One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about the comics is that the zombies are not the threat, they’re just the thing that causes the apocalypse. The biggest threats come from other humans, because what The Walking Dead is actually about is what happens to people when all the rules that holds society in place crumble away. Episode 3 gives us the scenario that readers of the comic will be all too familiar with – the encounter with another group of people and the fear that comes along with that. While episode 2 raised the question of who Carver was and whether or not he could be trusted, Episode 3 has our characters imprisoned and made to work for him.
Because of all of this, Kenny’s hotheadedness actually works this time around. In the previous chapter, I was annoyed that he reentered Clementine’s life and a lot of bitterness about Season 1 came back to the surface. But here, it was hard not to agree with him on an emotional level, given the situation. At times I did feel like like it may have been a mistake, but what I’m liking about Season 2 is, as it went on it became less about what I thought was the logical choice and more about what my emotional reactions were. Once Kenny took a beating for me, when taking the blame for stealing the walkie-talkie, I felt a connection with him. I wanted to help him and I sided with him, even in actions that are morally repugnant to me. I wanted to see him beat Carver to death for the pain he’d caused the group and I don’t think any less of him for doing it. I was genuinely shocked by how much I embraced the violence in this episode. It’s only now, here in the aftermath of the chapter that I find myself wondering if that was the right thing to do.
And that’s when I realised: I have no idea what the right thing to do is. In Life is Strange, it’s very clear what the morally right and wrong thing is, for example it would be wrong not to warn Victoria about Nathan and the Dark Room. In The Walking Dead, the line between right and wrong is so fine, I can’t see it. Was there something more I could have done to result in a better outcome for the group? If I had helped Sarah more, would she have avoided the beating? Could Carlos have lived? I don’t know, and when I look at my end of chapter stats, it tells me I was in the majority of some choices, but I still don’t know if that means they were the right choices.
Some elements of the gameplay still irritate me. The limited time given to select an answer didn’t bother me later on in the chapter as I was selecting options based on emotion so doing it very quickly. But earlier on with a more level head it continued to frustrate me, especially when another character berated me for my silence. I was only silent because I didn’t have the time to make a choice. Had there been no timer on the option selection, I would have had the time to think of an appropriate response, but would most likely have still chosen the later decisions very quickly, so I still see no reason for it. There was also a zombie attack that I had to replay over and over because I kept getting Clementine killed. The game told me to ‘hold A’ in order to get away, but that zombie kept getting a hold of her. Once I decided to give other buttons a go, it turned out I had to hold the ‘s’ button. It’s a fixed camera angle, so seems a rather silly mistake for the developers to make.
Grumbles aside, I really am getting into Season 2 now. The forced nature of the emotions in the first chapter are fading away and it now feels like something that comes more organically from people trapped in bad situations having to make terrible choices. The events of this chapter got strong reactions from me, right up until the final image we ended on. I imagine it will only get more intense from here.
Next Episode: Episode Four