Telltale Games have done it again, but this time it’s bigger and better than ever. After the first season of their gameification of The Walking Dead was met with great acclaim, I found it difficult to see where they could take the sequel. Much like with the graphic novel and the television series, The Walking Dead as a franchise has a habit of trying to one up itself, and it seemed like a second season could have been too much of an ask for them. It’s as though the franchise as a whole feels like it needs to find new ways to shock and disgust us, to drag us in and spit us out all chewed up and emotional. Telltale have managed to do this perfectly with every episode of their game series so far, and ‘In Harm’s Way’ is no exception. This second season has, thus far, blown me away and, from the outset it has you glued to the screen, absorbed in every word and every moment, and it doesn’t let you go for a single second.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this episode in the series since the second episode of the season was released, what felt like almost an eternity ago. Days have passed by as I constantly browsed the internet and checked Telltale’s Twitter feed to see any announcement of when episode three was on its way. Today, my moment finally arrived and as I hit that download button and waited for the bar to reach 100%, I sat quietly and contemplated what sort of rollercoaster Telltale might be taking me on. My ten minutes of thoughtfulness ill prepared me for episode 3 and, whilst writing this review, I still feel as though I’m in a state of mild shock … though that could also be the come down from all of the adrenaline or the excitement building up in my belly for episode 4. Who knows. It’s hard to know where to start with this review and I don’t want to be giving away any spoilers. So I guess I’ll just have to write about how it made me “feel”. That’s right, kids. It’s sharing time.
In Harm’s Way picks up where we left off in the second episode, following Clementine as she tries to bond with her new group and make sense of the events that are unfolding. There’s a lot going on in this episode. Hell … there’s a lot going on in the entire season! For me, it makes remembering names quite tough and their backstories seem to get a little interwoven in my mind at times. Still, I like that there is a wealth of wonderfully voiced characters in this game and it’s more than worth the, sometimes confusing, task of talking to each character in the group. This episode sees you finding out more information on what happened to the new group before they met Clem, who the hell this Carver dude is and, in the process, you learn a little about Clementine and yourself. It’s one of those games that left me feeling emotionally drained at the end, which is something that Telltale have down to a T of late.
“in episode three, the line is just a faint smudge”
There are plenty of twists in this episode and a couple of real shocks to go with it. To say that I didn’t see the big events coming would be an understatement. It’s got to the point where I can’t predict where they will take the episode and the characters anymore, and for me that’s fantastic. It leaves you in the dark to really explore the game and feel genuinely surprised when a character does something that you weren’t expecting. As always, there are plenty of tough choices to make – some of which might leave you feeling a little worse for wear. Something that I noticed in the last few episodes is that the line between good and bad was getting incredibly blurred. Now, in episode three, the line is just a faint smudge. I didn’t have a clue which option was the ‘right’ option, my moral compass was pointing me in every single direction throughout the game. Most of the time I just went with my gut. It made me think “what would I do in this situation?” as opposed to “how would clementine act?”. I think that’s an incredible testament to the writing and Melissa Hutchison’s delivery of Clementine, and the cast of voice actors as a whole. At no point in the episode did I feel like I was outside of it all, I honestly put myself in Clem’s position as everything just fit so perfectly into place. To be honest, I almost forgot that I was playing a game. The fact that I started playing at about 1pm and finished it at 3pm, without any breaks and just one pause, is astounding because it felt like I had only been playing for five minutes. I was so immersed that time shot by without me even knowing it, I was truly in a zombie apocalypse for those two hours.
At the very end of the episode there was a single decision that summed up both the game series and the entire franchise, for me at least. I’m not going to say what it was but, for almost two or three seconds after I had made that incredibly difficult choice, I just sat with my hand in the air. I don’t know why. I just did. I felt like I needed to do something to let loose all of the emotion and excitement that had been building up throughout the episode. I finally dropped my hand and managed to murmur the words “oh my God” before turning off my Xbox and making my way towards my computer to write this article. The word “superb” doesn’t do justice to this episode. Neither does “fantastic” nor “brilliant” nor “sensational”. The feelings that I had whilst playing In Harm’s Way are almost beyond description. All I can say is go and play this game, download this episode and immerse yourself in the story. Then maybe you’ll understand how perfect the experience of playing this episode truly is. Yep … I think that’s the best I can do.