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The Walking Dead: Season 2 – In Harm’s Way (PS3) Review

/ Jul 29th, 2014 No Comments

The Walking Dead: Season 2

“In Harm’s Way” is the mid-point of The Walking Dead: Season 2. The foundation for the larger conflict and reintroduction of Clementine was handled in “All That Remains” and “A House Divided.” “In Harm’s Way” picks up where “A House Divided” left off; Clementine and the other survivors are captured, restrained and brought to Carver’s compound.

Clementine and the remaining survivors are in a tough spot throughout “In Harm’s Way.” They are prisoners under the thumb of a deranged, psychopathic despot. The episode creates an oppressive and hostile atmosphere in Carver’s compound. However, what the episode portrays best is that Carver and his people are capable of doing unspeakable actions.

Sunshine And Rainbows

Clementine made some difficult choices in “A House Divided.” Her choices influenced who survived and how everything went down with a powerful enemy force. She tried to save everyone, but failed. Now, the group is tied up riding in the back of a truck on their way to some place under the control of Carver.

This is not a good situation. Not only is Carver insane, but his people follow him blindly. As prisoners in Carver’s compound, Clem and the others will find no friendly face nor any help. Carver’s people don’t view them as prisoners, but simply new people waiting to be integrated into the group.
 

The Walking Dead: Season 2

Trapped like rats.

Luck would have it that Carver is a complete psychopath because they are not the only prisoners in the compound. When they enter the shabby “forced labor” camp, a familiar face greets Rebecca and the others from her group. Reggie shows them around the camp and gives them the lowdown on what has happened since they escaped. Although this old relation may seem like a route to escape, it is not to be.

The affable Reggie is no help because he has a desire to get back into Carver’s good graces. That leaves escaping the compound up to Clementine and the rest. However, without help from anyone on the inside and no clue where Luke is, the group must bide their time and wait for any opening while fending off the lunacy of Carver and his people. Escape is a must and the situation is dire. How will Clementine navigate this dangerous situation?

“In Harm’s Way” presents players with difficult choices. The beauty is that they are never apparently good or evil.

By placing you in the role of Clem, what is good and bad becomes hard to determine. We know where Clem has been and what she has gone through, but we also know what it takes to survive because we’ve played as Lee. However, the clear adage from Season 1 of kindness usually having clear consequences is skewed.

Season 2 plays off players’ knowledge and expectations of how to play in fascinating ways. It becomes the difference between helping Sarah with her chores an innocuous gesture from a good friend or a transgressive act from a malcontent.

The ending of this episode turns foreknowledge of something said in this episode, the Telltale series, and the Walking Dead franchise on its head. What you know to be the acceptable action in this particular scenario may not be seen as such by others.

Born to Run

The midway point of The Walking Dead: Season 2 aims to add some new variety to the gameplay formula. This appears in the form of stealth missions involving Clementine. She must avoid detection on her way into a delivery bay. Inside the delivery bay are two walkie talkies, which are the cornerstones to the group’s escape.

The mission involves scrambling through a room to find the entrance point to the bay. Once Clem finds the entrance, she must descend into the area using palettes stacked to the roof.
 

The Walking Dead: Season 2

Carver is a terrifying force of violence.

As Clem maneuvers through the shelves and palettes, a guard lurks below. Luckily, the guard is distracted by a conversation with someone on the roof staring at walkers.

Clem must remove the walkie talkies without being detected. This boils down to performing a few button presses while the guard is looking away. With walkie talkies in hand, the escape is much quicker, which makes the whole situation trivial.

While the mission breaks up the formula, the lack of consequences makes the stealth aspect muddled. Thanks to great visual direction and sound design, the moment has builds tension familiar to the series. The major scuffle at the end of the episode is incredibly harrowing and full of action. It is a great way to close out the group’s escape.

Overall

The Walking Dead: Season 2 third episode ends with an extremely difficult decision. After making this tough choice, the episode is over, leaving players to contemplate if they did the right thing. The gap between episodes works well in The Walking Dead’s case because episodes are so packed with gut wrenching scenarios and harrowing decisions to make.

Having some time between episodes lets players contemplate the severity of those decisions and what they mean. It also allows Telltale to tell an exceedingly dark story because, spoiler alert, things are only going to get worse for Clementine.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. Currently, he lives in Tustin, California. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON 2 – IN HARM’S WAY (PS3) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall92%

GAMEPLAY9

"In Harm's Way" shakes up the Telltale formula a bit to include a few sneak missions. They manage to create some good tension despite lacking clear boundaries/consequences for failure. The action in the game remains frenzied, intense, and terrifying.

GRAPHICS9

Carver's compound looks as ragged and bleak as anything else in the series, but the supermarket turned fortress has an added dimension of oppression. There are some framerate/lag issues that make getting into the episode a bit tough.

SOUND9.5

The voice acting in the episode is top notch. While this is the best performance from Michael Madsen in maybe a decade, the special appearance from Kumail Nanjiani as Reggie outshines everything. Melissa Hutchinson continues to give an incredible performance as Clem.

STORY9.5

Helping Clementine and the others try to extricate themselves from their perilous predicament is exciting and dangerous. Season 2's commitment to making the consequences to choices not as apparent only gets better "In Harm's Way", especially with the ending.

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