices that swim within the grey area. There’s rarely ever a right choice in this game and, sometimes, you’ll regret the decisions you make. Every character is aware and will notice nearly every move you make: From who you feed with meager rations to whether or not you kill a threat to the group or show mercy.
Episode 5 serves as a culmination of all the decisions you’ve made up until this point, and it does not disappoint. No spoilers, but even one of the most seemingly minuscule decisions you made early in the series has a huge effect on the final chapter. When I came to this realization as the scenes unfolded, my jaw dropped in disbelief. The writers definitely went in with a plan and executed flawlessly. After the recap, Ep. 5 picks up exactly where 4 left off. There’s no time jump like previous chapters, you’re tossed right into the thick of things following Ep. 4′s sick cliffhanger. From then on, the pace is always in 5th gear.
This chapter has no filler and no downtime, lending to an illusion of it seeming even shorter than it actually is. Much like the other episodes, you can finish this one in one sitting but it flies by with dramatic moment after moment. Even the very first choice in the game will leave you conflicted and stressed concerning Lee and Clem’s future. Gameplay typically stayed its course in episodes 1-4, but 5 actually takes away a good majority of the “filler” moments allowing you to converse with characters. There are really no “safe zones” per-say and rarely can you place your controller aside and relax: Anything can happen at any time and TellTale will test you throughout. The scarce moments of silence are deafening and intense in their own ways, hinting at darker things to come.
- Heart wrenching storyline/conclusion
- Great support characters
- Amazing pacing
- Great job weaving karma into the final chapters
- It ended
There’s a stigma when using existing intellectual properties for video games and gamers take TV or movie based games with a grain of salt. TellTale Games took the reigns on the Walking Dead games and have brought us the biggest surprise of the year. I had the fortunate pleasure of going into the Walking Dead games without any previous research via PlayStation, no previous history with TellTale and scarce Adventure genre experience. This all lent itself to a complete absence of expectations. Then, I was blown away. TellTale revitalized the adventure genre while bringing a dynamic story that evolved as you made crucial decisions. Not only do you make choices that affect the larger group, you manage the relationship between Lee and Clementine and influence her evolution throughout. Episode 5 represents the final chapter of this brilliant series and you’ll be moved to tears as things come to an end for this season.
For our complete thoughts on the first season, check out Episode 2 of our Homeroom podcast where we discuss things in spoiler-free detail. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
This review was conducted on a retail version of the game for the PlayStation 3.