Here we are. It’s time to cash in our chips and suck up to our decisions. The Walking Dead end is here and not only does it close out the season brilliantly, it propels it to the top of the ‘best of 2012′ list. No Time Left has us guiding Lee through a ravaged Savannah in search of Clementine, who’s been abducted by an unknown party. To make things worse, Lee’s been infected and it’s only a matter of time before he bites the dust (or someone’s neck).
As in recent Telltale Games releases, The Walking Dead is more of an action focused adventure game, with light to no inventory management. You have direct control over the main character, Lee, for most of the time, while on others, you’re either button mashing to get out of sticky situations or engaging in dialogue that present multiple choices that influence what happens to other characters, Lee himself and the story, of course. Episode five concludes the season, adding up all of your decisions and actions from previous chapters, serving up a satisfying conclusion that should move and leave you wanting for more.
In terms of episodic storytelling and the power of choice, The Walking Dead mostly works. During the entire season, a doubt formed in my head as to whether or not the choices presented were really making a difference. Throughout the episodes, that question presented itself multiple times, as some early consequences didn’t really satiate my curiosity. Those doubts, however, were promptly waved off in this latest episode, which left me wondering about several ‘what ifs’. What if I had left that guy behind? Or if Lee had gone in alone through this ordeal? Episode five does the entire season of The Walking Dead right. It makes you want to replay through it all again.
Like an excellent book or one of the many timeless movies everyone loves, this series is bound to be discussed to death among fans (pardon the pun), thanks to a neatly tied script and incredible acting. Not voice acting, but acting as a whole. Telltale has managed to bring life to these characters through a gorgeous combination of animation and voice direction. Clementine, for instance really looks, moves and sounds like a little girl, and up to this point in the series, it’s tough not grown to care for her and be worried about her fate.
No Time Left is easily the shortest of the episodes in the season, but its impact is probably the deepest. After all, this is the culmination of many tough choices throughout the series. Thankfully, Telltale has crafted a tight story that wraps up quite nicely, leaving just enough questions to warrant and justify the already announced second season. Without going into spoiler territory, past what was already revealed about previous chapters, you will want more after you are done.
Treating this review not only as a recommendation for this episode but for the entire season altogether, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind The Walking Dead is Telltale’s finest game. This is one of 2012′s finest games, pointing towards and opening way to a resurgence of adventure games that go beyond the “fetch this, connect it to that” formula that bogged down that genre into obscurity. I’ve already made the connection to books before, so bear with me again as I rely on this comparison yet again. This is required playing for anyone remotely interested in the franchise or games in general. Do yourself a favor and immerse yourself in the world of The Walking Dead.