No really, this is the finale, you are out of time!
Written by Super User
Published Monday, 26 November 2012 19:00
Before Telltale Games brought The Walking Dead franchise to PCs and consoles, the adventure genre had fallen on hard times. Big budget shooters, third person action games and a smattering of photo realistic sports and driving simulators seemed to be the flavor of the day. The thought of basing a game largely on exploration and character development seemed almost old fashioned and quaint, like Grandma churning her own butter. As unlikely as it seemed at the time, the episodic adventures that Telltale developed, about a group of survivors in post zombie apocalypse Georgia, captured hearts and critical praise for its unique approach to storytelling and game design. The decision making mechanic which altered the storyline promoted a sense within gamers that they were an active participant instead of a passive bystander in the unfolding tale. Should a renaissance in the adventure game format materialize, The Walking Dead will surely be able to take the lion’s share of the credit having done the heavy lifting to elevate the genre to something that resonates well with today’s audiences.
Episode 5 No Time Left is the final chapter in the story focusing primarily on Lee Everett and 8 year old Clementine. Without divulging any spoilers, it can be said that the episode’s title not only alludes to the conclusion of the story, but also the sense of urgency felt throughout most of the game as time truly is Lee’s biggest obstacle in his efforts to get Clemetine to safety. Whereas previous episodes often dealt with the survivors positioning themselves towards a safer future, in No Time Left Lee does not have this luxury, and the immediacy of his situation is all that matters as he moves from crisis to crisis.
"Episode 5 is a wonderful bookend to a journey that all gaming fans should experience."
The gameplay in No Time Left remains virtually unchanged. The core point-and-click elements which are the basis for interacting with the world are as slick as ever. Moving the reticle over items of interest immediately allows players to know how they might be able to interact with them. The execution of this system shines during several tense action sequences where Lee wields his pistol and meat cleaver at the expense of multiple zombie brains. On the flipside, the gameplay suffers from some insultingly simple fetch quests; of which calling them puzzles would give puzzles a bad name. While this aspect of the game had always been weak, it felt like Telltale had given up on it by the time the final episode rolled along. This episode also felt to be the shortest of the five. This was evident primarily because I was enjoying the game so much and like any great experience did not want it to end.
Presentation wise, the game continues to deliver a unique look and feel that is now instantaneously recognizable. Character facial expressions were particularly noteworthy in this installment whereby often a look or a raised eyebrow conveyed more information than the script did. The only visual disappointment arose from an omission. While on the rooftops of Savannah the survivors often reference the thousands of walking dead on the streets below. We even see billows of dust arising from the streets from the sheer numbers of undead. Unfortunately whenever the camera pans to the actual streets, such as times the group travels between rooftops, we only see less than a dozen zombies. As a result, the scale of the undead threat was never truly conveyed. In terms of sound, the game continues to lead its peers in delivering top quality voice work. Musical accompaniment is also delivered to great effect in part through its sparse use. Having grown accustomed to undead grunts as the audio backdrop for some of the marque game moments, the introduction of music in Episode 5 during a few key sequences helped them to stand apart.
A true and proper assessment of the decision making game mechanic of The Walking Dead series can finally be made after experiencing the final installment. It is true that, regardless of player decisions throughout all of the episodes, the game’s story hits the same key marks and all players will experience an ending that is more or less the same. It could therefore be argued that the touted story customization is merely aesthetic and does not impact the overall story. I have come to a different conclusion. Even though the destination was the same regardless of the in-game choices, the path I took during the journey differed. Not only that, the journey was a richer and more rewarding experience because it was influenced by my actions. In essence the Lee Everett I took through the game was a flawed but noble protagonist, not because that is how Telltales Games envisioned him, but because that is who he became based on my choices. This was never more abundantly clear than when Lee was confronted by Episode 5’s main villain. In a tense standoff I learned that the villain’s motivation for terrorizing Lee was based on an in-game decision I made during Episode 2. After discovering this, my mind raced to how the story would have unfolded had I acted differently those many months ago. I’m sure Lee would have had the same confrontation but the context leading to it would have been vastly different. Therefore for those who feel that the journey is as important as the destination, if not more, the Telltale story customization will feel nothing short of a resounding success.
The Walking Dead, Episode 5 “No Time Left” caps one of the most memorable gaming experiences I have had in a long time. The weak puzzles and short length are easily overshadowed by the frantic pacing, rich presentation, and a decision making mechanic that brings the story and characters to life. Episode 5 is a wonderful bookend to a journey that all gaming fans should experience. In a game world where the dead have risen, The Walking Dead’s story delivers a few sage insights on life.
Release date : 2012-11-20
Publisher : Telltale Games
Developer : Telltale Games
Gameplay : Adventure
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