|System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC*|
|Release: July 22, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
Sarah is paralyzed with fear the whole episode and it feels like you are given a million chances to leave her behind. Leave her behind when you find her, leave her behind when you are running from zombies, leave her behind when you regroup, make your choice. It doesn’t matter because in my three play-throughs of the game, Sarah always died in the end. I know this is supposed to be symbolic of the futility of all things but, why constantly give me the choice? Why keep poking me to leave her behind and feel guilty if I not doing so has no appreciable effect on the game at all? Once again it feels like this whole plot arc was a throwaway and if Sarah was just dead on arrival, it probably would have been a lot more emotionally powerful.
Jane’s plotline is equally frustrating. Why are people afraid of her running away? We met her like a few days ago! Of course we don’t know much about her, nor do we trust her much. Why am I constantly keeping tabs on her? So that she doesn’t run away? So that she doesn’t take the 0 supplies we have? What could she possibly do to actually screw us? It feels like the interparty paranoia is really forced here and once again she leaves no matter what! It feels like nothing I did in this episode actually mattered because the writers were obsessed with wrapping everything up an episode before the final conflict.
Speaking of final conflict, the last scene of the game has you held up at gunpoint by a random band of Russians (I don’t know why Russians are out here in the Midwest but whatever) while Rebecca dies, becomes a zombie with her baby in her hands, and then everyone fires at each other as the screen goes black. It feels like it is exactly trying to do what the ending of The Sopranos did, but it doesn’t work. The Walking Dead is always about showing us the brutality of reality. Heck, Episode 3 made a point to show us how horrible it was to actually kill a man. Now we get this black screen magic that shields us from the violence, only so that we can linger in dread that all the rest of our favorite characters are killed, mostly invalidating the rest of the choices we made over the course of the episode?
A similar thing happened in Season 1 Episode 4, where Christa and Omid were introduced and we started traveling with a whole new group of people that I didn’t like or care about. But even though I felt that episode was weak, I still felt like the things Lee was doing mattered. Lee was trying to make Clementine survive and even if the rest of the world burned down, he was going to make sure that happened. That was my goal. That was my driving force. Here… I don’t know who Clem is supposed to care about. The new baby? Kenny? Luke? What is Clem’s driving force? What is the thrilling conclusion? Lee had to save Clem from the clutches of a madman as he slowly died from a zombie bite. Awesome! Clem… is randomly taken hostage by Russians… eh. Once again, I can’t stop playing the game now and I wouldn’t recommend you do so either. However, Episode 5 will really have to work hard to turn things around and blow me away with a stunning conclusion, or else it might feel that everything I have done so far is for naught.
Then again… maybe that is the point.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: July 22, 2014