The Walking Dead: Episode Two – Starved for Help|
Based on the Eisner award-winning comic book series with an AMC television adaptation of the same name, The Walking Dead is an episodic horror action adventure game by Telltale Games of Sam & Max fame, taking place at the onset of the zombie apocalypse preceding the events of the comics and TV show.
Ep.2 “Starved For Help” picks up a few months after “A New Day” left off, importing your choices from the last episode and reflecting the consequences of those choices. Tensions are running high at the camp with power struggles between some of the characters, and food is running low. How you decided to treat various characters in the last episode impacts how they think of the main character, Lee, and how willing they might be to help him out.
As before, this adventure-action hybrid may be light on challenging puzzles, but it does an excellent job of keeping the pressure on with timed conversation replies and plot choices, as well as action scenes that require Lee to quickly deliver a kick or axe blow to someone in order to stay alive. Adventure games typically aren’t known for quickening pulses, but “Starved For Help” does this well. Last time, I praised “A New Day” for its surprisingly effective portrayal of lifelike characters, creepy atmosphere, and robust storytelling. “Starved For Help” continues to deliver amply in these departments and—without giving away any spoilers—is seriously more intense than the first episode. I can’t really say much more, but this episode will force Lee to take sides and make enemies, witness some truly ghastly events, and make tough moral choices. For veterans of this genre, the general direction of the story isn’t much of a surprise, but that doesn’t detract at all from the experience. If this second episode is any indication, the series is only going to get better.
As before, the art, sound, and overall presentation are outstanding. “Starved For Help” naturally uses the same gritty, hand-drawn looking 3D graphics with ink-lined and painted textures that fit really well with the game’s comic-book roots. The environments, too, are still beautifully detailed (if often gruesome) and a joy to explore.
Like Ep. 1, Ep. 2 goes for 400 Microsoft Points ($5.00 US dollars) and a single play-through took me about three hours. For entertainment spanning the time of approximately two full-length movies in a single play-through, I’d say this is a pretty decent deal. Moreover, no doubt, the choices you make in this episode will, again, have an impact on the story farther down the line, further increasing The Walking Dead’s cumulative replay value. It’s a good thing Telltale gives you three save slots for three different Lees. I’m rather curious how my upstanding, fatherly Lee’s play-through will compare with that of a more dastardly version.
In closing, The Walking Dead: Ep. 2 “Starved For Help” is disgusting, harrowing, and utterly enjoyable. It’s even humorous at times, going so far as to poke fun at itself for the last episode’s battery puzzle. All said, if you enjoy the zombie genre, I’d definitely recommend “Starved For Help” for a night in. I know I can’t wait to play the next three episodes.