The Walking Dead series has always been known for more than just simple killing tons of zombies. Both the comic book and television series both delve into the challenges to one’s humanity, group dynamics and the personal relationships of the cast members.
Starved for Help, the second episode from Telltale Games does just that. It has been three months since the first episode and the outbreak of the zombie plague. The story now shifts from surviving the initial outbreak to living in a zombie filled world without the creature comforts and luxuries we take for granted – like food. We pick back up with our protagonist Lee Everett and his rag tag group of survivors who are holed up in a motel parking lot. When some friendly faces from a farm up the road happen upon their stronghold the story begins to pick up.
The story in Starved for Help focuses on the human aspect of the apocalypse, namely how you interact with your group and how strangers interact with one another. While the first episode of the game was rather gloomy, episode two takes a decisively dark tone. The episode brings Lee face to face with the inhumanity of others and demonstrates the desperate measures some will go to in order to survive.
As Lee there are plenty of tough life or death choices to make in this episode. After playing through the first episode I thought I knew the boundaries of my decisions but Telltale has done a great job of turning my pre-conceived notions on their head. I found myself making choices against members of the group I allied with in the previous episode and perhaps even endangering myself and others. This demonstrates Telltale’s ability to weave a story and present the player with choices they may not be comfortable making.
Apart from the life or death choices there are equal gut wrenching decisions early one in the episode. One of which includes amputation while the other involves handing out food rations to only a few members of your group. The fact that I felt genuine emotion, while playing a video game is a tremendous feat on the part of the developers.
There are plenty of zombies present in Starved for Help but the real hook in the gameplay is the carryover of relationships and decisions from episode one. I was challenged to remember exactly what lies or truths I told to my fellow survivors. Choosing incorrectly would change their opinion of Lee and their reactions to his actions. As I talked about in my review of episode one the timed responses add a great deal of realism and importance to the conversations. My only gripe is that I wish the timer was just a little longer. There are times when I hastily pressed a button before I could read all of the possible responses.
There are a few minor technical gripes that seem to happen fairly often in Starved for Help. There are some slight lip syncing and animation issues. The on screen animations will freeze quite often when the scenes change. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means but it does tend to break the immersion of the game.
Episode 2 – Starved for Help is a fantastic follow up to the first episode of The Walking Dead game. I appreciate how dark the developers are willing to go with their story and the carryover of my decisions from the first episode. With those few minor gripes aside I can honestly say that I’m enamored with this game and it is one of my highlights of 2012 thus far.
This review is based on a downloadable copy of the 360 version of The Walking Dead: Starved for Help.