When I reviewed episode four of the Walking Dead, Long Road Ahead, I called it an emotional punch in the face because of the tragic events that occurred throughout. The final episode in this season of The Walking Dead is almost a tidal wave of emotional impact that will bring some players to tears, a feat not many games can accomplish.
This is due in large part to the culmination of decisions and character arcs that feel earnest and believable. Almost every character has at least one strong moment during this episode that illustrates just how much they have changed since we first met them. In the past five episodes Telltale has created an entertaining cast of characters that are better fleshed out and more multi-dimensional than most other games on the market today. I would even say that the cast of The Walking Dead could stand up against the cast of the Mass Effect series.
This is in large part due to the voice actors and the writing that have grounded each character in reality. As with the previous episodes, the voice actors have done a tremendous job expressing a wide range of emotional depth. Whether it is a blatant statement or subtle changes to voice pitch in an offhand comment, every line of dialogue is delivered expertly to convey the authentic emotions of a real person. Melissa Hutchison’s heart breaking performance as Clementine in this episode is one of the few video game moments that will stick with me for years to come.
The decisions that have been made through the last five episodes are brought back to the forefront of this episode, which will either vindicate or haunt the player. Watching how the consequences of your actions finally result in such prominent way is something I desperately wanted when playing through Mass Effect 3. To have it happen in The Walking Dead, particularly with the strong cast of characters affected by each decision, makes the outcome of each choices feel much more significant.
No Time Left is a bit shorter than previous installments but it does not lack any of the action, character moments or emotional sting of past episodes. There are only a few big decisions that you will have to make as Lee Everett but there are numerous interactions with other characters that can set the tone for the duration episode. The setting changes frequently with less emphasis on puzzle solving that may have added time to the previous episodes. The lack of these puzzle segments fit with the overall urgency of the story. Another aspect of previous installments that is missing from the final episode of the season is the technical hiccups that seemed quite noticeable early on. After playing through the final episode twice I don’t recall a single example of any frozen frames, dropped audio or graphical errors. The number of zombies encountered is also far above that of any previous episode.
The final episode of the first season of The Walking Dead video game is a masterful piece of storytelling. Telltale games held nothing back and have delivered one of the most emotionally gripping narratives that have ever graced the medium of video games. No Time Left offers a fitting ending to the story arc of the last five episodes that fits perfectly with the dark themes of the comic. The entire season needs to be played to fully comprehend the fallout of the events of episode five. The Walking Dead is without a doubt one of the highlights of 2012 and a game I readily recommend to anyone.
This review is based on a downloadable copy of the 360 version of The Walking Dead: No Time Left.