Telltale Games has continually blown us away with their excellent adaption of The Walking Dead in video game form, choosing to focus on character development and emotions rather than killing and maiming zombies. The strong focus on moral decisions that actually change the story as you go along has not only been a nice selling point for the game, but has become a necessary function for the series thus far. After a lengthy delay we finally have access to the third episode, A Long Road Ahead, and while the adventure is certainly shocking, it seems to lack the same punch the first two episodes presented.
Episode 3: A Long Road Ahead picks up just after the end of the second episode. The gang are back at the motel, however tensions are running high as they are slowly running out of food and supplies, and to make matters worse, someone in the group is stealing medical supplies. Hot tempers are at boiling point, accusations are being thrown around and it seems just about everyone but Clementine has a problem with Lee. It starts on such a down note, and sets the tone for what is truly a sad and shocking episode.
While the first two episodes had their fair share of action orientated segments, A Long Road Ahead really ups the ante, throwing in a number of shooting segments where the player actually aims down the barrel of a rifle scope, taking out walkers and other threats. It’s a nice touch, adding a sense of urgency to the proceedings and creating a point of difference between the action and adventure gameplay.
The story is almost flawless, however it can seem to simply pass in the blink of an eye simply because you are going through the motions,”
While there are plenty of moral choices to be made, it feels like your decisions hold less weight in the proceedings this time around. There is one section in particular where no matter what choice you make, the same person must die. It’s fair enough that Telltale have to include segments like these for the sake of story, but it was blatantly obvious that no matter which route I took, there was nothing I could do to change the outcome.
While there are plenty of interesting dialogue trees to explore, the complete lack of real puzzles is simply astounding in this episode. This is by far the most linear episode in the series thus far, relying entirely on tensions between the characters, fast dialogue sequences and combat to pull it through. The final act is the only section where any true puzzles appear, and they are so easy to solve that I expect that most gamers could solve them within a few moments. While I appreciate the great lengths the developer has gone to deliver an emotional rollercoaster, this episode feels more like an interactive book than a game at times.
That’s where Telltale have really let the ball drop on this release. The story is almost flawless, however it can seem to simply pass in the blink of an eye simply because you are going through the motions, rather than using your wit to progress.
If you have been a fan of the series thus far, A Long Road Ahead won’t disappoint. It delivers some truly shocking moments that allow us to delve deeper into the characters and learn more about them as they move forward. However as far as the gameplay is concerned, this episode is seriously lacking. Instead of playing out as an interesting mix of action and adventure like previous entires, it feels more like an interactive story. It’s not a bad thing, but it will surely upset some fans.