A brief service announcement
We’re gonna start by saying AWOOOGA AWOOOGA, big whopping spoilers for Walking Dead Episode One a-comin’ at ya! This review of Walking Dead: Episode Two (Starved For Help) assumes that you’ve already completed the first episode and are wondering whether to continue Lee’s post-apocalyptic adventure. So don’t go and post “oh noes, you ruined it lolz” in the comments box, or we’ll set Phat Chopps on you. That is all.
Now on with the review...
Three months have passed since the bloody siege on the cornerstore. Lee, Clementine and the other survivors are shacked up at a crummy motel, running dangerously low on food as they barricade themselves off from the world. Tensions are already high when Lee, Kenny and new boy Mark stumble across two lads and their teacher in the nearby woods. Seems that Teach has gone and got his leg wedged in an animal trap, and it’s up to Lee and his trusty axe to get him free.
This high-tension beginning leads nicely into more fantastic Walking Dead drama, as self-appointed leader Lilly takes offence at Lee rescuing these stragglers, thus providing yet more mouths to feed. You’re forced to make a hard decision, just the first of many as it turn out, before the arrival of another pair of strangers provides a possible way out...
Wot, no zombies?
Walking Dead: Starved For Help’s story once again centres on survival, but this time the focus is firmly on that most basic of needs, finding enough to eat. Zombies almost entirely take a back seat as we’re introduced to a family of farmers and a camp of bandits who are skulking around in the surrounding forest. That doesn’t mean no action scenes or a lack of Walking Dead’s trademark gore, however. There are still a handful of gritty set pieces, mostly towards the end of the episode, and the entire sub-three-hour experience is beset by a deep unease as you work out just who you can trust.
Truth be told, we figured out the big ‘plot twist’ long before the grisly reveal, mostly thanks to our obsession with small-town American horror films. The reveal itself is actually vaguely comedic thanks to its sheer bizareness (not to mention complete lack of realism), and quickly followed up by one of the most unintentionally hilarious gaming moments of all time, while some of the dialogue options also border on hysterical melodrama. Still, this mis-step is quickly rectified by another incredibly tense and shocking scene, which opens up into balls-out horror until the ‘Next Time on Walking Dead’ screen fades in.
Our big question is, how much impact do our decisions actually have on the plot? Occasionally you’ll be forced to make a seemingly massively impactful choice, but playing both branches inevitably ends with you back in the exact same position just a minute or two later. Telling a character you’re their best friend, or telling them to go fist themselves, seems to alter no more than a sentence or two of dialogue. Worst of all, A New Day ended with a big decision: save Carley or save Doug? But in Starved For Help, the lucky character is barely even a bit-player, which almost completely renders your decision null and void (and let’s face it, who the hell would save a flabby, non-committal IT guy over a sultry, attractive reporter? As if!)
With several episodes remaining, we’re hoping that our actions will bear more consequence in the near future. Still, for its short running time, Walking Dead: Starved For Help has more shocking and intelligent moments than many other games manage in ten hours or more.
Walking Dead Episode Two: Starved For Help will appeal to fans of the first game, featuring the same mix of human drama and uber-tense action set pieces. Likewise, anyone who was bored rigid by the lengthy unskippable dialogue in A New Day should probably just end it there. We’d like to see more consequences to our actions, and the big twist in Starved For Help is more obvious than Paul Daniels’ wig, but we were entertained for most of the two to three-hour playtime.