Well, it’s Wednesday (or it was when I started!), and even though it was nearly a month in the creation, I’ve finally managed to pin down my thoughts on all of the feels experienced during this last installment of my Walking Dead adventure. Before I begin, I’ll preface my recap by explaining why it took so long.
On the completion of every episode previous to the last, I immediately rushed to type up my play-through with aplomb, and usually with glee. After finishing the game I found myself, for the first time, unable to continue that trend. I exited the game and sat for a while, processing. Then I decided I was traumatised (drama queen) and I needed a nap. I awoke from this nap feeling a bit deflated and unwilling to face the suddenly unpleasant task of trying to figure out what it was I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it. When I compare it to how I felt when other games ended, the Mass Effect series for example, I wasn’t quite so disconsolate, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t affect me. Both in good ways and bad ways. After plenty of procrastination in the wake of that, I’ve booted myself in the booty and this is what I managed as a result.
If you haven’t yet read my previous recap installments of Episodes 1, 2, 3 and 4 you can do so by clicking these linkies:
My Walking Dead Experience Episode 1 – A New Day
My Walking Dead Experience Episode 2 – Starved For Help
My Walking Dead Experience Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead
My Walking Dead Experience Episode 4 – Around Every Corner
This is a play-by-play, walk-through of my own game. I wrote about my choices, the process behind making them, along with how I felt at various stages and a glimpse into my inner monologue throughout. It is a recap of my personal Walking Dead journey. If you ever plan on playing this game yourself please do not read it, as I would hate to be held responsible for ruining what could be a memorable zombie caper for you. So, SPOILERS AHEAD.
When we finished up Episode 4 things were looking pretty dire. Kenny was having a meltdown, Lee had been bitten and Clementine was missing. We left off with Lee trying to track Clementine down in Doctor V’s former lair, only to find that a mysterious stranger was behind the kidnapping.
Limbless in Savannah
So we’re in the hospital sewer, chatting to the madman on the walkie. He’s basically telling Lee that he’s an awful human being, and that this wasn’t a kidnapping, but a RESCUE. Seriously, why is everyone always trying to rescue Clementine from Lee? People obviously get very judgmental during zombie apocalypses. We’ve deduced by now that it isn’t Doctor V and his merry men, but any clue as to the identity of this douchenugget is not forthcoming, so we have to get back to focusing on more immediate matters.
Walkers are banging down the door and it is up to Lee to find an escape route. After Kenny told us that Lee is the smartest man in the known universe we take a look around. Finding closed double-doors of an elevator Lee manages to pry it open with a wicked looking rib separator (how industrious) that he’d found among some other surgical paraphernalia. The exertion proves to be too much for Lee, and he passes out.
From beyond the blacked out screen we hear the voices of the rest of the group as they move him. When Lee eventually, hesitantly comes to, we find them all looming over and about to saw off Lee’s arm. WUT. “I’m awake!” Lee yells, as you would too if you were to regain consciousness just before someone was about to lob off your limb. The group hurriedly explains their logic behind it, and for once, I actually agree with the consensus. If there’s a chance this could help Lee, or even slow down the onset of the infection that will render him useless in his search for Clementine, then we have to do it. Kenny, who had initially been the one holding the saw, realised he was unable to go through with it when Lee was awake, and Christa steps up to finish the job. What followed was this:
Bloody hell Telltale Games, you’re killing me with your discrimination against individuals with a full complement of limbs. Unlike me, Lee takes it like a champ, because he is awesome, though he screams blue murder so loudly I’m surprised it doesn’t bring all of the walkers in Savannah down on top of them. When Lee is recovered enough to move again, in a darkly comedic twist he’s faced with the task of climbing up a shaft of countless flights until they reach the roof of the hospital.
The roof is quite the chaotic scene, but proves to be a good vantage point. After getting the formalities of addressing how horrible it is that Lee only has one arm out of the way (“I prefer the other one, anyway.”) they all agree that their next stop should be back to the “mansion” to check in and ensure there was nothing they missed. But in order to do that they have to navigate around a gigantic horde that are ambling their way all over the streets below.
