|The Walking Dead: Long Road Ahead|
|Platforms||Windows, OSX, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS|
|Genre||All aboard the death choo choo|
|Buy from Amazon|
If there’s something that Telltale Games teaches its Walking Dead players in Long Road Ahead, it is that everyone is expendable. While I don’t know if everyone’s experience was like mine, I lost four major characters over the course of the episode. Zombies are dangerous in the world of The Walking Dead, but humans are a lot worse. To quote one of the characters, “I don’t believe in strength in numbers.”
I haven’t been quite as blown away by the episodes so far as the rest of the internet are, but I’ve certainly enjoyed them so far. The areas are generally small and there is little exploration or puzzle solving required. I’m reminded again of my original comparison of the game to Heavy Rain, but there was a greater sense of dread in Quantic Dream’s psychological epic than in this zombie-laden drama.
Long Road Ahead was released in late August and it was during this time that I was first exposed to the game through social channels, which is certainly not a surprise considering some of the hellish scenarios the episode puts its players through. While I feel episode three was an improvement over Starved for Help, I’m still looking for a bit more from the game than frantic quick time events.
The third episode opens up about a week after the events of Starved for Help, with the group experiencing a temporary respite from bandits attacking their motel camp. Lee and Kenny make a trip back to Lee’s parents’ pharmacy for supplies where they express their frustration at each other. Kenny keeps threatening to leave but I’m pretty sure these guys are going to be stuck together until the end, for better or worse.
Thankfully, the game moves away from the motel camp relatively soon after Lee returns (but not before a really awkward shooting scene that made me question temporarily why I was using an Xbox 360 controller to play the game with) and the survivors are on the road. Things start to break down from here, however, as the group implodes from within with tensions so high. Telltale writes these argument scenes very well leaving you disoriented with little time to make big decisions.
Eventually, what’s left of the group is stranded at a partially derailed locomotive. After the episode’s “big puzzle”, basically the equivalent of a small challenge in Tales of Monkey Island, the survivors head off to Savannah in the train with a couple new friends to replace the old.
The Walking Dead would be a pretty run-of-the-mill adventure game if it weren’t for the relationship between Lee and Clementine. It’s strengthened in Long Road Ahead when Lee realizes that it’s going to take more than reassuring words to protect the little girl, and decides to buckle down and teach her to protect herself. In a scene that couldn’t be done in any other type of game, Lee helps Clementine shoot a gun for the first time and verbally directs her aim to build her skill and confidence. It was a touching scene juxtaposed by the idea that in this world, even kids need to know how to protect themselves with firearms.
Also lots of credit goes to the game's animators. The facial expressions are excellent and exaggerated just enough with The Walking Dead's comic book graphical style. Favorite reaction: Lee's shocked look when someone notes that the homeless man they just met who lives on a train is finally "someone normal".
I like the track the game is on and am not concerned about the quality of the last two episodes at all. Telltale Games has shown that they will pull no punches when telling their story, and if that means gamers have to struggle through everyone else dying, so be it.