Walking Dead Episode 2: Starved for Help is all about the concept of sustainability -how do you live in a world that is overrun by the dead? This is not about finding new survivors or running away from zombies, this is about securing where you are for an indefinite period of time. And when the rest of the world around you is in ruins, it is not a simple task to succeed in. Episode 2 places Lee and company in a desperate pinch -being faced with the danger of starving to death.
What is Going On?
If you have only played up to episode 1, then it is likely that you already have a slight clue about the current situation. Anyone who has not finished the first episode should stop reading right now -massive spoilers ahead.
The motel that Glenn scoped out did not yield much in terms of resources, but it did offer the survivors something important: shelter. With a massive open area in the center, solid walls, and a defensible single entrance, the motel turned out to be quite a fitting fort against the walkers. Of course, the team has also had the luck of not running into any giant herds that would endanger them all, but that is beside the point. Thanks to the motel, they have found safety from both the weather and from the dead. Also, it provided enough room for them to work on the RV, which is crucial to their survival.
Things get interesting when Lee brings back a few straggling survivors from the forest -which causes an uproar in the group -having more mouths to feed when food is almost out is never a pretty scenario. But just as things are about to come to a head, a couple of wandering men start knocking at the motel gates.
Not Another Farm
The TV season of Walking Dead had a much hated “farm season” (season 2), which was hated not because of the setting in a farm, but due to the fact that it mostly revolved around character drama as opposed to dealing with zombies. All things considered, fans of both the comics and the TV show would certainly shudder the moment they realize that this next part of the game brings them to a similar location. The good news is that the events about to unfold are nothing short of exciting. The bad news is that crap is about to hit the fan in the most unimaginable ways.
The St. Johns family is composed of two brothers (Andrew and Danny) and their mother (Brenda). The three run a very simple setup -they use their farm to grow food, then they trade the food for gasoline with survivors from the outside. The gas is then used as fuel for the generators that power the electric fence that protects the entire farm from walkers and intruders. It sounds simple and tempting enough for the Macon survivors to consider taking in Brenda’s open hospitality, but in this world of zombie-eats-man, things are never as simple, or a safe, as they seem to be.
Getting Under Your Skin
Lee Everett, Clementine, and all the other survivors from the first game are back (those who managed to survive anyway). This means that either Doug or Carley will be in your party -which depends on who you decided to save near the end of the first game. Mostly, these guys are referred to as the Macon group/survivors in Walking Dead fandom, but officially they have no group name.
As mentioned, two sets of new characters -one is the group that Lee found in the forest, and the other set is the three members of the St. Johns. As with all zombie related events, things are certainly going to get too complicated -after all, bringing in a bunch of road-weary and hungry survivors into a fully working farm is bound to have its issues. And things will only take a turn for the worse once the farm’s internal problems begin to rise from the cracks.
Fortunately, players will have the advantage of having familiar controls and gameplay to help ease the transition. Selecting responses, exploring the area, investigating the world -it all boils down to a few easy commands. It really helps a lot if you want to get through the game with the least amount of going-back and forth as possible; finishing the first game already teaches you everything you need to know about solving puzzles and more importantly, getting the story to move along. If you are ever stuck, then it simply means that you have missed on one of a few possible things: found an object, spoken to another character, or lastly, interacted with certain background contents.
Watch Out, Undead Spoilers!
With the entire series already out, it is quite hard to avoid reading information about this game that would lead to massive spoilers. At this point, you may as well skip out this part of the review as we discuss some of the more ‘meatier’ details of Starved for Help (if you are the type who does not like spoilers).
Walking Dead’s creators have long stated that the comics is more than just a story about a zombie apocalypse, it was also a story that follows a man’s slow, yet inevitable descent into madness (and yes, they were talking about the protagonist of the comics and the TV series, Rick). The Telltale games are not entirely parallel with the comics in terms of character breakdown, but the idea is still there. Lee Everett is holding up well as compared to Rick -then again, Lee has less traumatizing events to go through.
The parallelism is, instead, found in the events that happen around Lee and the other characters around him. Episode 1 was all about the shock of finding oneself in a zombie infested world and manages to find a way to survive. Episode 2 delves into how one actually lives in a world gone mad. Self-preservation, stalking, kidnapping, rape, obsession, gang-mentality, and of course, the ever controversial concept of cannibalism are all brought up at one point or another (and with cannibalism, it basically serves as the main point of interest in the climactic end). And as a final tip: try to warn Clementine in time -it would help you later on if you do.
If you decide to play all 5 episodes of the Walking Dead series in a single go, then it would feel as if you were playing a single long game -which it really is. The division into 5 separate fragments simply serves as major checkpoints in the story. Each of the parts lead to the next, and playing everything is required to make the experience complete. That being said, the developers ensured that your gameplay experience will be seamless. The transition from each episode to the next is marked by unique previews -teasers that give you a glimpse of what new dilemmas you will be facing next and also, what impact your decisions have had with the events to follow.
The visual design and choice of audio is consistent, further reinforcing the feel of a solid storyline. And having the same visuals for all five episodes is not a problem considering that Walking Dead’s amazingly well detailed and nicely animated cel-shaded 3D models fit so well in the game. The voice acting gives a real sense of life and emotion of the events that unfold before you.
Aside from looking good, the functional aspects of the game’s visuals are also top notch. The visual cues for telling you that an object can be interacted with is easy to find and there are plenty enough shelves, crevices, pathways, and other possible actions that can be done to make you feel that you are in a real world, facing real dangers.
To say that we are utterly impressed with The Walking Dead Episode 2: Starved for Help is a given. And when you look at the game’s excellent story delivery, emotionally charged voice acting, dramatic visuals, intuitive controls, and the way that it tugs straight at your heart as it forces you to make every single impossible decision for Lee Everett and the Macon survivors, it is easy to see why this 5-part game is such a critically acclaimed masterpiece with the next Walking Dead Ep 3 proving just as delectable. And considering all that, it also comes as to no surprise that we rate Starved for Help with a pretty high score. We give this game a hungry zombie-hunter’s 94/100.