Even though it’s breaking my heart a little every time I look at Lee (his strength and determination despite his situation doesn’t help), we have to figure out a way down safely. At this stage I’m noticing some slight shifts in the group dynamic, with Kenny getting all buddy-buddy with my Lee, calling him “pal” incessantly and in general getting on my wick. You want to be friends now, Ken? Just because I only have ONE ARM and I’m ABOUT TO DIE!? Typical.
But nevermind about him. There’s an extendable ladder on the roof and it becomes clear quickly what it is we have to do. Next to the hospital is a bell tower. Lee elects himself to cross over on the ladder to the building next door, ring the bell that will attract the walkers and then everyone would be able to slide down the hospital’s fire escape and scarper through a thinned crowd of hungry undead. Omidget points out that they’re sending a one-armed man on the perilous mission, but Lee counters with some cool, simple, logic; he’s got less to lose than anyone else. I feel sad inside.
Naturally, Lee overcomes all of the odds and climbs over to the bell tower. Unfortunately, the rickety old ladder collapsed and fell to the ground, many storeys below, leaving Lee effectively trapped. Worry not though, because Lee is a total dude, and after ringing the bells and drawing the starving wrath of the walkers he manages to jump, one-armed, back over to the lower roof of the hospital, take control of the sitch and get everyone the hell out of dodge.
The Boat, The Bust & The Bromance
Arriving back at our base of operations, we quickly note that not everything is the way we left it. We can hear Ben’s familiar whine from inside the shed, which has been secured with a shovel pushed through the door handles. Lee removes it, freeing Ben, who explains how Doctor V & Crew returned and took the boat.
Gone were my hopes for Ben’s redemption in Episode 5. You gormless child, I think, I should have let you kill yourself when you asked. Unsurprisingly, the proverbial poop hits the fan as Kenny completely blows a head gasket at the kid, and you know, I’ve said it before, I can’t really blame him for his anger. Christa asks Omidget to hop the fence and let everyone in so they can continue the verbal abuse of Ben in privacy, and while everyone is distracted she probes Lee for some answers. Christa has a notion to head off to the country, because, you know, there’s no walkers in the country, just like there are no cats in America. To be fair I don’t think it’s the worst idea ever, and now that the boat is gone I’d be pretty happy to abandon the “let’s all go on a cruise” plan. With that decided, we join the others in the garden, where the fireworks are really beginning to fly.
Kenny lays into Ben; calling him all of the names I’ve been calling him myself through the magical portal of my monitor. I make Lee attempt to intervene, because Ben is getting lippy, but Christa stops him, suggesting we let them duke it out without interference. I think, okay, I’ll let Kenny murder Ben, because I was sure that’s what was going to happen. It didn’t. Instead, Ben gave a self-entitled speech about how he never even got to see his family, that he doesn’t know if they’re alive or dead, that at least Kenny had his family to lose. I concede that he has a point, but I still don’t understand how that’s any worse than what Kenny dealt with. Kenny’s son was infected and his wife killed herself over it, leaving him alone, with nobody but Lee, who he hates, to turn to. Not that it matters what I think, because Kenny totally deflates and backs down, just in time for the walkers to follow the LOUD NOISES of Ben’s shouting tantrum and descend upon us.
We rush inside and attempt to protect ourselves. It proves futile as before long they break through our hasty defenses. Another fun sequence unfolds as Lee chops off a few hands and fingers and even gets to cleave zomBrie (hat-tip to Oracle of Film for pointing out that delicious pun to me). Everyone legs it upstairs to quickly establish a blockade of sorts and prepare to defend themselves to their last breaths.
With a very limited number of bullets left and the walkers coming thick and fast, there’s only so long we can hold out for. The choice of corridor was fortuitous though, as directly above their heads is the attic where we’d found the Duck clone mini-muncher in Episode 4. Up everyone goes and we find ourselves once again trapped in an enclosed space with the walker army beneath us. Almost immediately after they reach safety Clementine manages to radio Lee and imparts a clue as to her whereabouts before she’s cut off. Lee deduces she’s being held captive in a nearby hotel, one she’d mentioned previously as being a favourite of her parents’ when they traveled to Savannah.
Then Omidget goes to talk to a weird old man bust, Ben goes to rock back and forth in a corner and Kenny chooses this time to address the armless elephant in the room.
