If you have been following our Walking Dead reviews so far, you’ll know the game has been a lot less about the shooty-bang-bang and more about the protagonist’s will to survive in a horrible world, doing their best to keep out of trouble and avoiding the ‘walkers’ as much as possible. If you were after more action, Episode 3: Long Road Ahead won’t leave you disappointed in what is the most serious and dark episode of the series so far.
As in previous episodes, this one starts with you controlling central character, Lee, and in a rather horrible beginning has to decide if a young woman being chased by walkers will be saved but draw attention, or left to be killed, effectively used as bait so himself and Kenny can go unnoticed. After that you will walk around talking to companions in a sort of recap of what happened last time as well as setting the tone for the current episode.
Unlike previous episodes though, it’s not long before you are thrown into an action packed segment with you taking the scope of a sniper rifle and protecting your friends from walkers and bandits as they hurry into the RV so you can make your escape. In a completely different sort of action than usual, each enemy takes but a single hit to take down but the constant need to watch all sides, switching between the left and right sides of the RV make for some tense moments that The Walking Dead has excelled at all the way through the series.
There are still no traditional puzzles to speak of, with the episode focusing on getting you and your friends underway on the road to Savannah. On the way you’ll make some even tougher decisions than you are used to relating to some stolen supplies, and these decisions have the gravest consequences yet. Setting a much darker tone, it’s disheartening to push forward after certain things happen but needs must and you have to go forward.
Series constant Kenny has a tough time too in keeping with the bleak mood. No-one has it easy this time, and the subtitle of the episode is very fitting to the content. It’s not all doom and gloom however, with a particularly nice scene showing Lee and Clementine getting even closer as he teaches her to defend herself and makes plans for the two of them when they get to Savannah. It’s a nice reprieve from the nastiness that happened beforehand and furthers the relationship between the two, which is arguably the biggest plot thread in the game.
The writing in this episode is, as with previously, top notch with voice acting and scripting adding to the drama and horror. Even if not strictly positive, you will feel something for each character you meet, whether it’s liking them, not trusting them, outright not liking them or being annoyed at another mouth to feed and another person to look after. Lee can be portrayed as an honest, kind soul or he can be a horrible nasty person who is out only for himself, or should you choose it, you can play it down the middle being nasty or nice as and when it’s required. Unlike most games giving you a choice though, this has consequences, and the way it plays out might change your playstyle dramatically, in this episode especially.
It’s difficult to review the game any further. The entire thing is based around its story and characters, and I can’t go into too much detail about any of it without spoiling a prospective players experience; however what I can confidently say is that, despite the delayed release, this is the best episode yet from Telltale and they have done an excellent job at teasing the next episode’s content with a rather shocking final few minutes leading you out. The story and characterisation you don’t normally see in games is what has made this series special, where it could have simply been a shooter with some names you might recognise, or a pure adventure game with no action and a focus entirely on talking to others; the mixture of both, even with the action-lite sections are a perfect blend and it shows no signs of slowing down or going wrong.
There has actually been call across the web for a potential Game of the Year nomination here, and I don’t disagree. The storytelling, the limited but logical action sequences and the flat-out horror the game can make you feel couple with the branching, personal experience each player will have and it all ties together into a cohesive gripping plot. Roll on, Episode 4.
The Walking Dead: Episode Three (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
If you have been following our Walking Dead reviews so far, you’ll know the game has been a lot less about the shooty-bang-bang and more about the protagonist’s will to survive in a horrible world, doing their best to keep out of trouble and avoiding the ‘walkers’ as much as possible.