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The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 2: Give No Shelter (PC) artwork

Iíve been trying to figure out why The Walking Dead: Michonne is struggling to make much of an impression. I donít really know, I guess it could be a number of things. Maybe itís down to the enforced brevity the spin-off has decided to foster, offering half the chapters a full season has boasted, with shorter episode running times besides. Maybe the burden of assumed knowledge is too heavy. Every other game has starred (mostly) unique characters, telling you only what it felt you needed to know about them as the titleís progressed. Michonne has no such freedom; sheís a large part of both the comic and the T.V. series, and youíre expected to know this. The setting of the mini-series coincides with her disappearance during a few issues of the comics, exploring why she left and ultimately why she came back. Itís a lot of existing knowledge to expect of your audience, but maybe thatís not it either. Thereís a sense of foreboding danger and impending loss that the other games were saturated in that simply does not exist here. Michonneís a survivor, a pre-established badarse roaming the zombie-filled wastelands fearlessly. The shambling army of the undead never feel that much of a threat to her. She can die, sure, but thatís your fault for failing a QTE. Itís not supposed to happen because such simple danger is irrelevant to her. Thereís a clear disconnect present thatís not been there before. Youíre not overcoming obstacles; youíre poking keys to advance the inevitable.

The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 2: Give No Shelter (PC) image

This could have been spun if you had something to protect, but Michonneís supporting cast are poorly fleshed out and difficult to care about. They fade in out out of proceedings, given only reason to exist when the plot feels it necessary. Thereís no time offered to explore them as characters, so all thatís really presented is an Us vs. Them aesthetic. The Them part of the equation do throw up some brief and shallow examples of existing within a shade of grey, but the main driving force behind them is so ham-fistedly moulded to be an antagonist itís sometimes hard to take him seriously. I half expected to have a conversation with someone that started with ďOh, that Randall! Off drowning kittens again, I wager!Ē Or ďHeís unable to get to sleep each night unless he rubs glass shards in the eyes of orphans, that rogue!Ē

Team Us donít fare a lot better. Theyíre simply not given the time to be established as anything stronger than a brief list of attributes that youíre supposed to bond with instantly. At one point, such a character offers to give himself up so that the rest of the party might survive and my initial reaction was to shrug and let him do it. Sure, why not? Another character makes the right noises towards becoming something of substance before heís killed off in the most bafflingly moronic way. Itís forcefully injected to advance the plot in such a sloppy way that you can foresee it the second the stupid, stupid chain of events are put into place.

The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 2: Give No Shelter (PC) image

So the entire weight of expectancy falls on the shoulders of Michonne, a protagonist who needs prior knowledge to understand fully, someone with no reason to fear the shambling dead and someone with nothing of worth to protect. Much as the first chapter, the sporadic highlights are the moments when sheís forced to battle her own leaking sanity. Awful moments of quiet lead her fumbling mind back into atrocities of the past she works hard not to relive, but remain an integral part of her, regardless. She sees things that canít be there. She recreates past scenarios long beyond her control. These unwanted bubbles of horrific memory bleed into the real world, torturing Michonne, plaguing her anew with waves of guilt and impotence. It makes her uniquely vulnerable. It shows that the reason sheís so driven in the real world, so obsessed with ways to keep her mind busy. It reminds you that, without these distractions, sheís right back to where you found her at the start of the first chapter. With a gun to her head, wanting it all to just be over.

But these moments are fleeting, even in a game of Give No Shelterís brief running time. Itís a lot to ask of the third and final chapter, to give substance to the previous entries when theyíve offered so little to build upon. So add that to Telltale offering a new server to host game saves on that has the unfortunate side effect of crashing your game every fifteen minutes or so just to put the boot in. The upside is you can turn that off to enjoy a bug free couple of hours. Thereís no such fix to elevate those couple of hours above mediocrity.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (April 07, 2016)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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