The Walking Dead: Episode 2
Three months on, the story continues…
Despite the fact that the episodes can be bought in any order, players must go through Episode 1 before they begin Episode 2. Starved for Help begins with a montage of all of the player’s important decisions that they made during Episode 1. The group of survivors are exactly where we left them, although the group has acquired a new member, Mark. How he came to be with the group of survivors is unexplained, but what is perfectly clear is that their situation is getting dire. The food is running out; so much so that the daily rations won’t even feed half of the survivors. Lee and his friends have to resort to hunting for crows, rabbits or even rats to get more food. While on one of these excursions, the survivors encounter three more people in a dire situation and have to decide whether to help them or leave them at the mercy of the walkers.
The emotional rollercoaster ride doesn’t get any easier as the story progresses. I can guarantee that there will be times where you’re not happy with the decision you have to make, but the alternative feels just as bad – if these are the decisions that I’d have to make in order to survive, I wouldn’t last very long in a zombie apocalypse. As heart wrenching as the story gets, it does become a little predictable in places. Zombie film clichés do crop up occasionally. My fiancé, who has never played Episode 1, arrived just in time to watch me try to solve my first puzzle. He solved it straight away as the situation had appeared in numerous zombie films and TV series.
As with the previous episode, your choices will affect how characters will react to you further into the game. In Episode 1, players always had a chance to choose the middle ground so that they could see how the situation would turn out. In Episode 2, there are few options to take the middle ground; players either have to side with Kenny or side with Lilly. Unfortunately, this time your decisions seem to have less of an impact. Whatever you decide, if it isn’t the course that the story is supposed to be following, other characters will overrule you and the story will continue. While the characters will remember your decision later, certain events are meant to be.
Puzzle solving takes even more of a backseat than it did before. Instead, conversation and quicktime events are used to further the story. While quicktime events may not sound too exciting, they’re a brilliant fit for the story and definitely manage to inject tension into the situations.
Was it worth the wait?
After initially promising one episode per month, players watched on as May came and went. June looked to do the same until a surprise announcement on June 25th revealed that the second episode would be releasing the very next day. With an extra month to add polish to the game, you would expect the episode to be perfect, but problems evident from the first cutscene seem to suggest that the episode was actually rushed out to meet a hidden deadline. There are notable pauses between scenes as the game engine struggles to load the game. At other times the scenes stutter and can grind to a halt for a second or two before the game catches up with itself.
The sound isn’t much better either. On many occasions, the sound and the lip syncing just don’t match. During one cutscene early in the game, the sound was ahead of the cutscene by a whole second. This just got worse as the episode progressed, with the stuttering becoming so bad that the sound actually rewound and replayed itself as the game struggled to cope with a scene transition.
The second episode is exactly the same length as the first, so it looks like my wish of longer episodes will not be coming to fruition. Now, all I can wish for is a properly working game. I want to carry on the story as much as the next person, but if that means waiting for three months for the third episode so that they can iron out all of the crinkles, I’d rather do that than play a rushed game in a month’s time.