Don’t get me wrong, I still hate Kenny, but I can appreciate his point. To a degree. This game has taught me many things, one of which being that there is a time and a place to discuss certain issues, and those times generally shouldn’t include in the middle of a crisis scene when you could die at any moment. Kenny though, he was intent on pointing out that something needs to be done about Lee, because he’s been bitten and could turn at any moment. Lee and I, we’d be more inclined to want to talk about possible escape, but Kenny is having none of it. Lee, who is still standing and isn’t going to turn right then at that second, has enough of Kenny’s agitated mouthing, comments on getting his mush mashed in like Larry and invites him to just come on and kill him. Then he hulks out, grabs the aforementioned bust and flings it at the wall, the force of the throw breaking through the wood paneling. And now, it all makes sense.
Lee grabs a standing coat rack and starts bashing, each thrust revealing more of what could be on the other side. Kenny examines it, declares the wood rotten, announces that it could be their way out and organises working shifts.
Lee is told to get some rest and proceeds to have a candid heart-to-heart with Christa and Omid. Now would be a good time to point out that everyone keeps asking how Lee is. I understand why, but their optimism is starting to get to me. Does Lee think chopping his arm off might have worked? Doubtful. These conversations, I’m sure, are designed to give the player (me) a bit of hope. I have none, I don’t want any, I’ve reconciled myself to Lee’s end. I don’t want to think that oh, maybe his pallor is worsening because of the blood loss, or oh, maybe they got to the infected arm in time after all, and Lee will be okay. Stop messing with me, wicked game.
Lee and I appear to be on the same realistic page, and he tells the pair that he wants them to look after Clementine. It’s the obvious choice for me. It’s not that I think Kenny would intentionally let her get hurt, it’s just that he’s way too unstable to be an effective caregiver. Christa and Omidget are a good team, despite all of the things I’ve said about them, they work well together and compliment each other. Not to mention the fact that they’re expecting themselves, they understand the importance of keeping children safe. They seem to be onboard and ask Lee pointedly what to do about Ben.
I have Lee give the noncommittal response of “let him be”. When pressed, he explains that Ben can basically cop on and survive, or die, which was pretty much my opinion back in Episode 4 when I was playing God and trying to decide whether or not to let him live. Then we touch on Kenny’s issues, but before I can get to the juicy part Kenny joins our circle of trust and Omidget takes over bashing the wall.
What happened then caught me by surprise. Kenny tells Christa that a girl called Lilly came between himself and Lee, that Kenny had been pretty awful to him. I don’t really know what’s going on here or why the game suddenly wants Kenny to have some redemption, or heck, maybe the character just feels guilty for being a Class A Ass this hole time, so I shrug in real life, and have Lee comment that it’s water under the bridge. And in a way he’s right, it is, because now Lee has something more important to worry about than Kenny’s previous petulance and general douchebaggery. They all share a drink, even Christa, who is preggo.
Omidget strikes gold and the group climb through the hole that leads into the house next door. In the master bedroom we find a couple on the bed, holding hands, having shot themselves some time ago. This sparks animated discussion. Kenny doesn’t agree with it; says it’s taking the cowardly way out, like his wife Katjaa did. They should have at least given themselves a chance according to him. Omidget comments on how much pain they saved themselves. I can’t weigh in, I don’t agree or disagree with either of them. I’m ambiguous to this scene. There’s a first!
I believe I can die
Lee opens a glass door to the master bedroom balcony, which has a charming view of… another building. It’s reachable though, and every member of the party climbs on top of the iron railing and jumps to the roof next door, one by one. Lee – Safe. Christa and Omidget – Safe. Kenny – Safe. Ben – falls.
Oh, Ben. I’m fighting feeling desperately sorry for you because you’re really not all that bright, while simultaneously fighting back a wave of mirth that is threatening to explode from me.
Kenny chases after him. Lee tells Omidget and Christa to stay on the roof and not to participate in this fool’s errand, and then follows Kenny. They find Ben, who is still alive but trapped underneath some debris. He’s shouting that he’s okay, and I shush him. STFU Ben. Great, you’re okay, but if you keep shouting the dangerously close walkers will hear you and then none of us will be okay.
