The Walking Dead Season 2 Ep. 3 Review: Show of Strength

Instead, while they’re forced to work, they’re still protected. The community is functional in some key ways, more than really any other settlement we’ve yet seen in the game world, and the question of the worthiness of trading freedom for a secure life living under a madman is not easily answered. Telltale manages to beautifully characterize almost everyone in the community quickly, and as Clementine speaks with them, their individual reasons for what they tolerate and permit in the name of survival go beyond simple explanations.

And so that choice is put to Clementine, over and over again, and she continues to grow to become the lynchpin of her group. Characters constantly look to her as the deciding factor on a course of action — Clementine’s judgment is well-respected, and when one character suggests otherwise with the line, “Clem, the adults are talking,” she quickly shuts it down. Where Clementine goes, the group goes, a role she earns again and again in Episode 3.

In my review of Episode 2, I discussed the feeling of Clementine being perhaps more influential than her age might otherwise allow, but in Episode 3, Clementine proves through her actions that the trust invested in her is well-placed. What she thinks matters because she’s also the one willing to take the risks to put plans in motion or save lives. I stopped feeling like Clementine was a character slightly out of sync with reality in Episode 3, and started seeing her as her group’s hero. They cling to her because they need her, and that’s very much a theme of this entire chapter.

Throughout Episode 3, conversations about what to do, what risk is necessary, what freedom is worth, are interspersed with more action-oriented scenes. Clem gets up to a lot in this episode, from trying to quickly and carefully scout the prison area, to dealing with zombies and the like.

And despite Clem’s elevated position with her group, Episode 3 deftly reminds players that she’s not an adult, and she’s not quite invincible, even when she’s heroic. She’s a seasoned zombie combat vet, and yet things can quickly go badly because of her child’s frame or an erroneous choice. The Walking Dead is a world on the brink, and as capable (and remarkably brave) a person as Clementine is, she’s still constantly at risk.

With “In Harm’s Way,” Telltale continues the upward trajectory of this season of The Walking Dead. It just keeps getting better, and Clementine has evolved from a great character to, possibly, my favorite character in games (or at least, the Clementine I’ve helped construct has). The gameplay remains thin, as always — several of the most “interactive” moments of this chapter basically involve clicking the only thing in a room to click. But then, of course, it has never been about puzzles.

What The Walking Dead is about is people, and in Episode 3, the game continues to deliver those well-written and interesting characters with whom Clementine interacts and relates. As the episodes before it, Episode 3 delivers on a series of moments in which players must balance relationships and survival, freedom and security, and as always, there are never any easy answers.

Pros:

  • Nice balance of action and conversation in this episode; Clementine has plenty to do
  • Does a great job of bringing in new characters and fleshing them out quickly; tons of nuance in this episode among various characters and situations
  • Clementine’s continued progression builds to a point where it feels she’s earned her place in her group, which makes her all the more interesting
  • Lots of diversity in intense situations throughout this episode, from fighting zombies to choosing risky courses of action to trying to talk someone out of shooting you

Cons:

  • Most gameplay portions remain completely unchallenging; Telltale isn’t even really hiding the fact that there are no real puzzles in the game
  • Some players might still struggle to buy how much other characters rely on Clementine despite her young age

Final Score: 90/100


The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 3: In Harm’s Way was reviewed using a pre-release Steam code provided by Telltale Games. GameFront employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.


Phil Hornshaw is senior editor at GameFront. Read more of his work here, and follow him and GameFront on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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1 Comment on The Walking Dead Season 2 Ep. 3 Review: Show of Strength

GazH

On May 15, 2014 at 12:18 am

That was my favourite episode of Season 2 so far. It made Clementine a completely believeable character, it gave me the reasons why people look to her, and how she views the world around her. I shaped her to be as tough as Lee was in the first Season, taking inspiration from him – yes, she took a smack in the face a couple of times because of it, but it really built on the character, especially the way I had her act during the conversation with Carver.

Yes, I had her stay for the revenge too. Clementine is toughening up, just as I wanted her to, and now I’m looking forward to the next episodes more than ever.