The Walking dead S2 E5: no going back

Of course it wasn’t going to have quite the same social impact as the first series, but there’s still a very good case to be made that Telltale has outdone itself with season two of its heart-wrenching saga. I’ll go further than that, even: there’s no doubt that finale No Going Back is the crown jewel in the developer’s entire catalogue.

What’s been so well-refined at this point, as seen in the previous ep, is the sense of choice. In some instances it’s an illusion, in others it most certainly isn’t, but what’s important is that now those decisions you make all  feel momentous at the time and it’s no longer easy to see the paths down which they lead. Here you’re questioning the state of affairs from the very start could things have been different going in? and then the moral maze quickly escalates into complexity.

group therapy

Finding yourself with the last remnants of your band, it’s immediately evident that all are on their last legs and decisions about the best course for survival need to be made. But Telltale paces these brilliantly: what this episode does better than ever is balance the dramatic moments (be they action or decision-based) and the dialogue-driven, inter-camp bonding. One scene around a campfire is a particular highlight, and another plus is that these instances no longer feel like the slightly directionless quasi-puzzles of the first season.

What you’re all really here for is the climactic payoff, and it absolutely doesn’t disappoint. Instead it asks by far the most difficult questions that the series has thus far raised questions that require a definitive answer from you as to just what kind of person your circumstances have moulded you into. I came away feeling horribly guilty, but not at all regretful,  which is a remarkable rarity.

This, then, is not just further confirmation of Telltale’s status as one of the premier storytellers in all of gaming at present, but evidence that it continues to learn and improve.

What that signals for TWD’s future is a scary thought if you’ve even managed to pick
up your jaws by then.

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