Kenny gets closer to move whatever it is that Ben is trapped underneath only to reveal something much, much worse.
Part of the railing that became dislodged when Ben fell has now lodged itself into Ben’s gut. At first he doesn’t notice, but when Kenny tries to move him he starts to wail, alerting the entire zombie ‘hood to our whereabouts. Lovely. I tell Kenny to get a move on and get out, but he doesn’t listen to me. Instead he pushes Lee into a small alleyway between two houses and closes the gate. He tells Lee he has to stay, that he, Kenny, has to help, this is the way it’s gotta be.
I don’t really understand this and Lee calls out for Ken, but it’s futile. Kenny, who was set on redemption, or some sort of selfless final act to atone for all of the selfish ones that came before it, effectively killed himself. Kenny is carried away by the surge of now very stimulated walkers. Off-screen we hear just one shot. One bullet was all Kenny had left in his gun. I don’t know if he shot himself, or if he shot Ben to save him the torture of being eaten alive, leaving that fate to himself. Either way, Kenny is dead.
And then there were three
Lee heads back on up to Christa and Omidget, who are quick to reassure Lee that it wasn’t his fault. After a brief conversation Christa makes a comment that resonated with me. To paraphrase, it was something along the lines of, “you don’t have to forgive someone their sins just because they’re dead”. The game’s way of telling me that it’s okay to continue to dislike Kenny even though he’s dead, because he was an arse when he was alive? Perhaps.
Onward we go, strolling on the roofs until we get to The Marsh Hotel, where Clementine is being kept and which is across the road. The problem here is that the streets below are literally teeming with walkers, so the troops decide the best way over is to climb across an unsafe looking sign. Naturally Lee offers to go first, because Omidget and Christa have to stay safe “for Clementine”.
And naturally the sign gives out, leaving Lee stranded on the other side with no choice but to jump. Christa is aghast but Lee is all glib macho-man with his response. “What’s the worst that could happen? I get bitten?” He tells them to meet him back at the train, that he’s going in, he’s getting Clementine. Then he allows himself to fall to the ground and then the most enjoyable scene I’ve played thus far in this game unfolds.
There our hero stands, one-armed, alone and facing the biggest mob yet. Armed with nothing but a knife he lets loose on the crowd in a shower of blood and guts and glory as he slices, hacks and chops to clear a path to the hotel. I just about barely restrained myself from shouting THIS IS SPARTA! at the screen as this one man army laid waste to all who would oppose him. I grabbed some awesome action shots (or at least I thought I had) but at that point Fraps went funny on me and I lost the majority of them. I was left with one epic screenie.
At this stage I’m so immersed in this game and in this particularly gruesome sequence that it takes me a moment to readjust when we find ourselves outside of the hotel, and another moment to recognise just what it is I’m looking at. But when I do, I let out a sigh of gigantic magnitude.
I’m sorry to do this but, OMGWTF, I ****ing called it! When everyone with half a brain said they’d take those supplies from that car back in Episode 2 and me, with obviously no brain, said I wouldn’t for fear or reprisal, I knew it, I just knew it.
When we stumble across the empty car full of supplies, I opted not to take them. Not because I would be morally against stealing in this situation, but rather I would fear further reprisal from the bandits. We’re in their territory and they’d have no problem tracking the footprints of eight people. Not to mention that if I was among the people who had left that car, and I was still alive and returned to find my munchies gone, I would hunt them down too. It didn’t really matter anyway because nobody listened to Lee and robbed them despite his voiced opinion on the matter. It isn’t the end of the world though.
Well I was wrong about it belonging to the bandits, but here we are, outside the hotel, and there’s a car that looks exactly like the one we’d pilfered from after we’d escaped the Cannibal Creepers’ clutches. I would find out pretty quickly that my choices there would have no eventual baring on the procedures following this revelation, so in the grand scheme of things it wouldn’t at all matter what I’d done back then, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Lee and I venture inside the hotel, skulking down corridors until we hear a series of noises that would give away the location of Clementine. We find the room and sneak inside. A quick glance tells us that someone (probably Clem herself) has been locked behind another door. Before we get the chance to release her though, a freaky looking dude points a gun at Lee and the jig is up. He tells Lee to empty his pockets on the table. Unwilling to give up any weapons we plonk the walkie down and declare that it’s the only thing we have on us. A risky maneuver that could have easily backfired, but the Stranger’s reluctance to touch Lee plays in our favour.
