The title to this post comes from a Steam conversation I was having with a friend right after a major event in this episode of The Walking Dead. This series has done wonders in draining me emotionally, and this episode arguably hits the hardest yet. It’s something I’m not used to feeling in games, but I’m incredibly impressed how they continue to make me feel this way each month.
Episode Three: The Long Road Ahead is a much more personal entry in the series. The previous episode featured conflict primarily coming from external characters, whereas this story hits closer to home with almost all of the conflict coming from within the group. It’s becoming more difficult for the survivors to get along, as supplies dwindle, and an uneasy paranoia sweeps over a few members. This leads to spats and confrontation between characters I’ve grown connected to, which can make decisions much harder to make. I found myself utilizing the “…” or ‘silence’ response in dialogue for the first time in the series, since there were times where I just didn’t know what to say. The situations become incredibly dark, and by virtue of that I don’t always know how to react. This episode escalates the idea of there not being any “good” choices, just slightly less worse ones.
There’s some really great character growth this episode. It feels very earned, which I think is assisted by the delivery method of the series. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of Telltale games, that by spreading the release out over a few months, the story stays with you longer. I often hear my fellow gamer’s claiming that they’re waiting for all episodes to release before beginning. While I think that method works for certain television shows, I feel that Telltale seasons are best experienced with a buffer period in between. Once I complete a story driven game, I’m not actively thinking about it as much as I do with these episodes. To a point, the absence benefits my appreciation of the story, because I’m invested for a much longer period of time. It’s a slippery slope if you’re not keeping up with the series, but The Walking Dead provides you very little reason not to come back.
There seems to be a sporadic save issue going around, which has hit me as well as a friend of mine. My issue stems from the game re-writing a file called “prefs.prop” which seems to be crucial in the game reading your saves correctly. This happened to my friend between the first and second episode, so I’ve been backing up my entire save folder each time. I noticed the issue happening to me before beginning this episode, and was luckily able to use my backup to get my progress back. Launching into a game like this to see your save missing is fairly terrifying. My friend now faces issues relating to having multiple save profiles (as he was allowing someone else to play through on their own) that lead to black screens, and lost data. He wasn’t able to recover his save and is now waiting to play until the complete season is out. I encourage anyone playing through to backup their entire save folder between episodes to hopefully avoid this issue. This of course is a PC solution, but I’m sure similar solutions could occur through the use of USB thumb-drives. It can’t hurt to be prepared.
Episode Three is a fantastically bleak entry into the already dark series. It’s crushing in all the right ways, and does a few things that I’ve not ever seen a game do before. Telltale continues to nail the tone of the Walking Dead series, and tell genuinely good stories of their own within that universe. We’re now past the halfway point, and it’ll be exciting to see how the series will conclude. I’m sure it’ll continue to make me feel emotionally drained, and incredibly excited.