July 23, 2014 by Vinnie Leduc
As Clementine & Co. progress deeper into the second half of The Walking Dead: Season Two, most players have so far enjoyed Telltale’s zombie apocalypse video game series this year just as much as last year, if not more. Released across all major platforms this week, Amid the Ruins is the second season’s fourth episode, and it sustains Telltale’s streak of uneasy and outstanding storytelling, engaging and chaotic action, and morals-testing and player-defined consequences.
Amid the Ruins begins mere seconds after where the previous episode, In Harm’s Way, ended in jaw-dropping fashion. If you had been waiting the past couple of months to see exactly how Clementine’s last few pivotal decisions will shape her captivating character development, you’ll have to wait a little longer because the opening chapter of Amid the Ruins throws at you another shocking event and another important choice, all while shit is hitting the fan. Think too long about what just went down, and you’ll muck up the panic action sequences and end up like I did: DEAD. In a pretty gruesome way, too.
As with many of the previous episodes, Clem will be subjected to some damn boring troughs of menial bitch work in between adrenaline-pumping peaks. However, she’ll also pick up some new useful survival tips under the wing of one of the supporting characters. The focus on Clem’s relationship with said character is a real treat and personally made me consider doing things I probably wouldn’t have earlier in the season or last season. By the conclusion of Amid the Ruins, I had made a crucial choice or two that I may not have made just last episode. If this is true, then Telltale has accomplished something very few developers or video games can do: change the player himself.
What holds Amid the Ruins back from transcending all prior episodes to become a masterpiece are the lost opportunities to truly stun gamers or put them in even more incredibly tough dilemmas. Maybe that’s me being greedy or just anxious that the finale of another already awesome season is only a couple months away (and with the release date of Telltale’s first Game of Thrones episode still officially TBA). Or maybe Telltale has set its own bar too high.
Overall, the fourth episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two is an excellent one that maintains the suspense of its predecessors and shares familiar themes with the AMC television series. You’ll get more of what you’ve loved and some new things, too. There may be some seemingly pointless parts, but there are some funny and “human” ones as well, including some of the tensest conversations of the game so far. I’ve kept this as spoiler-free as possible, so I won’t elaborate more here, but I’m open to discuss anything in the comments below. The Walking Dead: Amid the Ruins gets 4.5 out of 5.