The Walking Dead: Episode Three-Long Road Ahead-Xbox Live Arcade Review

Article first published as XBLA Review: The Walking Dead – Episode 3: “Long Road Ahead” on Blogcritics.

Whatever advantage I got out of meeting with the developers of The Walking Dead game from TellTale Games at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, is long since gone.  At the Expo, they played through the beginning of Episode Two-Starved For Help and gave a little bit of insight into the choices players would make and the long term consequences of them. Except for the couple examples that were shared, the rest of the choices are all hard.  Episode Three-Long Road Ahead is the middle episode of what will eventually be essentially a five part interactive storybook.  TellTale recently announced the series will be released on disc after completion.

For those that ended up reading this review and are unfamiliar with The Walking Dead game, it is an adventure game based on the comic books that the TV show is adapted from.  The game does borrow heavily from the original comic book art style.  Unlike the comic and TV show though, The Walking Dead game tells a new story that starts right at the beginning of the outbreak.  The game puts players in the role of Lee a convict who escapes custody during the outbreak and ends up as caretaker for a young girl named Clementine.  A couple familiar characters have interacted with the group, but for the most part, the group Lee is in has nothing to do with the original comic book characters.

Long Road Ahead is paced a little differently than the previous episodes.  If Starved For Help was too macabre or over the top for your taste, Long Road Ahead is a little more languid and sentimental.  Though The Walking Dead game is mostly an interactive story, there are many adventure game elements.  This third episode is most adventure-y of the bunch, so far.  That’s not to say there’s not action but, it’s rarer in this time. Less action is a good thing, as the control scheme isn’t the most efficient and the awkward controls are often the culprit when Lee dies.

The Walking Dead game is not an action game, thankfully.  With the slower pace of Long Road Ahead, the clunky-ness of moving those crosshairs around and then selecting the action is magnified.  There are only a few occasions in this episode that require quick reflexes but they can be a little frantic and frustrating.  The majority of this segment is old school point and click adventuring with some puzzles thrown in for good measure.  The rest, are dialogue decisions.  These like in the last episode are starting to become a little frustrating when the choices you’re given don’t reflect what you want to do.

The funny thing about giving players choices is that they want more and more choices.  The Walking Dead game has now trained players to take ownership of Lee, Clementine and the rest of their group. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t and can’t always let players choose what they want to do.  In Starved For Help, I had figured out what was going on, before the game let it out of the bag and because of that, I was led kicking and screaming to the inevitable conclusion, unable to change the path of the group.  Long Road Ahead does the same thing but this time with more severe consequences.  For me, that cheapens the experience some.

My complaints about the limitations of The Walking Dead game aside, there really isn’t much like it.  TellTale’s previous efforts, like Back to the Future, fall short of the balance The Walking Dead achieves.  Really, the closest things in gaming are EA/Bioware’s Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, though The Walking Dead is on a much smaller scale and of course with zombies.  The comparisons are however inevitable and at least for this reviewer, I can’t help but want more from The Walking Dead games.  That by no means diminishes how fun this series really is.


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The Walking Dead: Long Road Ahead
The story is quite a bit less macabre than the last episode but hits more emotional notes. Some may find it slower paced but, my only complaint is that it's not quite as open ended as I'd like it to be.
The voice acting and sound are excellent in this series.
The art style is straight out of the comic books but there are some occasional technical issues .
This is is the real stretching point of this game. Like playing older survival horror games the difficulty is more in the controls than what is going on.
This middle point in the series takes its time but hits hard. There's nothing fun in an apocalypse and it never gets any easier