I can’t remember the last time I vocalised quite so much playing a game as I did playing Amid the Ruins. Given how many harsh things happened to the characters in the previous chapter, I didn’t think it could get worse for them, but I was wrong. This was where the shit well and truly hit the fan, and where characters started dropping like flies. Every time I thought ‘we can’t loose another one’, we lost another one. I found myself either whispering or shouting the word ‘no’ a lot, as some characters became zombies, while others became zombie dinner. Nick was a bit of a screw up, but I was hoping he would pull through in the end. Instead we find him near the beginning of this chapter, zombiefied, and it was up to me, or rather Clementine, to put him down.
Saddened by this, I was absolutely determined to keep Sarah alive, despite the game, and even the characters, best efforts to the contrary. The character has grown on me a great deal since episode one. Clementine reacted to her so negatively, as if there was something wrong with her, that I couldn’t help but adopt a similar point of view. But I began to wonder: who is the odd child, Sarah or Clementine? I ended up coming to the conclusion that it is actually Clementine, as she is doing things that no eleven year old should have to, often being a child who looks after adults rather than a child who is looked after by adults. Sarah, while clearly having some kind of anxiety problem, is having responses that are probably more likely in a person, especially a child – she’s afraid, because she’s been through a lot, despite her father’s best efforts to shield her from it. We’d all like to think that if the world went to hell, we’d be like Clementine – hence the reason why she’s the playable character – but the likelihood is we’d be like Sarah, so scared we don’t have the ability to save ourselves. And in the end she couldn’t save herself and neither could anyone else, so despite my best efforts, she died, and I felt really shitty about that.
It’s not just the deaths that caused problems, there was a lot of tension in the group and everything’s beginning to fracture. I suspect this game is going to end with Clementine once again on her own again (though I do hope Luke survives, he seems like a nice, trustworthy guy). Rebecca’s pregnancy was one of the main causes for this fracturing, as new member Jane argued that a pregnant woman would slow them down and a baby would be another mouth to feed when food is already at a bare minimum. Jane is a tricky new character to understand, on the one hand her sob story about her sister means I felt a certain amount of sympathy for her, but she’s become almost too hardened by the apocalypse to the point I think she really would turn her back on someone who needs help if it would save her own life. In the end she left the group, believing she’d be better off on her own – despite Clementine’s attempts to argue that a group can watch your back – but somehow I don’t think I’ve seen the last of her.
And then there’s Kenny. His hotheadedness actually worked for me in the previous chapter when we were trapped and needed to find a way out of that compound, but now that we are out again and in a – relatively – normal situation, his attitude is becoming more and more problematic. Now, in his defence I did drive an axe into his girlfriends skull, but it was a mercy killing, she’d been bitten. Once again, I was doing the killing so that Kenny didn’t have to. But he didn’t seem to be too happy with me.
The problem is, Kenny is a man who can’t deal with emotions very well. It’s one thing to be upset his girlfriend is dead, it’s quite another thing to be angry at Clementine for doing something he himself would have done if the situation was reversed. I know he would, because the last thing he did in this chapter was shoot a member of the group who had died and come back, despite the fact that we were also recreating the ending of Reservoir Dogs with another group. Remember when he dropped a block on a guys head in Season One to stop him reanimating? Kenny is a man who has gone through a lot and can’t find a way to deal with all of that. Admittedly it’s hard to journal about your inner feelings when there are zombies everywhere, but this is a guy who sits around in a black mood with a loaded gun in his hand. This is the guy who caused the others to keep their guns handy just in case he ended up doing something stupid. The recurring theme in The Walking Dead has always been that other people are the biggest threat and I honestly though that Kenny was going to do something terrible.
In the end, what he did was deliver a baby then get creepily attached to the baby, perhaps seeing it as a substitute for his own lost son. And then he shot the mother who died and was reanimating. Still, the baby did offer one light moment in the chapter as holding it allowed us to get a rare smile from Clementine.
So that’s episode four over with. How will episode five go down? Will Kenny find a way to be more of an idiot? How many will survive that Blake’s 7 style ending to the chapter? Will Clementine end up on her own again? I can hardly wait to find out.
Next Episode: Episode Five