SPOILER ALERT: This review does contain some small spoilers so if you haven’t played Episode 2 yet then you might want to stop reading now. I tried to stay as general as I could but there are certain points where that just wasn’t possible.
The Walking Dead Episode 2: Starved For Help is the second episode in TellTale Games’ five-part survival horror saga. “Starved For Help” picks up three months after the events of the first episode and we find Lee and a man we don’t know in the forest hunting. Food has become scarce and the power of hunger has become stronger than the group’s fear of death by zombie. They have done what humans always do after the initial shock of chaotic events, they adapted.
As they move through the woods, they come across some animals that they could possibly kill for food but ultimately decide that they can’t risk the sound of gunfire bringing walkers. As they are about to head back to the Motor Inn, they hear a scream and for some unknown reason they run towards it. [SPOILER ALERT, LAST WARNING] They come upon three individuals, two young boys and a man who has gotten has ankle caught into what “appears” to be a standard bear trap. Before they can really understand what has happened, the situation is exacerbated by the appearance of walkers in the distance. This is your first big decision, do you try to help the man out of the trap or do you leave him to die? I decided to try to save the man and discovered that this was in fact no ordinary bear trap I was dealing with. It had been tampered with an ultimately I was forced to make a gruesome decision but I did manage to save the man.
We all returned to the Motor Inn and conflict instantly broke out about the fact that we had brought more “mouths to feed” back to the Inn when we already knew that we didn’t have enough to feed the people we already had. This is where The Walking Dead shines, constantly juxtaposing your overall humanity against the realistic parameters of what is necessary to survive. At this point, we also get our first exposure to the level of severity the situation between Kenny and Lilly has gotten to as they both vie to lead the group. Everyone is under stress and perhaps none more than Lily, as she has taken on the role of rationing out the food since nobody else seems to want the responsibility.
In order to give Lee a small taste of what she has to deal with on a daily basis, she task him with giving out that day’s rations, there are 10 hungry mouths to feed yet there are only 4 pieces of food. There is no winning combination here, no matter who you give food to there will be repercussions. It turns out to be very tough to do, do you feed the children because they are the smallest or do you feed the adults who need their strength the most?
After finishing out the rationing task I went to check on the man we had brought in with us, unfortunately he didn’t make it. After letting Katjaa know that she did her best trying to save him, I went back to cover him up and the damn guy grabs me. At first I thought that maybe Katjaa had gotten it wrong in saying that he was dead, but I quickly realized that he was in fact dead or at this point undead. One of the great action sequences takes place and we manage to stop him. Another major argument breaks out about the fact that we should have checked to make sure he wasn’t bitten before bringing him back. Then a bombshell is dropped by the young kid,Ben, as he realizes that we really have no idea how this is actually spreading. Ben reveals that whatever is causing people to turn into zombies, it’s not necessarily the bites that do it. Ben explains that a young girl that he is positive was never bitten, died and came back as a zombie. He relays the fact that whatever this thing is, everyone already has it and when they die they are all destined to met the same horrible fate.
Before the weight of what Ben just said really has a chance to sink in the group are approached by the St. John brothers, Andrew and Danny. The brothers tell them that they own a dairy farm and that they are willing to trade food for gas to run the generators that protect the property. The group is cautious but with food stores running low they really have no choice but to go and at least check out what these guys are saying.
The group sends Mark, Doug/Carley, Ben, and Lee along with the brothers to see if everything is one the up and up. On the way the group gets their first introduction to a new threat, bandits. They watch as the bandits argue with one another over food, until one pulls out a gun and kills the other bandit in cold blood. The group waits until the murdering bandit leaves and continues to make their way to the farm. Upon arriving at the farm the group meets Andrew and Danny’s mother, Brenda St. John. They are amazed at how untouched the farm looks, if you didn’t know better you might think there was no massive Zombie outbreak even happening. After surveying the property, you have some concerns that something isn’t quite right but acknowledge that it just might be your own paranoia. After giving you some biscuits, Brenda mentions that their last cow is sick and Mark mentions that they have a veterinarian in their group. This prompts Brenda to say that they should bring the whole group up to the farm for a big dinner. You agree and send Doug/Carley and Ben to get everyone else while taking the biscuits back with them.
From this point on, you are faced without absolute chaos as you try to protect yourself from the bandits and find out exactly what the big secret is that they St. John’s are keeping. If I told you this was going to end well, then I’d be lying because it doesn’t. If you thought some crazy sh$@! happened in the first episode, you haven’t seen anything yet. When you find out the true cost if the St. John’s little piece of heaven, you might decide its much too high a price to pay.
Overall, The Walking Dead Episode 2: Starved For Help is a solid follow-up to Episode 1. The episode does a great job of progressing and evolving the story while introducing the new threat of the Bandits. In terms of overall story, I’m not quite sure it was as strong as Episode 1 but that is understandable as I expect Episodes 2 and 3 to be foundational episodes that set up huge events in the final two episodes. Episode 2 definitely keeps the pressure on players with some very hard choices while continuing the evolution of all the character relationships. Episode 2 also has a lot more unanswered questions leaving players to wonder how all the pieces fit together.
I can’t find a lot not to dislike about Episode 2, I really enjoyed it but there was one thing. After finishing Episode 2 instead of getting this great sense of accomplishment and excitement that I got after finishing the first one, I got this huge feeling of dread and disappointment. My immediate thought upon completion was “How long will I have to wait for Episode 3?” I have discussed this at length before and I still feel that large gaps between episodes will hurt the game in the long run and creates a disconnect between the players and the game that is never good.
My biggest hope for The Walking Dead Episode 3: Long Road Ahead is that it doesn’t take quite so long to get to players because come August things start to ramp up in terms of big game releases and player’s attention will be elsewhere. Of course all the players that bought the season pass, myself included, will eventually return to it to finish our journey they could be losing a lot of folks who have to this point only bought single episodes. Bottom line is that if you enjoyed Episode 1 then you will enjoy this one just as much. If you haven’t played The Walking Dead yet and you don’t mind waiting a bit between episodes, I suggest you play it. If you do the mind waiting, I suggest you wait until they all come out and buy it then, but I must say that I don’t see any scenario (barring a significant drop in quality of the last 3 episodes) where you shouldn’t at some point buy this game.