The lights are on
To say that The Walking Dead's third episode, Long Road Ahead, had a little hype around it's release is a massive understatement. After rumblings of just how far Episode Three would go in trying to make the player feel shocked and truly question the choices that they make, Telltale Games had very high expectations to live up to. The only question on peoples minds were whether Telltale could keep their momentum going after three episodes, and maybe even surpass it. After experiencing Long Road Ahead for myself, the answer I found, in a word, is yes.
Now if you read my blog on Telltale Games, which you can find here, you would know that when I played Long Road Ahead, I wasn't exactly feeling too happy going into it. But once I finally got my chance to play it, I just couldn't stay mad anymore. Instead, I found myself in a state of depressed enjoyment, meaning that while the game itself was immensely fun to play, the writers and Telltale did what they've done best throughout the series, and that was making crushingly depressing moments that lived on far after all was said and done.
The Walking Dead does something phenomenal in that when they create these shocking, bleak, and even heartfelt moments, they don't seem artificial. Whenever you see someone that's integral to the story get killed off unexpectedly, or even when it's been built up, it doesn't feel like it was forced or contrived. And when those characters do get the ax, whether the player liked or disliked them beforehand, you cant help but feel the emotional weight that the characters in the game are feeling at that very moment. And with just how many people get killed off, you'll get those feelings on more than one occasion.
Long Road Ahead is truly the bleakest entry in the series to date. Along with all the death that the group experiences throughout the episode, people are still grieving over their past losses and dealing with the fatigue from the daily grind as they try to stay alive. It's truly the episode that finally shows the group coming to terms with the fact that after months of waiting, nothing has changed for the better, and it may stay that way. Telltale again does a great job of expressing this, creating moments where one minute, you may hate a character, and the next, you sympathize with them because of these very reasons.
When it comes to gameplay, it is in it's very essence a standard point-and-click adventure game. And although there are a few puzzles sprinkled in here and there, there's very little to them and can be completed with ease. But for a game like The Walking Dead, this is very easy to forgive, as you'll be wanting to get to the next scene as quickly as possible anyway, which shows just how well done these scenes truly are.
The graphics get the job done, in that it does it's job of being faithful to the art style from the comic series that it's based off of, and keeps with it's tone as well. The character models are, however, fairly stiff looking, and most of the cutscenes that involve any type of action besides standing can look equally as stiff, which can slightly hurt the immersion that it's going for. This more than likely is something that isn't going to be changed in the final two episodes, as it's been like this from the beginning. It's only a minor aesthetic, but is something worth pointing out.
In the end, Long Road Ahead does what it set out to do and more. Telltale has once again outdone themselves in keeping the experience feeling fresh, impactful and still providing moments that are generally unexpected, while still keeping them in the tone that the game has created. If you've been holding off on enjoying one of Telltale Games finest entries to date, you owe it to yourself to experience what The Walking Dead has to offer, and experience what has been one of the most enjoyable games of the year. And for those that already have, just keep on enjoying the ride!
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