PSN/XBLA Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: No Going Back

Walkers in a Winter Wonderland!???? C'mon... anyone?

Walkers in a Winter Wonderland!???? C’mon… anyone?

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.

While I’ve tried to steer clear of spoilers in previous reviews of Season 2, I’ll be discussing the events of past episodes here as well as laying out some basics of what happens in No Going Back. Consider that your spoiler warning.

Amid The Ruins ended with a bang. Well, technically it ended with a lot of them as Rebecca turned and had to be put down to save the baby, which pushed the standoff over the edge. Bullets are flying right from the get go in Episode 5, putting Luke and Kenny under fire (the others, too, but not as prominently). Your group manages to survive, thanks in no small part to the opportune return of Jane — and while you could file that under spoilers, I’d think a lot of people anticipated we hadn’t seen the last of her.

Arvo, the lone survivor from the other side, is taken prisoner, and it’s his treatment that ultimately drives a wedge between your group. There’s a definite darkness to No Going Back, though it’s more of the psychological kind with lots of increasingly confrontational conversations.

Where the finale trips up to some extent is that there’s very little subtlety. And maybe there’s a hint of realism to that given the circumstances, but it felt like I was constantly having a specific point of view pushed on me. The result was that I accurately predicted the final “choice” within the first 10 or 15 minutes of No Going Back. For a series that has thrived on keeping its audience guessing, the lead up felt unusually heavy handed.

That’s not to say this episode is devoid of emotional connection. There are definitely some genuinely tender moments of interplay between characters we’ve grown attached to, including difficult farewells. The problem is Telltale shoehorned too many “heavy” conversations into the narrative, most of which just reinforced what we already knew and felt about these people. It’s a far cry from the generally organic storytelling we’d seen thus far.

Fans don’t play these games for the action prompts, they play them for the story and the characters, and it was a miscalculation to think we needed to have past storylines rehashed. That so much time in this episode was devoted to such efforts was disappointing.

Even if the moments leading up to the end are surprisingly tone deaf, your final choices still prove to be emotional and impactful. You can go a number of different ways with more than one game-changing decision to be made, and when the credits rolled I felt comfortable with the decisions I’d made and where they’d led me.

OVERALL (3.5/5)

Although aspects of No Going Back fall flat, there are still enough poignant moments to make it an intense and worthwhile experience. Bring on Season 3.

About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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