Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
Available on: Mobile, PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Xbox 360. There may be differences between versions.
To be blunt, Telltale’s series often suffer on their fourth episode. Both The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us had fourth episodes that were easily weaker than any of the other in the series. Thankfully The Walking Dead Season 2 manages to avoid this and have a fourth episode that is not only good, but actually stronger than past episodes.
Amid The Ruins picks up right where In Harm’s Way left off, with the characters trying to escape Carver’s compound by sneaking through a large hoard of zombies. With plans to meet up at a Civil War monument, the group has to deal with several problems. The most pressing of which is Rebbecca going into labor. This tasks Clementine and her friends with finding a suitable place to stay and supplies for the upcoming child. Each character will have a role to play in this episode, and finally we see (mostly) the elimination of background do nothing characters. Mike and Bonnie have a humors scene of trying to catch a raccoon. Jane constantly gives Clementine tips on how to survive on her own, and tries to push her to survive without the help of others. Kenny goes through some tough character development and self hate, realizing that his irrational behavior may not be the best. My one exception to this comes from Nick. You see, Nick can die in episode 2, but I saved him. Only he has spent Episode 3 and 4 doing absolutely nothing of note. This is to the point where he didn’t even have a speaking line in episode 4. If I’m going to save these characters then I want them to keep being characters. This feels like a waste of time.
Still, you’ll be making the important and difficult decisions again. Sarah clearly has issues and has shut down during this attack. Do you continue to force her to continue, or let her stay behind and finally end her suffering? Is it worth checking the lake house, or should you go to the history museum instead? I noticed that Amid the Ruins really liked to lean towards that selflessness is a great way to hurt yourself. It’s a bit weird but the game really tries to push Clementine towards being a independent survivalist. In the end I was a little off put by it, but it wasn’t the worst thing to happen. By the end of the episode I felt Clementine has changed in an important way and that nothing that we’ll be seeing after this will be the same.
Amid the Ruins opens up right into an action scene. Like the others there’s no difference into how it goes. It’s all quick time events and selecting certain objects in a time limit. None of it is broken this time around, which is something I’m alright with. Later on you’ll have to do things like knock zombies off of a balcony, then later drop the whole balcony to stop them. If you liked or did not like the action up until now, this won’t change your opinion. Nothing wrong with that.
Amid the Ruins is a strong episode with a story that carries it much farther than any past episode of The Walking Dead Season 2. Easily the best thing that Telltale has done in a long while, and leaving me extremely excited for where the fifth episode will be going.