The third installment of The Walking Dead video game, Long Road Ahead, has Lee and Clementine along with the rest of the rag tag group of survivors dealing with the fallout of episode 2 and whether or not they should finally leave the motor inn.
This episode pushes the player into uncomfortable territory by continuing the tradition of making tough choices where any outcome is really a no win situation. With the group having to deal with the repercussions from episode 2, the threads that are holding the group together are starting to stretch thin.
Episode 2 dealt with the lengths some people will go to in order survive, even if it means losing their humanity along the way. With that in mind Episode 2 may be the bleakest episode to date, with many choices and the tension between characters finally coming to a dramatic head. There are significant shifts in the dynamics of the group along with the setting and the characters who make up the group.
New characters are introduced in Long Road Ahead while writing off some fan favourites. Following in the footsteps of The Walking Dead comic, no character is safe from death. We’ve seen Robert Kirkman’s ability to kill off characters without remorse and it appears the team at Telltale believe in the same policy.
Long Road Ahead is particularly heartbreaking not only because of the characters lost but because of those left alive. One character in particular is due for an emotional breakdown at some point an upcoming episode. The writing is once again top notch with the interactions between Clementine and Lee being heartfelt and moving their relationship forward into a new survival orientated direction.
Each character conveys various emotions in this episode and the voice actors handle these with ease, translating to some very strong and poignant moments throughout the two and a half hour episode. This episode also brought out the strongest desire to replay the game from the beginning to see how my choices could change the current status quo. It also illustrated the limitations of the perceived choices and decisions the player makes. It is clear that Telltale has a story they want to tell with the player slightly altering how the story reaches the planned ending.
While episode 1 was heavy on the puzzle elements and episode 2 had more dialogue and decisions, Long Road Ahead hits the perfect balance. Amid the puzzle and decision making are some action sequences that can prove to be frustrating and show weakness in the gameplay. One particular sequence resulted in my death a few times as well as others I know who have played the game. It is the result of the loose aiming controls on consoles coupled with an objective that has a hidden time limit. While this segment will irk some players it is overshadowed by the direction Telltale has chosen to push this narrative.
The message that I took away from playing The Walking Dead: Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead while reflecting on past decisions is that doing the right thing isn’t always what is best for the group and your relationships with others. There is always something around the corner. Bad shit is going to happen. It isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when.
Long Road Ahead is a fantastic episode of The Walking Dead Video game. While it has some technical hiccups the narrative will pull you through and leave you craving the next installment. Episode 4 cannot come soon enough.
This review is based on a downloadable copy of the 360 version of The Walking Dead: Long Road ahead.