PSN/XBLA Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: In Harm’s Way

Payback's a bitch, buddy...

Payback’s a bitch, buddy…

By: Mike Chen

Please note that since each episode of The Walking Dead: Season 2 features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of All That Remains.

Episode 3: In Harm’s Way is a grim and twisted look at what people will do in order to survive. Filled with shocking and dark moments, its journey mirrors the look at the Governor/Woodbury in both the comics and the TV show as Bill Carver looks to build a community and keep it safe through an iron fist. Safety — both what it means and what it’s worth — are debated in this game and often lead to the series’ trademark no-win situations.

This provides for an engrossing, thrilling, and sometimes disturbing experience that builds up Carver as a strong antagonist, though he’s lacking much dimension except for one brief exchange where you kind of get some greater insight into what makes the man tick. Otherwise, he might as well be twirling his moustache as he barks orders at his henchmen.

As for Clementine, it’s remarkable how she has organically grown from the scared girl in the tree house to the brutal survivor and leader she is now. Telltale smartly frames this with the final choice of the episode, something that leads to two very different but necessary choices — decisions that Clementine approaches with unflinching determination.

The whole experience clocks in around two hours, and it’s a lean, mean story with little downtime and plenty of anxiety. Telltale overwhelmingly succeeds in building this tension through dialogue, character and atmosphere. However, as with recent episodes in The Wolf Among Us, In Harm’s Way feels a bit funneled. Yes, your dialogue choices matter, but they continue to push you through the story without much room to actually indulge in the standard adventure game fare of exploration and puzzle solving.

There are several sections where the game could have maintained the tension but integrated the actual gameplay aspect by forcing the player to come up with a creative solution to situations. Without delving into spoilers, there’s a brief section near the middle of the episode that involves some stealth choices, or at least they do on the surface. In reality, you’re waiting for someone to walk away before you push a button.

The inherent creativity that players rely upon for adventure game puzzles just doesn’t seem to exist in Telltale’s world now, and it’s disappointing because the genre’s best have often shown how you can weave in exploration and puzzle solving into a narrative without it feeling like an out-of-nowhere pause in the middle of the situation.

OVERALL (4/5)

You won’t forget the experience of In Harm’s Way. The storytelling and pacing are probably the strongest this season. However, there’s a feeling that Telltale has forgotten that it’s possible to integrate strong adventure gaming into an excellent storyline and believable characters. It’d be nice if the game developers could re-discover that for the final two episodes of The Walking Dead Season 2.

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About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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66 Responses to PSN/XBLA Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: In Harm’s Way

  1. David says:

    Would prefer steam.
    @StrakAttack

  2. Rob Haggerty says:

    Steam
    @nemamradathena

  3. gmanvg says:

    PSN
    @gmanvg

  4. Jax says:

    PSN
    @Wallander12

  5. Phillip says:

    Steam
    @Kinsie21

  6. Chris says:

    Steam
    @chrisholland70

  7. Demitri says:

    PSN
    @prinnyfreak

  8. Polerand says:

    XBLA
    @Polerand

  9. Jonathan says:

    XBLA please
    @ErrantParadigm

  10. zerop1 says:

    I’ll test my luck with the XBLA version.
    @ZeroP1

  11. buster42 says:

    Steam
    @busterkuri

  12. Leon says:

    Steam
    @lmd1974

  13. background6 says:

    Steam
    @9aber3

  14. XBLA please 🙂
    @iLisa93

  15. mj80 says:

    Steam
    @mj80p

  16. Julian says:

    Steam please!
    @JJWagstaff

  17. Egi says:

    XBLA
    @gegigege

  18. Lamis says:

    XBLA Please. Thanks
    @ZarieoZ

  19. louiedog says:

    Steam
    @louiedog

  20. jreula says:

    Xbla twitter: @reulaj

  21. aklambda says:

    steam
    @aklambda

  22. alee67 says:

    Steam
    @alee67

  23. Android 18/18 says:

    XBLA
    @Androidd19

  24. cirno9fan says:

    steam
    @vampkosan

  25. rockinjs864 says:

    PSN
    @rockinjs864

    The first season was my 1st and only platinum would love to get this for a chance to get my second thanks for the chance

  26. Brandon says:

    Steam
    @BrivoDivo

  27. Anthony D. says:

    PSN
    @Raptorkitty

  28. John says:

    PSN
    @jdoggduckdogg

  29. Mark says:

    XBLA
    @markdepeche89

  30. Zen says:

    Steam
    @seisakuuu

  31. Anthony B says:

    @thearkenard
    Psn

  32. darklurkr23 says:

    XBLA first choice, PSN second
    @Darklurkr23

    Thanks guys

  33. Colin says:

    XBLA
    @Colin8166

  34. David Bertoldo says:

    Steam
    @bugpants

  35. Sunsun says:

    Steam
    @sunki0207

  36. Richard Carter says:

    XBLA
    @richardicular

  37. Daniel says:

    Steam
    @cdanielrl

  38. tkrs1 says:

    Steam
    @tkrs1

  39. oasis789 says:

    Steam
    @oasis789

  40. Alex says:

    XBLA
    @Golovanov

  41. John says:

    PSN
    @landcanoe

  42. Dustin Drinkard says:

    PSN

    @LiLugly420

  43. Darrell says:

    Steam
    @MarvyMagpies

  44. Roger says:

    XBLA
    @rogerishere

  45. Locote pulido says:

    Psn
    @ALLTHEGOOD12
    This game in nice.

  46. Dave P. says:

    Steam
    @ShangTsung3000

  47. Jia Liang says:

    PSN
    @bjaigorgor

  48. Would prefer on steam :), already follow on twitter

  49. abacate16 says:

    XBLA
    @Abacate16

  50. Tanelorn82 says:

    XBLA
    @Tanelorn82

  51. J-Wood says:

    XBLA
    @elmightybandito

  52. darklinkpower says:

    XBLA @Brandon_bc99

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