The Walking Dead: Episode Two Xbox Live Arcade Review

Article first published as XBLA Review: The Walking Dead – Episode 2: “Starved for Help” on Blogcritics.

Tell Tale Games made good on their promise to have Episode Two of The Walking Dead: The Game available on Xbox Live Arcade before the end of June.  Luckily, I was able to get a sneak peak of Starved for Help at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles in June.  The nearly half hour of playthrough I watched prepared me for some of the early decisions in this episode.  Unfortunately, that didn’t really help as I got further into it.  This newest installment gets pretty intense, particularly towards the end and if you’re squeamish, this may not be the game for you.

If you’ve played the first episode or read the review, you know Episode One is great to look at and a lot of fun.  The series is not only a great game on its own but, the choices you’re allowed to make in the game give an ownership, unprecedented in Xbox Live Arcade or PSN games.  Each of the episodes will only take from three to four hours but not since the Choose Your Own Adventure books has branching entertainment been so compelling.  Before starting Episode Two, you might want to go back and make sure you played through Episode One the way you intended.

The Walking Dead: Episode 2: Starved for Help starts three months after the events of the events of the first game and there are many new characters that will cross your path.  The main character and Ex-Con, Lee Everetts’s group has fortified the motel from Episode One, which may have a different appearance depending on your earlier choices.  Though, they were able to stock up on food and supplies, that food is now nearly gone and nothing breeds discontent like hunger.  If the clashing personalities weren’t enough to deal with and they are, there are plenty more hard choices to come. Hard choices, disturbing choices, Episode Two is hands down the most macabre game you can buy on Xbox Live Arcade.

The Walking Dead game which borrows heavily from vintage survival horror games and the classic adventure games on PC is presented in cel-shaded scenes with fixed camera angles. In this episode as the group travels in game a bit more, a couple of the shots appear slightly incongruous.  The camera is occasionally adjustable, depending on the scene with the right analog stick.  Your character Lee moves directly with the left analog stick and shaded crosshairs work like mouse cursor.  When they come across an item or person Lee can interact with, icons pop onto the display with your choice of action.  In Episode Two it does seem as there are a few more quick time events than first episode.

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