Ep. 5: No Time Left - 'The End... or the Beginning?'
The final stages of a game often make or break the experience. Poor endings can bring out the boo-birds, add extra pressure on sequels, or worse. Good endings, however, spark lasting memories and often create a bond between game and player. The Walking Dead: The Game thus far has had its ups and downs, but we're happy to admit that it's been an overall positive experience (or as positive as a zombie apocalypse can be). In an episodic, character- and story-driven game such as this, the ending is without a doubt the most important part of the game. After watching the credits roll in Episode Five: No Time Left, we can safely say with pride (and a tear in our eyes) that this is one of the best games of 2012.
(If you haven't played prior episodes, be aware that the following has SPOILERS)
In the first few minutes of Episode Five: No Time Left, we see how rapidly Lee's health deteriorates from the zombie lashing he took. How Lee handles his fate is completely up to the player, and developer Telltale Games artfully teases the player with hope and desperation. Because of his impending zombification, the group struggles with how to deal with him. At this point, which survivors are still alive depends largely on choices from prior episodes (for us, Clementine, Kenny, Christa and Omid are alive). In this episode of The Walking Dead: The Game, the gang is Hell-bent on saving Clementine from a kidnapping, and Lee's journey to Clementine is only trumped by his mesmerizing face off with the kidnapper.
With no government or laws and social decorum that has been thrown back into the Stone Age thanks to a zombie apocalypse, you would think that your last worry would be paying for your actions. However, The Walking Dead: The Game triumphantly comes full-circle, making Lee come to terms with his demons.
As usual, there are environmental puzzles and hoards of undead in the group's way. While the puzzles are easier than anything we've seen up to this point in a Walking Dead game, the zombie-slaying is at an all-time high. Also, because it's a final episode, Telltale wasn't shy about putting characters in harm's way. There's nonstop nail-biting drama that we wouldn't dare spoil here. But, prepare to have your jaw drop every ten minutes throughout the story.
While this may be a more somber story, there's a good balance between sob story and determined action. More so than other episodes, The Walking Dead: The Game - Episode Five: No Time Left creates a sense of urgency. The combination of Lee's pallor with Clementine's captivity thrusts Lee and the story forward like a soldier willing to dive on a live grenade for his platoon. Also, this episode has a more grim feel to it -which is really saying something considering what the group has been through so far. Because Lee is essentially dying, the conversations are closer to deathbed farewells than the panicked quarrels we've seen in the past.
After spending the past months waiting for each episode, No Time Left was a remarkable payoff for staying with Lee and Clementine throughout their ordeal. The final moments are amongst our all-time favorite endings, and our only regret in this installment of The Walking Dead: The Game is that it went by too darn quick. We can't imagine how Telltale Games could trump this experience, but we'll gladly shell out more cold-hard cash to jump back into the action if they release future The Walking Dead games down the line. Is this the end of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead games? Or, is it the beginning of something greater? We can only wait and hope.
Graphics (90) – On par with the rest of the series. The animations during zombie assaults is pulpy grit goodness.
Sound (90) – The dialogue conjures emotions, and the crunching sound of bashed zombie skulls is as good as ever.
Gameplay (98) – Zombie encounters are the best yet, and player decisions don't just shape the story, they define and punctuate Lee's character in his final moments.
Play Value (100) – A thrilling play from beginning to end. The payoffs are immense, and Clementine's emergence is convincing and real.
Final Score (96) – Bravo, Telltale Games, for making an ending worthy of praise and characters worth dying for.
John loves gaming and loves writing about games. He wants to become a known voice in the gaming community and a game designer one day.
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