Platforms PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Vita, OUYA
Publisher/Developer Telltale Games
Genre Interactive Adventure Platform Played PC
All That Remains produced one of Telltale’s best episodic content, introducing some combustible elements to The Walking Dead – Season Two. With such a high bar raised by Telltale’s previous outing, In Harm’s Way had a tough act to follow. Fortunately, Episode Three continues to provide some memorable moments that will alter Season Two drastically, although the effects of our choices have been dialed back considerably, when compared to Episode Two.
In Harm’s Way focused around newly introduced villain Bill Carver, and his dictator-like oppression he forces upon his followers and captives. This is one of the most interesting aspects of Episode Three, providing a brutal environment where Clementine and her friends are faced with ever-growing danger at every corner.
Carver has been able to keep his followers in line with his violence-focused unpredictability; he is a sociopath who looks to enforce his will upon others in sadistic fashion. This unpredictable aspect of Carver provided a sense of fear every time he was on screen. It didn’t matter if you were man, woman, or even child; Carver won’t hesitate to showcase his menacing demeanor on those who defy his rule. Carver sees himself as a Messiah of sorts, one who must lead his flock with an iron fist to strengthen future generations, but also weed out those he doesn’t deem strong enough to survive. If you showcase weakness, Carver will sense it out, like a shark drawn to the sight and smell of blood.
These characteristics give Carver a complex mentality. Although he is a brutal dictator at first glance, he sees his actions as a means of improving the future of human survival. One dimensional villains are a dime a dozen these days, with lack of complexity and reasoning behind their madness. Carver may very well have psychological problems beyond reprieve, but these interesting personality traits add to the villain overall. Though Carver certainly has the right idea regarding strengthening human survival, his means become cruel and unnerving. These moments where Carver flexes his authorial muscle become some of the most memorable and appalling scenes the series has seen, which help In Harm’s Way stand out; even if these moments may have some players disturbed.
These moments did a strong job at humanising the characters that have been introduced this season. Throughout the episode, many of the regular cast of The Walking Dead must face some tough challenges, decisions, and consequences. After such a strong band of characters in Season One, the focus on providing well-rounded personalities for these previously introduced characters in Season Two worked well.
Alongside previous new additions, there were also the inclusion of more new characters within Episode Three. However, they mainly felt like old territory. We have previously dealt with the loner-type-badass character in this Telltale series before, when we were introduced to the fan-favourite Molly last season. Which left me wondering why Telltale didn’t just choose to re-introduce her character, rather than look to establish a new carbon-copy character in the series.
During our time playing as Clementine this season, we have seen many sides of the character and had a strong influence in how she is portrayed. In Harm’s Way further pushes the emphasis on creating our own personal version of Clementine, providing some definitive moments of choice for the character. These moments will no doubt evolve Clementine during the final instalments of Season Two, but the details of this evolution is left to the player; who ultimately will define who ‘their’ Clementine will become.
In Harm’s Way is a narrative centric episode, which only offers a couple of gameplay based exploration that fans of Walking Dead have become accustomed too. This isn’t a bad thing. The focus on story rather than puzzles and exploration allowed for Telltale to provide some excellent dialogue throughout the episode. Whether we are showcased characters dealing with their new situation, reacting to shocking events, or even reminiscing on past traumatic experiences, every conversation feels important and emotionally driven.
All That Remains was such a special episode for The Walking Dead because it provided drastically different conclusions depending how you handled its conclusion. In Harm’s Way feels like the other side of the coin in this regard, which barely offered much difference no matter how I tackled situations during my second playthrough. In Harm’s Way almost feels like Telltale has hit the reset button following the contrast differences that players could experience in Episode Two. I got the strong feeling that Telltale was reeling in the players’ choices, and bringing every player to the same destination, before we hit the final instalments of Season Two. Experiencing In Harm’s Way while following different decisions, only to realise many of your choices were a mere illusion of control was a stark difference from previous episodes in the series.
I must also commend Telltale for allowing the player to avoid backtracking areas that require exploration. When Clementine is introduced to these previously explored areas, we are greeted to a cut scene that progresses us through these locations rather than retracing our steps. It is a minor appreciation, but helps allow the narrative to keep moving forward rather than including meaningless busy work to extend the episode length.
I also appreciated that characters are finally questioning why they make Clementine participate in every dangerous activity (something I have questioned in the past). It makes sense that a player must interact during these critical moments rather than sit back and watch others partake in these vital instances, but it never made much sense for such tasks to given to a mere child. Even if they were raised by Lee Everett himself.
In Harm’s Way further explores the world Bill Carver has created, inserting our survivors into precarious, heart wrenching, and downright despicable circumstances. These moments allowed for previously introduced characters to be explored, fleshing out their personalities along the way. However Clementine is the star of the show and the ability to further define who she is as an individual, leaves me interested in how they will affect her moving forward.
Telltale seems to have reeled in all players during Episode Three, providing an illusion of choice during big decisions. In Harm’s Way leaves many unanswered questions regarding the final two episodes of Season Two, rather than building towards an eventual end goal. These decisions essentially bring every player to the same destination before we experience the final two episodes of Season Two. Is this a strong decision? Only time will tell.
+ Carver’s unpredictability
+ Further defining “our” version of Clementine
+ Excellent written dialogue
+ Further fleshing out previously introduced characters
– Choices feel meaningless
– New characters feel too familiar
The Score: 8.5