Friday, 23 May 2014

The Walking Dead Season 2 - Episode 3: "In Harm's Way" review

This review will contain SPOILERS from previous episodes of The Walking Dead. You have been warned...

Telltale Games have proven time and time again that they are the masters of narrative-driven games. They consistently deliver emotionally charged stories and situations, and throw in many intensly exciting action set-pieces. For the first time in season two, walkers are not your primary enemy, and you must instead navigate what is basically a prison, run by an extremely psychotic individual known as Carver. If Clem or any of the others step one foot out of line, they could pay with their lives, as Carver will not let them forget. Does "In Harm's Way" live up to the high standards of the previous episodes? Read our full review below to find out...

Clem and the gang arrive at their new, hostile home

There will be minor spoilers from this episode, as it's hard to review a narrative-driven game without mentioning said narrative. The episode starts off with an oddly peaceful scene, as Clementine watches a butterfly in some woods. It's a stark contrast to the following ninety minutes or so, in what is the most affecting episode of The Walking Dead so far. There are a handful of new characters (if you played the "400 Days" DLC, you will recognise a couple of faces), some of which are good at heart, but others are downright evil, and it's the notorious Carver that is probably the most memorable character that the series has seen so far. He is unforgiving, cruel, and somehow tries to justify his actions with his "for the greater good" mentality. Michael Madsen provides the voice for Carver, and he puts in an unforgettable performance as the most spiteful character that the gaming world has seen for years.

There aren't many scenes where you move around and explore the environment, which brings an interesting change of pace to the series. There is much more talking in this episode than in previous offerings, both with your fellow survivors and a handful of your captors. Clementine will mainly talk with Bonnie and the awful Troy inside the camp, but there are a few chilling conversations with Carver that Clem will not forget anytime soon. The script-writing really is phenomenal, and even after eight successful episodes, the writers at Telltale aren't losing their touch. This is probably the most emotional episode of The Walking Dead so far (bar Lee's final moments in season one), as people you know and love are repeatedly hurt, both emotionally and physically. It's honestly hard to watch some of the scenes.

The infamous Bill Carver, truly more terrifying than a herd of walkers

The bar was set pretty damn high, but "In Harm's Way" has come along and raised it even further. There are moments of deep sadness, and there are moments of overwhelming joy, all wrapped up in an expertly written package. The script, as always, is spot on, and all of the voice actors and actresses have done a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life. Clementine is more mature than ever, and even when tested by someone as evil as Bill Carver, she will stand up for her friends and what she believes to be right. There is definitely a lot more conversing in this episode, but it makes sense with the claustrophobic, prison-like setting. This is the best episode of The Walking Dead yet, and I don't just mean in season two. It's videogame storytelling at it's best.


by Louis Gardner

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