Have you ever played a game that made you cry? I bet you have, haven’t you? I’m not talking about a game that brings you to tears through sheer frustration either, but through actual emotional connections with digital characters. Well done. You genuinely care for pixel.
Don’t worry though for I am one of you! Until very recently such a phenomenon had only happened to me once (when Aeris died in Final Fantasy 7, for those that are curious) but Telltale’s third episode in their Walking Dead adventure game series titled Long Road Ahead absolutely destroyed me.
Of course, I mean that in a good way. Episodes one and two were hardly a dawdle in cuddly, wuddly town but Long Road Ahead marks a turning point for the series. Whereas the first and second were shocking through primarily their use of graphic violence and gore, episode three is chock full of moments akin to ‘that’ moment of brotherly love episode one. Totally comprised of gut wrenching moral decisions and moments that won’t just make you feel deep disgust but also bring heartbreak, profound sadness and helplessness. Jolly good stuff!
All of which is its saving grace because when you actually analyse Telltale’s third installment not a lot happens. Far more dialogue driven than the previous two episodes, Long Road Ahead’s tour de force, a barrage of heart string pulling sequences, transforms it from what would’ve been a very dull adventure into one of the most memorable gaming experiences of the last decade. A roller-coaster of emotions rather than actual events.
The whole thing is decidedly odd really. Despite the episodes lack of action and occurences it still manages to top the previous two installments and become the pinacle of the series thus far.
Beyond the change of pace, there really isn’t anything massively different. It looks the same as episodes one and two, it plays like episodes one and two, and unfortunately it also suffers from the same sort of graphical bugs and glitches which have plagued the previous inclusions in the series. Very little has changed. If anything it’s been detracted through Long Road Ahead’s dialogue heavy approach. But for some reason its just that little bit better.
A flawed masterpiece but a masterpiece nonetheless.
Graphics: 4/5 – A pleasing cell shaded art style that resembles the original comic book‘s look (apart from the fact that it’s in colour).
Sound: 5/5 – Atmospheric music and great vocal performances that really enhance to more gut-wrenching moments.
Gameplay: 4/5 – Although not dramatically different from the last two episodes, there is a greater focus on dialogue and decision making in this episode. When the series first started we all wondered how Telltale could possibly tie all of these varying decisions from previous episodes together, and now that we’re over half way through the series we can start to see everything coming together.
Longevity: 4/5 – Although this episode will likely only take about two hours to complete it is rammed full of major choices that will have a massive impact on future episodes.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
The Walking Dead Episode 3 is an essential purchase for any gamer that wants a mature grown up experience. This episode starts to bring all of the dangling threads together just in time for the final two episodes, and we can’t wait for the series to continue.