Saturday, October 13, 2012

Walking Dead: Episode 4 Review

Walking Dead, Episode 4: Review (now that I've played it.) Spoilers. You will be spoiled. Do not go below the fold.

Aeris dies. Also, spoilers for The Walking Dead, Episode 4: Around Every Corner. Last chance. Seriously.

Ok, let's start with the opening. I'm trying to figure out why our group continues to make seemingly stupid decisions over and over again. Like trusting Ben. With anything. Another minor nit to pick; Chuck has a gun. Yet, he goes in with his shovel first to save Clementine in the opening. Why? Why does he not shoot along with Lee?

If we don't leave Clementine at the house (I didn't), why does no one say: "Hey, time out. Who is going to watch Omid since, you know, there's a guy stalking our house and all that?" How come, if we're going in on a stealth mission do we bring everybody and their mother? Spoiler: No actual mothers are brought. But really, if this is supposed to be a stealth mission, maybe we should, you know, have thought about being stealthy? Oh well, luck was on our side there. And by luck, I mean plot.

I also don't know what exactly you have to do to piss people off enough to not get them to come with you. I mean, Kenny hesitated at first, then I guilt-tripped him, and he threw his hat in the ring. I know it is possible to go it alone/not bring people with you, the stats screen tells me that, but do you have to go out of your way to do it? I don't know. I'm curious about the percentage of players who have Lee going it alone; did they elect to tell everyone to stay behind in a noble attempt to not burden them, or did they just piss everyone off?

Look, I think the whole scene in the school feels disjointed; the zombies that appear outside the nurse's station don't make a lot of sense. Ben has clearly had time to pick up the hatchet and bring it back to the classroom; why didn't Kenny say: "Hey, thanks for that. But go put that back, right now?" In fact, yet again, our group seems more damaged by lack of basic communication skills than any thing else. Except when Ben decides to get all warm and fuzzy and share-y. The school works as a set piece when you play through it, but looking back at it, you have a lot of moments that make you go "what?"

Like: why is there a hole in the ceiling (for Molly to jump through, of course.) I like Molly as a character, but I'm wondering how Kenny and Lee didn't notice she was a woman from when they were looking at her at the docks. Oh well, Lee and Kenny are not known for their sharp observational skills. Like, you know, somehow missing a barricade made of bodies and zombies. I'm not an elite special forces guy or a super detective but, you know, I'd consider something like that worthy of immediate comment and attention. Instead, Lee doesn't notice it till he's practically on top of it, and you can't even double back and give Kenny a warning until he comes along on his own to see it. People: If you design and adventure game, remember: Adventurers share critical need to know information with their party.

Things I've learned from Tell Tale's The Walking Dead: Children watching children never works. Hate Ben so much. So, anyway. Stat breakdown for going into Episode 5:

Episode 1: This episode is buggy. I left the episode with Kenny on my side and him thanking me, only to go in to Episode 2 with him thinking I'd offered to throw Duck out. This I think is what causes the Schrodinger's Jerk paradox with Kenny. I think if the game had remembered that choice properly, that the decisions I make in Episode 2 would not have hurt my relationship nearly as much.
  • Saved Duck first
  • Was honest with Herschel
  • Chose to reason with Larry, then shouted him down (which the game reads as siding with him, for some reason)
  • Gave Irene the gun
  • Saved Doug (Told him I was going to save both of them. Hey, she had one on her, he had a bunch. That's math.)

Episode 2: In addition: Kept Clem from eating Mark; fed the kids, Lilly and Mark; was polite to Ben; tried to mediate between Kenny and Lilly. Kenny starts to act a bit weird in this chapter, partially, I think, because the writers are trying to push him and Lilly as different choices here, but the problem is that by the end of Episode 2, either one of them comes off not just a jerk but as someone you utterly cannot trust. I don't get why I didn't get to try and have a Come to Jesus moment with Kenny for not helping in the barn, and I bet the people who Lilly abandons feel the same way. Lee really lets his team push him around way too much. Do they ever ask anyone else to even do anything? Of the four episodes released, this one is probably the weakest.
  • Chopped off David's leg
  • Danny shot Jolene, not me
  • Tried to save Larry
  • Did not kill either St. John
  • Refused to take the supplies

Episode 3: Here's where decisions start to seem to matter more. Yet again Kenny proves not to be too quick to save me, and all I can do is ask WTF before we move on like nothing happened. It's a good episode, but a lot happens. Not as strong as Episode 1 or 4, but I think this got stuck with having to do a lot of heavy lifting that neither of those episodes needed to do. We taught Clem things she needed to know, and I agreed we would look for her parents if it was not too dangerous. The ending quickly made it clear it may be too dangerous.
  • Shot the survivor against Kenny's wishes (but still managed to get enough stuff to make Lilly happy)
  • Took Lilly with me (and got thrown out of the RV when she stole it because, I guess, cut scene)
  • Talked Kenny down in the train
  • Killed Duck for Kenny
  • Helped Omid first (though I don't understand why Lee didn't immediately lean back out to grab Christa)

Episode 4: This does a good job of building up the expectations for Episode 5 while being a great, self-contained story on its own. I liked the new people we met, both Vernon and Molly. Is it even possible to not bring Vernon with you back to the house? I just up and asked him to help me, so I don't know. I guess he has to come, judging by the school scenes, but I thought I'd ask. A lot of stuff in this episode doesn't make sense if you think too hard about it. Therefore, don't think too hard about. I tried to balance praising Clem's resourcefulness and initiative with telling her to stop being stupid. I don't think she took my message to heart, for some reason. I confronted Molly on lying to us and showed her sympathy.
  • Helped Kenny through his Heroic BSOD
  • Rational and honest with Vernon
  • Brought Clementine (meaning free saving of Molly)
  • Saved Ben
  • Showed the bite
  • Going in to Episode 5 with a full party

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