People are strange when you’re a Stranger
Then we sit down for a cosy little chat.
Yeah, we know who you are. This total nutbar has been the one speaking to Clementine through her walkie-talkie. The one to lure her out with promises of reuniting her with her family. He believes that he’s saving Clementine from Lee, that he can give her what she needs, despite his inability to look after his own late family. He asks Lee if he’s ever done anything to hurt somebody. Of course Lee has, who hasn’t, but then we get to hear the entirety of Lee’s back story, and what really happened with his wife.
They’d been growing apart. She traveled a lot for work and he wanted to start a family. One day on his way to teach a class he began to feel unwell, and so returned home, only to find her in bed with another man. So he murdered him. Later, he stated, he realised just how much he had hurt his wife, and how much he regretted that. Our suspicions that Lee has a darker side are reaffirmed, and even though I’m sure that’s what most spouses would want to do if they found their partner doing the no pants dance with someone else, most people don’t follow through. But we can forgive Lee. Because now he has the chance to atone for his past sins and save the life of a little girl.
The Stranger bites back with a tale of his own. He’d lost his son after taking him on a hunting trip that his wife was directly opposed to. Then they’d had their car with all of their supplies raided. Having lost all faith in him, the Stranger’s wife took their daughter and ran from him. Not long afterward he found them, and they unsurprisingly were not in the same state as they had been before.
Then he calls Lee a thief and a murderer and tells him he has to kill him. And all the while he’s talking to a HEAD IN A BOWLING BAG. The head of his undead walker wife. We can take care of Clementine, he says, as he addresses the disembodied melon on the floor. It appears though, that Clementine can take care of herself.
While the madman is spilling his guts, Clementine manages to free herself. Following Lee’s darting gaze when the Stranger’s attention was busy on his “wife”, she grabs a bottle, sneaks up behind him and breaks it on his head. Taking this opportunity Lee lunges with his knife and grapples with the Stranger. Now, I don’t know if I struggled with this part because I’m supposed to, because Lee is weak from infection and blood loss, or because I’m a dope and I missed something, but the sequence seemed to go on forever. No amount of button mashing would allow me to get the upper hand. The gun slides along the floor and off to the side, but before Lee can reach it, the Stranger is on top of him and it looks like this is it. The End. Then… BANG.
Clementine bags another kill and saves Lee’s life. In the quiet aftermath Lee ensures Clementine is unharmed, and in that charming way that children have she asks where Lee’s arm has gone. He tells her it was an accident he’ll explain later, and that they have to get going ASAP. On their way to the door a walker bursts in, and in another heart in my mouth moment I prepare with my fingers over the keyboard, ready to work to fend it off. Nothing happens. The walker sniffs around and ignores Lee, confirming my worst fears. When he lunges for Clementine we drop him, and she presents another reason for the walker’s mysterious behaviour.
She says it’s because Lee has all that “stuff” on him. He’s covered in walker bits from the bloodbath outside the hotel, and according to her, that’s why it didn’t gobble him up. Having a bit of a lightbulb Eureka episode, Lee then begins to cover Clementine in walker juice too, so they can bypass the horde outside safely. Much to her disgust, of course.
Looking spiffy and whiffing of eau de undead, the pair return to the streets, where their plan of blending in works effectively, until Clementine catches a glimpse of her mangled, shuffling parents and Lee finally succumbs and passes out.
“Take Us Back”
When we awake we find that Clementine has somehow managed to drag Lee to safety, despite being deeply upset that the long awaited reunion with her mother did not go at all according to plan. We’re in an abandoned store, with a shutter locked between them and the horde outside. Instead of being pleased with Clem’s ingenuity though, Lee is furious. We know it’s because he now believes he is dangerous to Clementine, and cannot be in a locked room with her. Despite their efforts, they cannot escape, the shutter is locked tight and Lee no longer has the strength to stand.
Spotting another possible route out of the shop, one that happens to be blocked by a walker who is trapped in a chair (they’re so SMRT) Clementine helps Lee to amble onward, but he soon collapses against a wall, unable to get up again. He’s fading fast, but he musters something from his strength reserves in order to talk Clementine through what she has to do. He directs her to a bat behind the shop’s counter and tells her to smash the glass of the exit door in order to unlock it. As soon as she opens the door we spy a pair of handcuffs on the floor, and Lee tells her to grab them. And to cuff him to the radiator.
I regret this decision almost immediately, because they’d probably be put to better use securing the trapped walker. I’m afraid though that this game will psych me one more time and the thought of Lee turning in front of Clementine and lunging for her is just too much. Lee is going to die. Whether from the zombie bite or the blood loss, either way he’s going to turn. So she reluctantly cuffs him, and Lee breaks the news. Clementine’s reaction is heartbreaking. She’s already been through so much. She lost her parents and now she’s going to lose Lee. She’s all alone. Her teary pleas and demands that Lee cannot do this to her make me feel misty and angry all at once, but as usual, the order of the day in this game is survival first, grief later.
The keys to the back door are clipped to the trapped walker’s belt along with a holstered gun. Lee directs Clementine to reach for them, but the gun first. Always the gun, Clem. And when she does, the game continues in its emotional bombardment of me as the walker frees itself and tackles Clementine to the floor.
I’m cursing my earlier decision to make her cuff Lee to the radiator because now I’m useless as the walker crawls after Clem, intent upon feasting on her. Stretching out with Lee’s leg, he kicks the baseball bat to her and in a move that extracts a heavy sigh of relief from yours truly, Clementine rights herself and bashes the walker’s head in repeatedly like it was a melted chocolate Easter egg.
But it isn’t over, because now we have to say goodbye.
Clementine wants to take Lee with her, that it could all be okay, they can get out together. But Lee is dying, he knows this, I know this, it’s only a matter of time and Clem needs to get out alive to safety, because otherwise Lee’s sacrifice would have all been for naught. He imparts upon her a few nuggets of wisdom. She must stay out of cities. She must find Christa and Omid, who will look out for her. He tells her that he will miss her and she is not to be afraid. She knows what she has to do.
Clementine balks at the idea. And I’m faced with my final decision. I can tell Clementine to run, to leave Lee where he is, chained to the radiator, alone, waiting to turn into a monster. Or I can tell Clementine to shoot him and end it all. A huge part of me wants to save her the pain. She’s already been through so much, and having her shoot her beloved protector seems to be a needlessly cruel thing to make the child do. Yet, things won’t get better for Clementine. As she continues on she will have to face up to the harsh reality of her situation.
An even bigger part of me feels that allowing my Lee become The Walking Dead is just abhorrent. I’ve spent many long hours with him on this adventure and it just isn’t a fitting end for our hero. So after mulling this over I decide that it has to be done, and it is right that Clementine be the one to do it. In an interesting contrast, the last hour or so has seen the little girl once protected become the protector. She’s strong, and she says she can do it.
The shot is fired and the credits roll. I sit there and watch them scroll by as a beautifully sad song plays and I curse you Telltale Games, I curse you for making me feel feelings. I’m still sitting there, slumped over and dejected when the credits stop and an image of Clementine makes me refocus my eyes. She’s in a field, crying alone, when suddenly, off in the distance she sees two figures. The game leaves us with the question as to the strangers’ identities. Are they Christa and Omidget? Or are they other, less wholesome individuals? We don’t know. I hope we get to find out in Season 2.
And there we have it, my Walking Dead experience has come to an end. For now. It has been an extremely enjoyable game to play, and one of my favourite games of 2012. I applaud Telltale Games’ efforts and I look forward to their next Walking Dead installments, along with trying out their latest offering of The Wolf Among Us. Thanks to everyone that joined me on this adventure, I’ve loved having you all along for the ride.
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 1 – A New Day (verbalspew.wordpress.com
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 2 – Starved For Help (verbalspew.wordpress.com)
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead (verbalspew.wordpress.com)
- [GAME] My Walking Dead Experience Episode 4 – Around Every Corner (verbalspew.wordpress.com)