May 14, 2014 by Paul Curtin
Episode 3 picks up right where Episode 2 left off, so I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible. We last saw Clem & Co. being captured by the game’s biggest villain yet, William Carver, the previous leader of Clementine’s newly found group. Carver, who brutally killed certain members of the group depending on your choices in Episode 2, is now back in control and calling the shots.
The story and gameplay in the latest installment is much more linear than any of the previous episodes – which is a smart choice by Telltale as it makes perfect sense considering that the members of the group have been forced into captivity and are now being held as prisoners. Being closed into a small area with armed guards keeping an eye on them, it’s up to Clementine to help her new family escape from the monster, Carver, before he kills them all for not seeing things his Darwinian way.
With Clementine only being 11 years old, it’s a bit strange how much the adults all rely on her to speak up for them and save them. Clem, who barely even looks her age and is half the size of the adults, just seems odd having a very mature conversation with a random 40-year-old man alone and not having Chris Hansen pop up to save the day.
But while these adult interactions seem odd, they should to us gamers. The world that Clementine is being raised in isn’t the same as ours; it’s one that requires children to mature at a much faster rate and kill or be killed. With each generation, children will become more and more desensitized to violence, until there’s nobody left to remember how things once were before the zombies, and what’s considered “normal” will become completely different than what we think nowadays and more in line with Carver’s beliefs. This becomes apparent when comparing Clem to the sheltered little girl character, Sarah, whose father has been trying to keep her away from this new cold world and could never survive on her own.
Like the show, certain characters are hit or miss. With many of the adults being so worthless in most situations, it’s hard to really get attached to them – especially with how willing Telltale is to kill characters off at any time. New cast member and comedian Kumail Nanjiani does a great job bringing some comic relief to one of the most mature episodes yet with his character Reggie. Another new strong female character, Jane, also seems to be getting set up to play a bigger role in Clem’s journey and even become a mentor of sorts that’s desperately needed in Lee’s absence.
While Michael Madsen’s performance as Carver is chilling and on par with the TV show’s Governor, it’s Kenny who steals the episode with one of the most memorable and violent scenes of the entire series that also plays a huge role in the development of one of the main characters. It’s also good to see characters from the 400 Days DLC finally starting to play a bigger role in the main storyline. But the character development is far from flawless, and certain characters are beginning to fade into the background with their names becoming hard to remember… even after multiple episodes.
With more linear and restricting gameplay, Telltale has been able to effectively give the player a greater sense of claustrophobia in Clem’s shoes while playing In Harm’s Way. Although there might not be as much action in Episode 3, what little there is, is some of the most memorable and shocking of the entire series. I just wish the final epic scene would have loaded faster and lasted longer… as with anything awesome on screen. Still, the big payoff at the end is perfectly placed in the middle of Season 2, which is surely setting up a big finale in the next two final episodes of the season with no going back. The Walking Dead: In Harm’s Way gets 4 out of 5 stars (Great).
- Amazing storytelling as always
- Clem’s character development is getting better and better
- Interesting new characters
- Some of the most brutal moments of the entire series
- A little too linear for a choose-your-own-way story
- Certain characters aren’t doing enough to stand out
- Load times seem to be getting worse, not better