The second episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne continues where the first episode left off, but delivers less of a consistent experience than the season premiere.
Telltale Games has now released the second episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne, the penultimate episode of a miniseries designed to shed some light on the fan favorite walker-dropper who lends her own name to the game. The studio has managed to keep The Walking Dead: Michonne to a pretty tight release schedule so far, and Telltale Games will be hoping the upcoming final episode will keep fans entertained until the main series returns later this year.
Things didn’t get off to a great start with the second episode, as my save file for the season premiere seemed to have been killed when the game updated to the newest episode. Unlike the walkers, it did not rear its face again – after a quick sweep of the Steam forums, it looks like this problem is a fairly widespread one, and one that Telltale Games will hopefully address quickly.
Thankfully, Give No Shelter was mostly uphill after the slow start. The story picks up directly where the first episode ended, throwing players into a few quick action sequences to get the blood pumping again. Michonne’s vivid (and increasingly frequent) hallucinations help the player understand her character on a deeper level, and she will finally be given the opportunity to speak to someone about her past. As a nice bonus for comic fans, Give No Shelter will also reveal the names of her two daughters: Elodie and Colette.
As is always the biggest worry with any Telltale title, the second episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne concludes with growing concerns that a player’s choices may ultimately have no significant impact on the plot. Though most of the episode is spent between hallucinations and beating a hasty retreat through walker hordes, players are given few major choices – one of which is debating whether to kill a prisoner or not. Of course, the prisoner is more valuable as a bargaining chip than a corpse, but as the episode 3 preview shows, the player will be under hostile attack from the prisoner’s group regardless of whether they kill the prisoner or not.
The impact of choices aside, Telltale Games has continued to perfect the artistry behind their highly stylized titles, and for the most part they continue to be exemplary in Give No Shelter. Gone are the over-exaggerated faces and slow reaction shots of their first titles, now replaced by more realistic movements that keep the story chugging along without feeling awkward. The locations players will see in this episode give off a very ‘lived in, with disrepair’ vibe, which is exactly what one wants in the world of The Walking Dead, and does justice to the comical canon. However, there were a few graphical hiccups involving some characters not having their guns render, and another character’s head snapping back into a preset position when interrupted by the player, which was off-putting.
That might work better if you were holding a gun, lady.
Up until this point, The Walking Dead: Michonne had fared reasonably well in keeping with a realistic, proper Walking Dead-esque interpretation of the world. Unfortunately, this seems to go up in smoke as events unfold in the latest episode; a fire from a single flare seems to instantly engulf an entire harbor aflame like everything was coated in gasoline, and ultimately results in a hyperbolic Michael Bay Hollywood scene rather than one more in-keeping with The Walking Dead. Another character has a completely avoidable death, and gamers will be left shaking their heads in the unconvincing moments that lead up to it – it’s predictable and does a disservice to the episode, as the death feels like an awkwardly forced transition to get the plot moving forward. It’s fine that it happened, it’s how it happened that feels like sloppy storytelling, a characteristic that thankfully doesn’t pop up too much in The Walking Dead as a whole.
To make up for the narrative’s fumbles, the action in this episode does give some definite highlights. As usual, players will be going through several quicktime events and mashing some buttons to make Michonne do what she does best, resulting in some of Telltale Games’ most brutal death scenes, with the flaregun headshot clearly taking the cake as the episode’s must brutal kill. There’s no shortage of action in Give No Shelter, which does a good job mixing story and action sequences to keep players at the edge of their seat throughout the episode.
Aside from the introspective look at Michonne herself, the second episode doesn’t deliver much character development for anyone other than Sam, and the episode will leave players wondering how the writers will pen a story that ties all the groups together in a cohesive manner. In any event, the story wasn’t bad – it just didn’t seem to match the high standards that Telltale Games has come to be known for.
The title of Give No Shelter gives credence to the theme of the episode, with shelter playing a central role with the likes of Norma’s harbor and Sam’s family compound, to the flashbacks of Michonne being unable to physically shelter for her kids from the dangers of the outbreak. The episode delivers plenty of action and a couple of ‘big moment’ choices, but the narrative unfortunately shows some cracks underneath the metaphorical armor. It was still an enjoyable episode, but we hope The Walking Dead: Michonne ends on a stronger note when the third and final episode releases. If nothing else, the excellent portrayal of Michonne deserves a more polished sendoff than this episode delivered.
The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 2 is available now for PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and PS4.