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 5 – No Going Back
|Release Date||August 26, 2014|
|Platform||PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita, iOS, Ouya|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature – Intense Violence, Blood and Gore,
Sexual Themes, Strong Language
There’s something that someone told me about Clementine during the first season of The Walking Dead that I really took to heart: “She’ll die a little girl if you treat her like one. You gotta consider her a living person. That’s it. You’re either living or you’re not. You ain’t little, you ain’t a girl, you ain’t a boy, you ain’t strong or smart. You’re alive.” It’s something that stuck with me for the remainder of the season, and it was still very present in my mind as I started up the first episode of Season 2. It’s something that I always remembered any time someone told me I was too little for a given task, and it was an excuse I never fell back on when I was feeling threatened. With every fallen member of Clementine’s group, more of the burden fell to her to try to keep things going smoothly. Of course, this is The Walking Dead; things never go smoothly. So, was the finale a suitable ending for the season? Well… maybe you should just read on.
After Jane slipped away from the group, and left me holding the bag with a group of angry assailants at the end of Episode 4 (which is ironic since she’s the one who actually stole the bag of medicine), the inevitable firefight ensues. How everyone wasn’t blown away the instant the bullets started flying, I’ll never know. But I digress. After the hectic opening, the group is on the road again, but not without a few more cracks in the armor. With a prisoner now in tow and Kenny long since past the end of his rope, it’s up to Clementine to decide whose corner she’s going to stand in for the good of not just the group as a whole, but also its newest and most vulnerable member.
Surprisingly, No Going Back was a very quiet episode. With the threat from outside forces like Carver dealt with, and a reduced number of Walker attacks, No Going Back is almost completely made up of conversations with your fellow survivors, and trying to find ways to keep the group together. This isn’t easy, however, as Clementine finds herself between an increasingly short-tempered Kenny, and a number of other members who want to distance themselves from him before the worst occurs. Whether or not it’s possible — or even worth it — for Kenny to be redeemed is up to each player to decide. After Episode 3, I had wondered what would be next to threaten the harmony of the group, but I never thought to look within to find the answer.
As this episode is predominantly about conversing with the remaining members of your group, with very few action sequences in between, it should come as no surprise that there were no new gameplay elements introduced in the final episode. Not that I was expecting any, but I was disappointed to find that the new method of killing Walkers that Jane introduced to me in the previous episode was not explored further. Of the few Walkers that Clem does have to combat, all are dealt with by a bullet in the head, nothing more. Actually, much more of the action happens around Clementine, and she’s very often forced to watch it unfold — from firefights, beatings and other life-and-death struggles.
Sadly, I can’t help but feel that the final scene in the game ultimately fizzled out. It was emotional, yes, and there were tears, but not from my eyes. It seemed to me as though Telltale Games was trying to force the same amount of emotion that the Season 1 finale elicited, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Events from scenes only minutes prior saw to that, as I was still too horrified with my last remaining traveling companion to even begin to feel sentimental and emotional. Still, I’m just happy that Clementine actually ended up in a good place in the end. You may think that’s a spoiler, but I assure you, other people’s games may not turn out as well. While Season 1 took you to its sole, unavoidable conclusion, Season 2 has five unique possible endings. I feel that I got the best out of it, but even then, I was still left disappointed with the lack of emotion.
I was distressed to find that, as it stands, No Going Back was the weakest episode of the season. The one that should have been the culmination of events fell short and left a bad taste in my mouth. An overall lack of action, implausible personality changes and questionable actions from certain characters created a recipe for a confusing and wholly unsatisfying ending. While I’m glad that my Clementine, at least, ended up in a good place, that does little to assuage this nagging feeling that the episode as a whole was very “by-the-book,” and tried to create false emotion where it simply didn’t fit naturally. It’s too bad, because for all the potential that we saw early in the season, the finale simply wasn’t able to measure up.
So, that’s about it for the finale, but what about the season as a whole? If you’ve been following my reviews, you may notice a bit of a lopsided presentation. The opening episode was extremely strong, and probably created the most emotion of any other this season. Episode 2 was a bit weaker, but still greatly satisfying. This paved the way for Episode 3, which was easily my favorite of the season. Unfortunately, things went downhill greatly over the course of the final two episodes, with little forward momentum and character development. Of course, even The Walking Dead’s worst is still quite entertaining and memorable. As a whole, however, I just don’t think the second season was able to match the roller coaster of emotions that was the first season. Even so, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the game to anyone looking for an emotional story, a memorable cast and a protagonist whom you can’t help but root for.
Game was provided by the publisher, and is based on the PC version.
The Walking Dead – Season 2 is available on Amazon: