What do we say to death? Not today!If you’re a Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead fan, it’s not really difficult to draw parallels between Arya Stark and Clementine. There is still tension, anxiety, and all sorts of emotions, but fear for Clementine is starting to feel alien. Fear for others? Certainly. Everyone dies eventually and in the zombie apocalypse, it’s often sooner rather than later. Episode 3, however, is starting to make Clementine feel like an invincible bad-ass.
At least, she feels that way in my play-through. It’s probably unwise for me to feel that way about her, given what happened to the protagonist of the first season, but Clementine is becoming a gaming icon that will stand out among heroes like Mario and Master Chief for years to come. Whether she’s played as a scared little girl or a confident, dangerous young woman, she’s a compelling character and Telltale has struck gold with her.
While the episode feels shorter, I clocked in a little over one hundred minutes, which makes it the longest experience in Season 2 yet. It’s possible that things fly by because it’s so heavily focused on human interaction, but I also interacted with the environment much less this time out. There weren’t as many opportunities to do so and the solution was always exceedingly clear. It felt like jumping from cut scene to cut scene and dialogue option to dialogue option. This gives it snappy pacing, but the illusion of less content.
Bill Carver is ever-present now and always watching. For me, this greatly diminished the threat. In Episode 2, he was the great unknown, the hunter and stalker. It almost felt like a Terminator on my trail that would never give up and there was the uncertainty of just what he’d do. In Episode 3, our villain has become obvious and predictable, the typical despot with delusions of benevolence. Clementine stared into his eyes and I saw him exactly for what he was — and it was disappointing. A violent, murderous, and sad little man who is living in his own little world given to him because the real one ended. He hearkens to the classic stereotype of post-apocalyptic dictators that we’ve seen in everything from The Book of Eli to The Postman. I liked it better when he was a predator I couldn’t get away from.
While the villain lost his mystique, the danger of the situation wasn’t lost on me. Most of my time was spent worrying about Clementine’s fellow survivors because I couldn’t imagine getting so many people together in a prison, surrounded by the undead, and everyone making it out alive. In the last review for Episode 2, I said that human beings at our worse are a bigger problem than the undead and this theme continued. The world is ending and the sensible thing to do would be work together, but instead, we continue to devise new ways to hurt, oppress, and kill one another.
Fortunately for the player, the whole horrifying experience manages to come together and find new ways to shock you. Think you’ve seen it all? Nothing else can disgust you? Maybe no level of violence will be shocking? Telltale finds a way and I commend them for it. When The Walking Dead stops surprising us, it just won’t be The Walking Dead anymore.
They still can’t quite seem to overcome the floating object glitch. I only saw it once for a fleeting second out of the corner of my eye, but it’s still present and persistent. As I said above, there is a lack of interaction with the environment this time out. There is exploration, but little in terms of creative problem-solving like in the first two episodes this season. Maybe Telltale wants to streamline the story and reduce gameplay interactions, but I still felt the loss of this element.
There is still plenty to be excited about in Episode 3 and I’m sure we’ll all be counting the minutes until the fourth entry. Anadel has been providing beautiful music for the end of credits and, while “Remember Me” is a beautiful song, it was the music that was referenced and not played that stuck with me the most. “Not in Nottingham,” written and performed by Roger Miller in Disney’s animated Robin Hood (1973), is a beautiful, melancholic song and also happens to be a brilliantly chosen name for one of the Episode 3 achievements. It simply fits the mood of the episode perfectly. If only our own weary, worn band of beleaguered survivors had a Robin Hood and Little John to stage a jailbreak.
Once again, Telltale has proven to be masterful at the narrative. The glitches, while still minor and not affecting the game, should still be dealt with, but it’s one of the few and petty flaws to be found in the series. More significantly, Carver isn’t a mysterious threat, but a transparent and obvious one this time around. The energy from Episode 2 is gone completely. I can’t help but feel the loss of Carver on the hunt ended too quickly and brought us into more familiar territory. Hopefully, we will see a new hook or twist come up in Episode 4 that doesn’t rely on a pregnant lady giving labor while zombies attack. All in all, it’s a good episode, but doesn’t quite keep up with what has come before.
Low Score – 7.0
Floating object glitch still not resolved
Carver’s mysterious threat is traded for something obvious and familiar
The energy of the last two episodes is gone
High Score – 9.0
Clementine is an unstoppable force of nature
Still manages to shock, disgust, horrify, and unsettle when you least expect it
The zombie apocalypse is a diverse place, great seeing such a variety of characters
Brilliant reference of “Not in Nottingham,” a move that captures the tone and makes Disney fitting in dark, dark place
Final Score 8.0