After playing the first two episodes back to back and enjoying them thoroughly, anticipation levels were fairly high for the third instalment of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead.
Titled ‘Long Road Ahead’, the action resumes a week after the events of Episode 2, as we find our intrepid survivors still holed up in the motor inn, in search of the last of Macon’s meagre supplies, and sees group leader Lilly becoming increasingly paranoid about disappearing medicinal stock.
The time comes to up sticks and leave the town, particularly with homebase under siege by both the living dead and the living living, in the form of a parasitic bandit group intent on letting your group do all the hard graft to gather the supplies before grabbing them for themselves.
It definitely feels like the series is really settling into its stride (a shambling, slow-moving, arms out-in-front kind of stride perhaps, but a stride nonetheless). With the announcement of a second season to follow, it feels like there’s breathing room in the plot to allow the characters to develop – although which characters develop will of course depend on who you’ve chosen to rescue previously.
Inevitably, the spectre of death hangs over much of the game, with Lee still reeling from the confrontation with his zombified brother, searching for the pharmacy keys back in Episode 1. You see how he looks differently at the walkers, haunted by the likelihood that everyone he ever knew or loved will (or already have) fall foul of the undead – and that every one of the walking dead themselves was once beloved of someone.
This is a somewhat different attitude to most video games, where death is merely the order of the day as mindless cannon fodder line up to sieve your bullets. The contemplative mood, scarcity of weapons (at one point I was left imploring Lee not to give his axe away, cursing his nice guy impulses!) and emphasis on variety of gameplay means that when you are attacked and must feverishly tap ‘Q’ as part of a quicktime event, it still has an impact.
Puzzle-wise, there’s a fun sequence where you and your crew have to stop the ever-reliable RV and must navigate somehow past a huge, partially de-railed freight train. It’s classic point-and-click stuff, and while not particularly challenging, it’s pleasant to have a relaxing, thought-provoking sequence in this blood-and-thunder digital world we gamers have adjusted to.
Without giving away too much of the plot, there’s another heart-rending climax to offset the triumph of movement once you solve the train conundrum, and then I’m afraid there’s a long wait until October or thereabouts for the next instalment.
As those who are addicted to any long-running series knows, be it videogame, TV or comics, the wait for your next fix can be brutal. The fact that I’m already feeling restless pangs of zombie withdrawal means that The Walking Dead has got all the ingredients of a classic serial.
By Sam Gill
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Price: £3.99 (requires Ep 1 & 2 to play)
Developer: Telltale games
Publisher: Telltale games