Review by Bkstunt_31

Reviewed: 12/11/12

The human mind is such a fragile thing...

Fair Warning! This review is for "The Walking Dead Episode 3: Long Road Ahead". If you're reading this you likely (or probably should have, at least) played both Episode 1 and Episode 2.

So, here we are with Episode 3: Long Road Ahead. The mid-point of the series. The events at St. Johns Dairy Farm sure were crazy, weren't they? However that entire episode was centered around the farm and most players likely saw that coming from a mile away. Episode 3 doesn't have that kind of build-up behind it though, and often just blows you away by new development after new development.

Our small group of survivors is still living in the Motor Inn. The episode starts off with Lee and Kenny raiding the drug store in Macon for supplies when they see a (bitten) survivor being attacked. Here you can choose to either put the woman out of her misery (shoot her) or let the zombies have their struggling meal to buy yourself more time to raid the drug store. After that hard choice you'll return to the Motor Inn and learn that the bandits from episode 2 are now harassing your group as evidenced by the arrows and bullet holes. There's also apparently a thief among your group as supplies have started to go missing. All these events and mounting tensions in the group (particularly between Kenny and Lily - especially after what happened with Lily's dad Larry) eventually surface and tear the group apart.

Episode 3: Long Road Ahead really focuses on the human interactions you've built up through Episodes 1 and 2 and brings events to a head when faced by other human enemies (the bandits). Story-wise, the payoff is fantastic. The timing of the story throughout the episode is expertly done and does great justice to all the choices you've made while altering your life with Clementine even more. If you enjoyed the game up to now be sure to keep playing!

The game play is, naturally, the same as the previous episodes. You have lots of dialog options throughout the game, but very little "life or death" choices where your actions directly influence who lives and who dies (as opposed to, say Episode 1). You're much more re-active in this episode. There's some puzzles in this episode, but they are pretty easy to figure out (although I did like the missing pills puzzle as well as the train engine puzzle). There IS a notably big change in this episode though: live-action gun play. That's right, you'll have a chance to use a firearm and shoot at both bandits AND walkers in this episode while they move around in real time. It's pretty fun, but also stands as an EASY way to die, as if you let a single bandit get too far towards a party member it is game over. Fun.

The graphics in the episode are naturally the same as before. Clementine does have a new sweatshirt, I suppose. You can expect the short little lags between scenes as usual, although this is the first episode I encountered a game-breaking glitch as well (which naturally made me restart from the last checkpoint through the main menu... a little annoying). Still, the animations are really good and the backgrounds you encounter have a good amount of detail paid to them so the game is still graphically pleasant to look at.

The audio in the game is still very strong with excellent voice acting and an orchestra to back up touching and dramatic scenes. There's a few new faces that show up as you play the game but their voice actors do a great job and keep the quality high (I especially like whoever voices Omid). In short the audio is just as good as the previous episodes, so keep the volume up!

The series re-playability is strongest when the games are linked together and that starts to show in this episode. Your interactions with Kenny and Lily payoff big time in this episode and the whole Carley/Doug thing is noticeably different here as well. There's little either/or actions in this episode that will make you want (or need) to play through again to see what YOU could have done differently, but with the amount of bombshells dropped in this episode you'll likely re-play it anyways just to see if there's anything else you could have done...

Overall: 9/10

Episode 3: Long Road Ahead drops some massive story bombshells... bombshells that hit you hard due to the time you've spent in previous episodes but the story in Episode 3 is just fantastic. The game play also ratchets up a notch with the live-action sections and puzzles. The rest of the game maintains the high-quality standards set up by the previous episodes but the fantastic story and new game play elements do enough to make this my favorite episode out of the first three! I don't know about you but I can't wait for Episode 4 now! Have fun and keep playing!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead (US, 08/28/12)

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