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The Walking Dead: Season 2.5 - No Going Back (PlayStation 3) artwork

The Walking Dead: Season 2.5 - No Going Back (PlayStation 3) review


"See you in Season 3."


Well, we've made it. Some of us, anyway. We've reached the season's climax, and it has quite a legacy to live up to after the memorable ending to the first season of The Walking Dead.

This review is for the final episode of a five-part series, and contains spoilers for the previous four episodes and the previous season. If you need to catch up, there are reviews for episodes one, two, three, and four that may suit your needs better.

In my previous review, I remarked that Clementine's group seemed to have no clear goal, and after completing Episode 5, it seems that that may have been the point. While Season 1 was about an ever-changing group of characters and how they deal with the spiffy new zombie apocalypse, Season 2 is about a group that has become somewhat used to the new world, but still can't agree on what to do about it. They bicker among themselves, Kenny continues his downward spiral, Jane calls her own loner nature into question, and Clementine is caught in the middle.

Predictably, this episode opens with the shootout with Arvo and his Russian comrades that started in the final seconds of the previous episode. It's an exciting scene, marred a little by the lamest choice in the series' history. (Do you save the baby or just leave it there in the middle of a gun fight? Come on.) The immediate outcome may seem less important than you would expect, but events from that skirmish will snowball and lead to some major events.

The climax of the battle was an annoying moment for me and highlights a problem that I've encountered a few times during this season that I never really had in Season 1. Kenny grabs a hostage, and your only dialogue choices, besides silence, are to question or chastise him. Personally, I felt like he was doing the correct thing. Later in the episode, you may or may not get a lot of lip from a particular character (depending on your decisions earlier) and you have no opportunity to stand up for yourself. The point of contention is a decision I made earlier that didn't solve the problem the group was facing, but I felt strongly about it and wanted to defend myself and stand by it. I still believe I did the right thing, and if faced with that (somewhat realistic) situation in real life, I'd do the exact same thing, but I had no opportunity to make my case, and it feels like a loose end to me now.

The rest of the episode takes place in the wintery north shown at the end of Episode 4 and it's a perfect setting. It's strangely peaceful and beautiful a lot of the time, but the cold is oppressive and potentially deadly. It lends itself to the message that standing still is not an option now. The survivors have to do something. They have to move, or they'll freeze.

There's a pleasant scene where the cast gathers around a campfire and, to some small extent, celebrates life in a world where death is the new normal. It's a nice scene while it's happening, but really carries a different weight just a little while later. It's a clever use of video game “quiet time” to give you something to think back to after everything goes horribly wrong.

The game's excellent climax will force you to finally choose a side, leading to one of several possible endings. Which ending you get is completely dependent on the final few choices you make. Season 1's ending, while very powerful, was telegraphed at the end of the fourth episode and basically asked you to decide exactly how Lee would die at that exact moment. The various possible outcomes in Season 2 are all very different. So different, in fact, that it will make you wonder how they'll manage to bring them all to the same point at the start of the already-announced third season. There's more to it than who is alive and who is dead and a simple “And then Character X got eaten by a zombie” won't cut it.

Ultimately, Season 2 carries more weight upon reflection than it ever did while it was happening. Later events provide new context for earlier ones. You will struggle with one difficult late-game decision and will very likely second guess yourself after the fact. It continues with major theme from the previous episode, whether or not some people can be saved. All anyone in this world wants is peace, but there's no happy ending this time. At least we get a satisfying conclusion as an audience, if not as characters.

4.5/5

Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (September 03, 2014)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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