Here we are eight months into 2014, and the series finale of The Walking Dead Season 2 has arrived, and boy does it hit hard. Real Hard. Telltale has stepped on leaps above their previous iterations in the series and have delivered something that is truly special. Episode 5: No Going back is emotionally evocative in all of the right ways. During this one episode I was surprised at how many different emotions that I felt. Anger, compassion, lightheartedness and heartache. All of which came together in a package that truly may be the best of both seasons and then some.
All stops were pulled by the writers this time around, and a new focus was put into character development. We, as Clementine, really get to spend some time with the group and get to have meaningful discussions with most of them. Being able to have a better bond with, and understanding of, the characters and their motives makes each and every decision that much more poignant. Every loss has meaning, and every word you say has consequences. Now the decisions that you make as Clementine are the main driver, however simply watching the characters interact and seeing how their choices unfold is also interesting. So many questions are raised through the course of one two hour playthrough: “Is that really wrong?”; “But it’s OK in self defense, right?”; “How far do I go to stay loyal to my friend who is falling apart?”; “Aren’t we all falling apart?”. All of these meaningful questions come into play and much like it could be in real life, we are forced to answer these questions in only moments and therefore must live with those decisions.
Looking back over the series and the bonds that were forged between characters, Telltale knew that they could get away with the things that they asked of the players. They knew that we would be so invested by this point that we would be OK to be put into the shoes that they laid before us. Had they pulled some of these choices at the end of Season 1, let’s just say the effects would be so much less important, and the feelings would be diminished. I’m not going to spoil it here, but the surprises that are in place and the culmination of past events that all build to a crescendo will likely bring your hand to your mouth. By now you are not in it for the gameplay. There are no puzzles to be found here and there are few inputs to be made. The drive here is the story, and your ability to put your own heart and soul into Clem and interact with the crew maybe just one last time.
I’ll admit, I thought I had the story figured out so far. I thought I knew the next thing happening before it arrived. Playing through episode 5 took those thoughts from my mind and had me guessing at every corner what awaited. Looking back know it seems hard to think how many ways the story could change. With the announcement that Season 3 is in the works, I have no idea where it could possibly go. The way that things were left at the end of my playthrough could warrant a continuation easily enough, but without playing episode 5 with different choices a few more times, there appears to be too many variations in the outcome. If my guess is correct and the outcomes are drastically different, I think Telltale may have their hands full with Season 3 if all the choices will transfer over. One would think at some point they will need to split off and have the choices start again fresh. Either way I will let the tech geniuses deal with that!
If by chance you are reading this review and have not played The Walking Dead before, I can now more than ever, whole heartedly recommend this to anyone. The writing is top notch and the game is simple and fun. I believe that this interactive media allows players to relate to the experience much more than simply watching a movie or reading a book. You feel invested with the choices that you make. Sure they are ultimately something that was already written and you are picking and choosing, but the amount of option that is available allows the experience to tailor to most anyone. This truly makes this a one of a kind adventure that is filled to the brim with surprise, heartache and intrigue. Hats off to Telltale for what is ultimately a masterpiece in gaming.
A review copy of The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 5: No Going Back for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita was provided by the Telltale Games PR team. Note: All in-game images on this page were originally posted on The Walking Dead Wiki.