(Editors Note: Possible Spoilers Ahead Regarding Previous Episodes. Please Read with Caution)
I have to say I am a little disappointed it is all over. Over the past several months I have thoroughly enjoyed playing through Telltale Games episodic emotional roller coaster that is The Walking Dead video game series. Every episode seemed to tug at my heart strings and some of the choices I had to make were agonizing. To this day I regret some of the choices but in the end all those tough decisions contributed to what has been a remarkable experience. Yet it is not all about those decisions that make The Walking Dead game so fantastic, it is also the characters and the compelling storyline that has you empathizing with Lee, Clem, and Kenny on an emotional level unlike any other game I have played to date. After everything is said and done, The Walking Dead’s final episode managed to deliver and one thing is for certain, people will be talking about this game for years to come.
Episode 5: No Time Left picks up where Episode 4 left off. Our crew of zombie apocalypse survivors has dwindled down in numbers and some seriously unbalanced dude has snatched little Clementine. Meanwhile, Lee (the games main protagonist) is struggling with the fact he has been bit by a zombie. Time is running out for Lee and his rag tag group of survivors as zombies are closing in on the town of Savannah. Yet this crew is determined to track down Clementine even if there is “No Time Left”.
If you haven’t played Episode 4, you are likely cursing me right now as I may be spoiling a couple of the more significant events that occurred; however, this is difficult to avoid as the entire final episode centers on Lee and how he is simply coping. Just like the previous episodes the story takes a number of twists and turns, but unlike Episode 4 the pacing feels so much more intense this time around. I felt Episode 4 dragged a little but this is not the case in Episode 5 as the intensity has been amped up and the narrative pushes through to the finish. Episode 5 is not a long one (approx. 2-hours) and I found the story somewhat abruptly ended. This feeling arose only because I was expecting to play another hour or two). Yet as I sit back and reflect, Telltale has alluded to a sequel to what has been one of the best story driven games I have played in recent memory.
The character interactions remain a strong point and this is showcased to its finest in the finale. I found myself hanging on every word. Having gone on this far on the journey, I have come to relate to Lee, Kenny, Ben and Clem on a more personal level. I found myself routing for them, gaining a better understanding for them, and I just wanted them all to make it out alive. Yet anyone who has watched the Walking Dead TV series will know that all bets are off when it comes to who will get bitten next. Even right down to the final seconds of the game I could feel emotions stirring as the game was coming to a close. It is indeed an emotional experience and the attachment to the characters is second to none.
No Time Left features a lot of dialogue where the group reflects on what has occurred over the course of their encounter and what lies ahead of them. Yet this time there is also a little more action. There is a sequence where you will be taking a butcher knife to a horde of zombies and another sequence where you and your crew will be unloading your handguns into zombies that are hurdling up the stairs and down the hall towards you. These sequences are enjoyable but also expose some of the games less than stellar combat mechanics. Not to mention, some the technical issues that I have discussed in past reviews of previous episodes rear their ugly head at times. Yet the storyline and character development far outweighs any of the game’s shortcomings.
Although the experience was enjoyable, the ending caught me off guard. I guess I was expecting a little more considering previous episodes ran around 3-4 hours. In the end, I would have preferred a longer experience, but again, when you take into account the affordable 400 MS price point, No Time Left is a fantastic ‘bang for the buck’. Keep in mind however that if you are purchasing Episode 5 you likely have already picked up the previous four and sunk 1600 points into the franchise. Still it is fantastic value considering you will be talking about this game with all your buddies.
The social aspect of the game is something worth mentioning. At the end of every episode a bunch of statistics is displayed showing you what key decisions other people who played the game made. Those stats are compared with the decisions you made. I absolutely loved this aspect of the game and I was quite surprised by some of the outcomes and so will you. It is those decisions you make which makes this game fantastic for coffee house chatter and simply debating some of those moral dilemmas you encounter along the way.
As usual, Episode 5’s visuals stay true to the other episodes. The animated comic book style continues to work well for the game. The characters look great and the game’s zombie infested buildings and street corners are fantastic looking. The voice work is equally fantastic and even in those moments of silence you can almost hear what is going on in their head as they are faced with life changing dilemmas. The music can be chilling at times and even when not much is going on those subtle tunes only add to an already fantastic atmosphere.
Much like fantastic graphic novels, The Walking Dead: Episode 5 – No Time Left is not something you can not easily put down. It is an investment and one that will take an emotional toll on you. You will never forget it and it is an experience I recommend to all. The way the developers managed to link decisions I made back in Episode 1 with the final Episode is quite remarkable and is the ‘icing on the cake’ to an experience that I really hope everyone gets a chance to experience. It is by no means a flawless game, or series, but is a memorable one and one that raises the bar when it comes to storytelling in a video game franchise.