The Walking Dead – “Starved For Help” (Episode Two)
Welcome back to the second review of the series. As I explained in the review of episode one, all future reviews (including this one) will be a plot summary with my thoughts added in as I go. There will be spoilers, so do not read any further if you want to experience this episode for yourself.
There is a non-spoiler review in episode one, in case you’re interested in buying the game and want more information, located here:
Editor’s Note: This game is pretty graphic and describing the plot requires me to be so as well. If you are squeamish, then reading the following would not be a good idea. You’ve been warned.
Episode one was pretty darned good, weaving a tale of trust and betrayal amongst the ever-growing threat of zombie attacks. I left the group of survivors at a motel, though the electricity in the plan cut out just as the episode ended. In my game, I chose to save Carley, so your story may be slightly different than mine.
We find out from the very start that three months had passed and the food was just about gone. Tempers are flaring and people are hungry. Lily assumed a leadership role, though Kenny seems to challenge her authority. Larry, Lily’s father, is still a blowhard…but his heart condition seems to have stabilized. Clementine and Duck are passing the time as best they can, and the others seem to be doing the same. The outlook didn’t seem good.
The opening scene features Lee walking in the woods with a new character by the name of Mark. Some of the above is revealed through dialogue just to catch the player up, though it is cut short by screams for help. We come upon a teacher and two teenagers, though the teacher appears caught in a bear trap that has no release latch. The zombie horde approaches, and I’m quickly thrust into making a decision with the axe I’m holding.
The option to cut the man’s leg was visible, but I opted to try everything else to no avail. The game did an excellent job in making me feel rushed, between the music and the other characters present arguing over what to do with the teacher. Some of my group said that we had to leave him, while the students insisted that we help save him. The game put me in a very uncomfortable position, making me choose between hacking a man’s leg off or leaving him to die. I tried everything else, but I guess there was a hidden timer because I was forced to run away just as I was about to go for the leg. I don’t know if cutting the leg off was actually an option…but still…it unerved me. One of the students went for the gun and blew his stomach off in the process. We watch as Lee and his group run away with the one healthy and one near dead teenager in tow.
Back at the motel, the power struggle continues. I’m given four pieces of food to hand out to the survivors and its obvious that some will go hungry. Again, the game puts me in the position of deciding who will eat and who will go hungry. The game really made me uncomfortable…but I really commend it for pushing the boundaries in this manner. I really enjoy playing out these kinds of choices. I decided to feed the two kids, Clementine and Duck, and two of the three women. Some of the men complained, but Kenny complimented by decision in taking care of the kids.
The near dead teenager dies, then comes back to life as a zombie. I was put through some quick time sequences, mashing on buttons and having to click the zombie in places before I met my demise. We grilled the other teenager after it was all said and done as to why he had turned if he hadn’t been bit, but it is revealed that everyone is infected and upon death, reanimate, bite or not. The others don’t know what to believe…I must admit that I didn’t believe him at first either. People lie, and it’s possible he was trying to save his friend…after all, he knew our group wouldn’t let in anyone who had been bitten.
Two more strangers show up claiming to be brothers, wanting to exchange fuel for food. They claim to own a farm and invite everyone over for dinner. Lee and some others go, and the brothers started grilling me with questions en route. I got the feeling that they were fishing for info and gathering intelligence, so I kept my answers short and changed the subject where possible. We find the St. John farm to be surrounded by an electric fence and fields of crops…the offer is quickly made to bring everyone else over…but I still didn’t trust them.
While doing a perimeter sweep, some bandits show up and shoot Mark in the shoulder, though Lee and the injured Mark narrowly escape back to the house. Lee and one of the brothers are sent on a reconnaissance mission to find one of the bandits’ hideouts.
So far, I was really enjoying the story. I didn’t know who to trust…the mother and brothers of the farm seemed too friendly for my tastes, and the attack from the bandits couldn’t be coincidence. I wasn’t happy to see that the others had shown up, minus Carley and the surviving teen as they stayed behind to watch the motel. I just didn’t trust these farmers. I wanted to slow the game down and investigate more before bringing the group inside the farm…but the story continued regardless.
The reconnaissance mission introduced us to a crazed women (who ended up being blown away by the brother I was with) and we end up finding a video recorder and Clementine’s lost hat. Had she been stalking us? How’d she get Clementine’s hat? Unfortunately, the crazed woman was dead so I was unable to ask her.
Back at the farm, Lee begins to suspect something when he finds a door locked in the barn. Dinner is just about ready and after finding a way to keep the brother in the barn distracted, I manage to open the door. It’s literally a bloodbath…no bodies…but I had seen this kind of thing before in the game, Fallout 3. It became apparent to me that these people were cannibals, and when Lee finds out that steak is being served for dinner, he begins to get nervous. Using the excuse that he needed to wash his hands, he investigates the house and finds a legless Mark in a hidden room.
I kind of knew it was coming, but I was still perturbed by the scene anyway. After confronting the family and stopping the survivors from eating their steak, we’re taken prisoner and locked in a meat cooler. Larry ends up dying of a heart attack, and I’m forced to either agree with Kenny and bash Larry’s head in or try to resuscitate him to appease Lily. Kenny is afraid that Larry would come back from the dead and finish them all…even so, I tried to save Larry anyway. In the middle of CPR, Kenny grabs a block of salt lick and bashes Larry’s head in.
I couldn’t believe how gory this game was getting. My son chose that moment to wonder over to see what I was doing and I told him to find something else to do…I don’t have many games that he can’t watch, but this is definitely one of them. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you…sometimes I get tired of Dungeon Defenders and SimCity-esque games.
What follows next is an escape attempt, followed by a string of events that leads to the death of all three of the family members. The whole cannibalism horror story has been done before, but I wasn’t bored by any means. The survivors head back to the motel, minus Larry and Mark, though they manage to find an abandoned car with food and supplies in it. My last decision of the game involved me deciding whether or not we should take the food and supplies, as the owner was nowhere to be seen. This was the first time I went against Clementine’s wishes and decided to take the food…though in my defense, the car was abandoned. Why waste? Anyway, we find batteries and play back the video recorder Lee found at the crazed women’s campsite and it is revealed that she was indeed stalking us. That’s where the episode ends.
First, I have to commend Telltale in developing yet another story that made me uncomfortable. There aren’t many games that make me jump…but this game turned out to be one of them. I’m glad that there weren’t a lot of puzzles, though some of the quick time events came on so quick that I died because I couldn’t get to the keys fast enough. If anything, that is the only thing I didn’t like about the game…though to be fair, it made the “oh crap” moments that much more intense.
I was beginning to really become invested in the characters, so much that I actually cared that I had pissed off Kenny for siding with Lily. I also felt really bad for going against Clementine’s wishes when I took the food at the end of the game, even though we really needed it. It’s obvious that you can’t make everyone happy or like you in this game…just like in real life. Sure, other games have done the loyalty system bit, but very few actually made me FEEL BAD about my actions.
The game took me about an hour and a half to play and I completed it all in one sitting. The plot itself was a lot more engaging than the last one…more was definitely at stake. Sadly, zombies weren’t the primary antagonist in this episode…but I hope that the next episode remedies that as opposed to focusing on those bandits. I’m more interested in finding out if what the teenager said about everyone being infected already is true.
I honestly can’t wait for the third episode…and I have a feeling that if you ended up playing this game as well, you wouldn’t be able to wait either. So far, The Walking Dead gets two thumbs up from me. Stay tuned for episode three’s review, whenever that happens to be released.
Final Verdict: 9/10