By Tyler Lubben / May 21st, 2014
Disclaimer: While I’ll do what I can do avoid major spoilers in this newest episode, I will be assuming that readers have at least played through the first season of the game. Continue at your own peril.
|Title||The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 3 – In Harm’s Way
|Release Date||March 4, 2014|
|Platform||PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita, iOS, Ouya|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature – Intense Violence, Blood and Gore,
While the disclaimer at the beginning of this review has, for the most part, been enough to warn readers about spoilers, I feel I must make special mention of a particular revelation in The Walking Dead’s previous episode that I’m not going to be able to avoid talking about in this review. After reaching the ski lodge in A House Divided, Clementine and company met a group of friendly survivors, among whom was Kenny, one of the major characters thought to have died in Season 1. As this is a pretty big deal, I suggest you play through the previous episode before reading any further. You have been double-warned.
After the confrontation with Bill Carver at the end of the previous episode, Clementine and the remaining survivors are taken prisoner and transported to their captors’ base, where Carver seems to have set up a defensible and productive society in the remains of a big box hardware store. With ample food and resources, it seems like a utopia… if you can look past the fact that Carver rules with intimidation and violence to keep things on track. New arrivals and other ne’er-do-wells are locked in a fenced off outdoor section of the building. Good behavior and hard work can (allegedly) get you into Carver’s good graces, earning you the right to live inside the building proper. Until then, however, you’re little more than a slave; forced to do hard, sometimes dangerous, work to fortify the building from the Walkers outside. It might seem like a good setup from Carver’s perspective, but there’s one thing he should learn: Nobody puts Clem in a corner. So begins a brand new adventure story of escape and, possibly, revenge (if the mood strikes me).
A new location means new, friendly faces, right? Well, only sort of. Players were introduced (or re-introduced for 400 Days players) to Bonnie in the previous episode, seemingly one of Carver’s inner circle. Despite this, she still seems like a compassionate person, and begins to have reservations about Carver’s methods. Troy, on the other hand, is very much in favor of Carver’s violent tendencies, he himself having no qualms with knocking around anyone who gets out of line – male or female, adult or child. In the “detention” area, Clementine meets Reggie, a friendly man who lost an arm to a Walker attack. He’s a well-meaning guy, but definitely not tough enough for Carver’s world. We’re then introduced to Mike, who seems at odds with Kenny, at first, but this passes quickly. Finally, there’s a quiet nameless woman who seems to be hiding a certain ferocity beneath the surface of her unassuming demeanor. I truly wasn’t too interested in the characters introduced in this episode – these probably being the weakest aspect of the episode. However, I’m hoping things will pick up more as they get more fleshed out later on.
As the base is, more or less, safe from the Walkers, the series’ trademark quick-time events are much less prominent in this episode. Instead, a greater emphasis is put on the social aspect of the game – planning the escape with your group, and building trust between new and old allies. As much of what needs to be done involves stealth, almost everyone in the group depends on Clementine due to her ability to slip in and out of areas unseen. Not only that, but Clementine is also beginning to assert herself more in the adults’ conversations, and is increasingly intolerant of people who say she’s “just a kid.” Eventually, when the QTEs do start popping up, it’s some of the best combat yet this season, showing that Clementine can take down Walkers with the best of them.
Throughout the first season of The Walking Dead, I locked horns with Kenny on many different issues as Lee, but, in the situation with Carver, I had absolutely no problem standing united with him on every facet of our escape plan. Every act of violence committed by Carver or his cronies only succeeded in further cementing the desire to not only escape this prison, but also see it burned to the ground… with zombies. Kenny was best at reflecting my rage, so, naturally, I was predisposed to agreeing with just about anything he had to say. As such, despite my distaste for him in Season 1, I slowly found myself caring about Kenny more and more, especially considering he seems to be much more concerned about Clementine’s own wellbeing – something that wasn’t really explored in the previous season. I keep trying to remind myself of Rule #1, but it isn’t easy. I know this will only make it all the worse when something inevitably happens to him, but I just can’t help it.
Not surprisingly, because of the very obvious black-and-white comparisons between your group and Carver, In Harm’s Way had some of the easiest moral choices of any Walking Dead episode up to this point. Carver is possibly the least sympathetic character ever to come out of either season. Even the St. Johns and the Stranger in Season 1, while still performing reprehensible acts, could elicit at least a little sympathy after seeing that this brave new world was simply too much for them to handle, causing them to snap. Carver, on the other hand, is just straight up evil. He seems to have capitalized on the chaos of the post-apocalyptic world, and used it to become god of his own little universe. Because of this, your choices are easy – do and say things conducive to escaping Carver. If someone thinks it’s too risky, shut them down. I’ve never felt so sure about what I wanted to do going into an episode before. The correct answers were just so obvious here.
As I see it, this is easily the best episode so far this season in terms of story and character development. I just hope that the newly-introduced characters will have a stronger showing as we move on. Without giving too much away, things with Carver are definitely resolved by the end of the episode. I actually found this surprising. I was sure we’d have to deal with him for the duration of the season, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect in the next episode now. It was easy to work with Kenny when we had a clear goal, but, now that we’re out on our own again, will he fall back into his old, bull-headed ways? As the original group members continue to dwindle, and new survivors take their places, it’s going to be harder and harder for things to stay cohesive. Will I be able to keep everyone together, or am I going to have to face the cold, hard reality that I need to look out for number one? At this moment, I’m feeling thick as thieves with Kenny, as well as the rest of the group, but if The Walking Dead has taught me anything, it’s that the curveballs are coming, and the outcome isn’t going to be pretty.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 is available on Amazon:
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