Minor Spoilers for the end of Episode 1
Telltale has finally released the second episode of their interactive story adventure that is based in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead universe. Much like A New Day you’ll be choosing dialogue options, completing basic puzzles and making choices that will have consequences.
The story picks up three months after the end of first episode, where Lee Everett and his band of survivors have fortified their camp against the walkers. However, as the title alludes, food has become an issue; meaning that the group has been forced to ration their resources and forage in the surrounding woods. However, they soon encounter another group who have a much better camp with better fortifications and a much better stock of food.
Based on your choices in A New Day, your group might look different from someone else’s, and you may have different relationships with certain characters. Like A New Day, Starved for Help continues to explore the very slow fracturing of human society after the zombie apocalypse. Relationships amongst Lee and the others become ever more frayed as the world around them becomes all the more disturbing and dangerous. The player walks a delicate path where they try to stay true to their previous civilized morals that are at the same time confronted by the harshness of their new savage world. This is undoubtedly the game’s biggest strength, and shows an understanding of what makes The Walking Dead so interesting.
The gameplay in episode two remains the exact same as it did in the first. You’ll interact with different points, complete different puzzles and of course choose different dialogue options in a limited time frame (à la Alpha Protocol). The gameplay is in service to the narrative however – as opposed to a game like Left 4 Dead 2 where the story is merely a backdrop to the action and cooperative mayhem. And that’s what really is important in Telltale’s The Walking Dead game – the narrative. Repairing a fence isn’t all that exciting, yet when I know that it makes sense to the context of the story it’s enjoyable. Scenes of tension and violence punctuate the narrative perfectly and allows you to reflect on their importance in the game’s calmer moments – which gives them more impact and makes them more meaningful. The pacing of the plot and the way that it flows from point to point is handled incredibly well.
The game’s stylized comic book aesthetic continues to be used nicely, giving it a unique sense of style. The music is also put to great use, and creates an excellent mood and atmosphere for each and every scenario – whether it’s a nice and tranquil one, or one filled with danger and peril.
The game isn’t without technical faults, however. While playing the 360 version, the game seemed to freeze and stutter when moving from scene to scene at times. It’s minor, yet still noteworthy as it breaks the immersion and at times the tension of the experience when it occurs.
Even with that minor flaw however, Starved for Help (and A New Day!) is a must play for anyone who is a fan of interactive narrative. Telltale has shown that the characters and story they have created are incredibly well realized and fit perfectly within Kirkman’s dark zombie-filled world. Episode 3 can’t come soon enough!
Tested on 360