The Walking Dead Episode 2: Starved For Help Review
- The Walking Dead
- Telltale Games
Made2Game The Walking Dead Episode 2 Review Score: 8/10
Formats: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Reviewed By: Liam Pritchard
If there is one thing that Telltale Games does well, it’s story. Despite an array of technical glitches that undermined the overall quality of both Back to the Future and The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day, the excellent standard of writing, genuinely emotional beats inherent within the story and the consistently top-notch performances all combined to create experiences that transcended their technical faults – the same is very much true of Telltale Games’ latest.
The dead continue to walk
Returning to the modern day twist on point and click adventuring that combined the best of the traditional genre tropes with more modern gaming design such as, well, actual movement I suppose, The Walking Dead: Episode 2: Starved For Help, like its forbearer, straddles the line perfectly between visual and interactive entertainment. Giving you just enough to do to feel genuinely involved while always managing to keep your attention firmly locked on the characters and story, Telltale Games are continuing to prove themselves a company smart enough to know their weaknesses but, perhaps more importantly, confident enough to highlight their long list of unmatched talents.
Taking place some time after the events of Episode 1, Starved for help sees history teacher Lee Everett and his battered companions holding up in St. John’s Dairy, a creepy old farm that houses its own share of twisted secrets. The narrative is once again deftly handled, forcing sudden decisions upon you that alter the flow of the story and help you to build your own experience.
While the pressure of living up to the promise of releasing one episode a month has clearly affected the technical quality of the product (Episode 2 could certainly do with a little more polish), there is no doubt that it’s Telltales’ talents for storytelling, characterisation and presentation that rise to the top of this unique and highly memorable slice of interactive entertainment. Yes, you will notice the raft of bugs that pop up throughout your experience, but it’s testament to the quality of the product as a whole that you will find them so incredibly easy to ignore.
When there’s no more room in Hell
With the emphasis once again on having to make important, difficult and, at times, emotionally affecting decisions, Episode 2 takes the successful framework of A New Day and places it within the confines of an even more personal story. Replacing the panic of the initial zombie breakout with the more human stories of coming to terms with the day-to-day reality of the situation that the survivors are left with, Starved For Help delivers less immediate and obviously dramatic choices with quieter, more deliberate and arguably more affecting ones. From choosing who gets to eat as food supplies run low to dealing with the complications that come with such an uneasy alliance, dealing with the ongoing relationships that have carried over from the first episode is rarely less than compelling stuff, while making basic decisions regarding rationing is made to feel incredibly important thanks to the consistently high quality of the writing throughout.
This won’t win over those who weren’t enamoured by the first release (this is unsurprisingly more of the same), but there is no doubt that Starved For Help will continue to please the million-plus gamers who downloaded Episode 1. With an even stronger narrative, increasingly complex characterization and intensity inherent within just about every situation and dilemma that Episode 2 throws up, Telltale’s take on this much loved franchise continues to rewrite the rulebook on zombie based videogames and once again justifies the surprise success of a series that continues to deliver first-rate, genuinely grown-up entertainment.
Technical hiccups might well keep it from greatness, but one would be a fool to let such minor issues stand in the way of experiencing what continues to prove a fantastically memorable tale of survival.
Words by Liam Pritchard
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