The Walking Dead: No Time Left: Much-needed closure

November 27, 2012

There’s a lot of closure in The Walking Dead‘s final chapter, and I haven’t cringed so much while playing a game in a long time. It’s hard to reconcile my feelings that everybody should play this game with my innate want to keep people from being sad. The whole thing is brilliant (especially the final act), but when the credits rolled I had tears welling up in my eyes and I’m not sure that I have it in me to replay the game for a while. On the other hand, I’m absolutely ready for season two to release next year, so that I can buy it as soon as I can. I need to know what happens to this universe and the people who inhabit it.

Despite not being the protagonist, I would argue that the main character of The Walking Dead is Clementine. Lee’s goal is never to get out of Macon, to find a boat or to infiltrate a community and steal their supplies. Sure, he does those things, but his goal is always to ensure that Clementine is safe. Lee is all of us and that shines through in our individual decisions. That gameplay element is never more clear than it is in No Time Left.

Since this is the final episode of the season choices made have quick consequences. Entire sections of the game can be tackled solo or in a group; your choice there impacts not only how tense the situation is but what avenues for progress are available. My Lee is completely impossible for a solo player to get, and I’m glad mine turned out like he did, because it shows just how single-minded I was in my determination to attain my goal.

Prior decisions and plot points are closed out in this episode as well. Previously, whether you raided the car back in Starved for Help is addressed, previous arguments come back to be discussed, ramifications of the train ride in Long Road Ahead are found and all of your major decisions are called into question by various characters. It’s exceedingly well-done, and it really shows that no matter what you decided or how you justified it the outside view can always be different. I’m comfortable with how my journey unfolded, but others could look at my choices, label me a monster, and be justified in their opinion. They’d have evidence and everything.

Technically, The Walking Dead is fine. I experienced occasional sound issues, but those have been present for me since A New Day, and I’m not convinced that my machine isn’t to blame. Where I know my computer isn’t at fault is the game eating saves for some users. It’s really unfortunate in a game littered with choice and dripping with personality to randomly take that away from a handful of players. Back up your save before starting No Time Left. Hopefully you won’t be affected (I wasn’t), but a backup of your save can’t hurt.

It’s a rare thing for a game to put its story front-and-center and to succeed so rightly. Gameplay-wise The Walking Dead is nothing special, but the “choose your own adventure” book has come to life, merged with zombie fiction, and created something truly special. I get wrapped up in stories a lot, and The Walking Dead, but especially No Time Left really, is a narrative tour de force that I firmly believe everybody should experience.

Pros: A well-written end to a well-written story, prior choices feel important, genuinely emotional ride
Cons: Some users are affected by a save glitch

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.

{ 1 comment }

Henry Skey November 27, 2012 at 12:50 am

I just finished this a few hours ago. Not since the ending of “Grave of the Fireflies” have I felt so emotionally affected by a piece of entertainment. One one hand, it’s more of an interactive graphic novel with very little gameplay to speak of. On the other hand, it’s a brilliant example of digital, interactive entertainment. I felt for these characters, moreso than 99% of any character I’ve ever come across, fiction or non-fiction. Shouldn’t that count for something? Absolutely, yes. This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had playing a game and instantly a game of the year candidate for me. Great review, Justin!