Review by horror_spooky
"Oh my darlin' Clementine..."
Here we are. The end of the road. My journey with The Walking Dead game series from Telltale Games was interesting, to say the least. Hyped up by promises of "Game of the Year" quality gaming experiences, I shelled out the dough for each episode, in hopes for delivery on that promise. Those looking for a game that will change the industry in any way, or expect it to leave a lasting emotional or artistically profound impact on their lives, will be sorely disappointed. However, what we have here, is a fully capable point-and-click episodic adventure game that is still pretty damn fun.
Episode 5 - No Time Left is the end of the first season of The Walking Dead game series. Attentive gamers will notice that after finishing the game, their Gamerscore is a strange 500 points. Most XBLA games allow for 200 or 400 points, and all retail games must include 1000 points, not counting DLC. This suggests that the second season of The Walking Dead: The Game is right around the corner from Telltale, and will probably run throughout 2013, if I had to venture a guess.
That being said, we do have a definitive ending to the story that was started in the first episode. This first season of The Walking Dead was all about Lee Everett. It was his story. Through Lee, we were able to meet a fairly sizable cast of characters as well, and go through the ropes, as it were, for The Walking Dead lore. Lee is a troubled man with a dark past, but after the outbreak of undead, he meets Clementine in the first episode, and this is just as much her story as well.
Clementine and Lee's relationship is a huge part of the dynamic in The Walking Dead. In fact, this entire episode binges on their relationship. Please do not read the rest of this review if you haven't played the other four episodes, as it's really impossible to critique this installment without spoiling the prior four episodes, due to how story-based the series is. At any rate, No Time Left sees Lee and the remainder of the group dealing with the disappearance of Clementine, and trying to figure out what to do with Lee's bite.
A pretty major choice occurs right at the outset of the game, but it's a hollow one. Due to the finality of this episode, a lot of the choices feel hollow, and lack the same impact as they would have if they popped up in earlier episodes. The second season will probably incorporate these choices and maybe playing through again after the second season is released will yield an overall better story experience.
No Time Left is by and large the shortest episode. The other episodes took at least a few hours to go through, but No Time Left was about half that time. Granted, this episode was a lot more action packed as well, with each scene having pretty large repercussions on the characters involved. Some characters are given a final farewell, but the fate of others is left up in the air. These loose ends have been dotted throughout all five episodes, and I hope this will mean that season 2 will have a lot of returning characters so that there is already established faces and character development present.
Puzzles have more or less been abandoned for this episode. There is minor environmental exploration, minor puzzle solving, but there are a lot of choices. Dialogue has never been more important in the series than it is in this episode. Action sequences pop up more often, and they are more polished and more intense than before. Of course, this faster pace means the satisfaction of puzzle solving is lost, but what is gained is an all-around more exciting episode.
It seemed like all the other episodes brought a new mechanic to the table, or tried to change things up a bit. Unfortunately, No Time Left doesn't really try to do that. There is nothing new here in terms of gameplay mechanics, but that's because everything has been fleshed out and established in the older episodes to the point that they really can't do much else with the current engine. Hopefully season 2 features an upgraded engine that will provide better graphics, better performance, and new gameplay elements to keep everything fresh.
No Time Left is definitely the most polished episode, though. Yes, there are still weird graphical freezes and bugs, but they are much less common. Animation has also been taken up a notch, with facial animation seeing a huge improvement. Voice acting is take it or leave it, but the voice actors do a mostly good job here. A very touching song plays during the credits that captures the desperation of the finale perfectly.
No Time Left is good. Besides the first episode, which had too many low spots, all the episodes of The Walking Dead are great. No Time Left is not the best episode, but it's definitely the most fast-paced and exciting. Be sure to stick around after the credits for a final scene that will leave those attached to the characters and story breathless with anticipation for the upcoming second season episodes. Telltale's episodic experiment has mostly been a success, and while I disagree with just how much praise has been heaped on the series by the gaming press, there's no denying that I had fun and made memories during my time with Lee Everett and all the other survivors.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/07/13
Game Release: The Walking Dead: Episode 5 - No Time Left (US, 11/21/12)
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