The first episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead was one of its finest adventures games; melding stomach-churning violence with a character-driven narrative worth paying attention to. With a fantastic cast of survivors and a presentation ready to stand toe-to-toe with any graphic novel on the market, it was difficult to not get amped about the eventual second episode.
After over a month of anxious waiting, Starved for Help is here to satisfy the undying hunger for the continued tale of Lee and company. Done with basic introductions and back story, Episode 2 is filled to the brim with action and unforeseeable twists – letting the player guide the outcome of established, real characters. It’s a hell of a ride, and one that fans of the first episode shouldn’t miss.
Here’s what we liked:
Masterful writing – Great writing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when discussing zombie games, but not all games centered on the undead are crafted by Telltale. The developer established a solid narrative base with its first episode and never lets up in Starved for Help. The inconsistencies seen in A New Day are mostly absent this time around, and with even more characters and decisions to take into account, that’s a special feat.
Smart, affecting violence – Showing brutal scenes just for kicks isn’t exactly impressive, but Starved for Help smartly ups the ante because the story calls for it. Disturbing, irksome events take place that will bring squeamish onlookers to avert their eyes, but the shock and emotional force these moments bring is worth the highly mature tactic. Terrible things may happen to someone you’ve grown to care about and while that’s not exactly fun to watch, the violence displayed leaves an undeniable impact.
True suspense – This isn’t a game riddled with clichés and formulaic outcomes, as Starved for Help offers legitimate surprise around every terrifying corner. Opinions on characters quickly change, personalities once thought to be integral fall and choices previously made for the good of the order turn into mistakes impossible to rescind. Like the first episode, nothing is black and white. It’s not about choosing between right and wrong, but rather what seems more logical to specific character’s needs at the time. Nothing’s stable in this particular apocalypse, and because of that, things can quickly fall apart.
The right amount of content – Starved for Help, like the first episode, doesn’t overstay its welcome. The player is given an action-packed, heart-pounding few hours of fun, and while it’s difficult to not just want to jump into the next adventure due to Telltale’s alluring cliffhanger, the bang for your buck here is just right. It’s a complete chapter in the overall narrative, and one that should be digested before rushing toward what happens next.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Consistent technical hiccups – The hitching and stuttering that was seen in the first episode is back with a vengeance in Starved for Help, and these instances are just as distracting as before. It’s a shame to see the game stop and almost calculate the outcome after each major decision made, and while it still isn’t so bad that it breaks the game, it doesn’t do anything to help it. The development time between episodes is short, but the Telltale team needs to allot just a bit of it to polish what’s currently a pretty rough experience.
It’d be nice to see it run more smoothly, and a few pivotal decisions don’t make as much of a difference as they should, but Starved for Help is still a wonderful adventure game with a killer story. What was great about the previous episode is still enjoyable this time around, and in many ways, the events are both more emotionally impactful and enjoyable to play through. Telltale’s take on The Walking Dead series only seems to be getting better, and if the preview at the end of this episode is any indication, what’s yet to come will be more than worth the wait.
Score: Buy It!
The Walking Dead was developed and published by Telltale Games. It was released on June 29, 2012 for $4.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.