The Walking Dead Season Two: Episode Five - No Going Back (PC) - ReviewJoseph Trotter , posted on 03 October 2014 / 2,542 Views
I love Lee. You love Lee. We all love Lee. But he is gone. Or is he?
So is any happiness you thought may be forthcoming in the last edition of this series of The Walking Dead.
There will be another. There is no precipice ending to this edition, no glimpse in the distance; unlike last time, the next season has been long confirmed for this exceptionally successful series. A next season will occur, and they'll be damn well sure you're there.
Because the story-telling is getting better; the narrative slicker, the choices harsher. A slow start followed by a fast middle and an even end; a Formula One narrative performed by a zombie, or two.
But is it peddling water?
In some ways, yes. Clementine's narrative feels more strained; as she becomes more alive as a character the desperation to keep her interesting becomes more apparent.
Was she meant to be a lead character?
Only once is it apparent we are dealing with a child protagonist. So used are we to dealing with adult, male (in the skin of female) leads that when an off-hand conversation turns to sex it becomes odd that they hush.
Because she is a child, and we as observers are desensitised. Why do they murmur when they would instinctively kill another in-front of her eyes? Is sex worse than violence, death, survival?
Or perhaps they are trying to save what little humanity there is in a child who has seen it all before puberty. Perhaps they have forgotten she is a child.
The greatest achievement of this season of The Walking Dead is to offer a perspective from a child. In some ways they fail; many times you forget your avatar is so young and thus make decisions from an adult perspective, without the thought of a young child's humanity. But maybe she isn't so young. Maybe that's the point. Maybe someone in such extreme circumstances will grow up beyond their years. Or it could be a bad script.
Men die, women die; everybody dies. Key characters are pinched out like the wick of a candle; off-hand, dismissed, forgotten. The role-call becomes longer, as does the casualty list. An awareness of the survival instinct grows, but as does the inability to identify with those Clementine meets.
This is not the point. Morality decisions, upon which The Walking Dead relies, depend on perspective and understanding. Without either, how can one decide one life is worth another? So many die that you forget people you cherished a mere few hours ago. It makes for a convincing world.
But a convincing video-game?
That means nothing. The Walking Dead has never been a video-game in the traditional sense, more an interactive narrative. Decisions come thick and fast, morals twisted and intentions defied; friends killed and enemies defiled. Breathless, breath-taking, heart-breaking. Horrific.
It's no fun. Grim and exhilarating, but one punch to the soul after another does not make for enjoyment. Neither do QTE's, Resident Evil 4's lasting curse on the world. Thankfully, The Walking Dead appears to have learnt its lesson, and focuses important actions on words rather than pre-configured events.
But are they not all pre-configured events?
Yes. But no. And yes. The narrative is there, laid like a network of canals. Which you choose is independently motivated, but most lead to the same point. Decisions are forced on you, with more yes/no responses necessary than previously noticeable.
Does this detract?
No; Clementine is a fantastic lead. She is not yet a leader, but at times the narrative of this series has felt such a loss; early episodes have felt lacking in purpose, yet those later feel like they're taking great strides.
Should I progress next season?
How could I not.
This review is based on a digital copy of The Walking Dead: No Going Back for the PC, provided by the publisher.
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