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The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 3: What We Deserve (PC) artwork

The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 3: What We Deserve (PC) review

"Ignoring zombies, and getting battered by insanity instead."

These Telltale games, they just keep getting shorter. Itís almost as if the developer is spreading its teams thinly over multiple projects. Maybe that can be excused in the case of Michonneís very own Walking Dead spin-off that exists outside the main franchise and takes a more experimental approach to telling its story. But the decreased run times canít be completely ignored. What We Deserve, as the finale, has the unenviable job of trying to wrap up and make the two previous lacklustre episodes suddenly relevant. It doesnít help itself much by being a solid half an hour shorter than both of them.

Despite this, the final episode still wastes some time trying to bond me with a cast who, thanks to the brevity with which theyíve been established, I find myself really struggling to care about. An early central dispute is trying to decide if you should stick around and face an upcoming danger, or just make a break for it. The game wants you to then convince members of your rapidly-thinning group to go along with whatever choice you subscribe to. That fact that Paige wanted to leave while everyone else started digging in was supposed to be a moment of panic. In reality, I previously held exactly one conversation with the girl and that short exchange had left so little an impression on me that I had completely forgotten her name.

The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 3: What We Deserve (PC) image

Thatís the problem with the entire cast. Aside from the leading lady, no oneís been established beyond a bullet point of character traits highlighted in neon to try and guide how you feel about them. Randallís an over-the-top arsehat -- he says mean things to the people who destroyed his home and killed his friends, but does he have to be such a jerk about it? To that end, the big decision to make in Episode 2 was to keep him alive as a bargaining chip, or to beat him to death with a wrench. Telltale has made me want to beat people to death with a wrench before. Theyíve not done so here.

And thereís the big problem. The Walking Dead: Michonne asks me to wage war against a group I donít hate to serve as protector to a group I donít care about. Michonne side steps this mainly because sheís preexisting and established, but this just creates further issues. What if you donít hold the knowledge the game assumes you do? Just as bad, what if you do? More than ever before, the final chapter makes it clear that there's a true path you're supposed to take on your way through the choices presented. Deviating from this means making decisions wildly out of Michonneís character, making the choices you are presented with seem more shallow than ever. I mean, weíve all played Telltale stuff before and we know thereís never going to be any hugely relevant alterations to the story based on the snap decisions you have to make. The draw has always been in making these on the fly, based on who youíve decided you want your protagonist to be. But previous protagonists Lee and Clementine didnít have years of back story living in our heads, telling us that Unthinkable Option 2 is just plain wrong.

The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 3: What We Deserve (PC) image

This narrative flaw sadly bleeds into the second half of What We Deserve, where the game stops pretending the other survivors matter and starts exploring the grief and guilt leaking out of Michonneís malfunctioning mind. The fluttering images of her dead children has been ever-present throughout her mini adventure, always getting worse as the stress and danger ramps up or dies too far down. Itís actually kind of brilliant, purposefully muddying whatís real and whatís imagined. The rapid-fire cuts and changes do more than just stick two creepy kids somewhere in the background, like a pair of preadolescent Slendermen with braids. They force you down the rabbit hole along with Michonne, make you question whether the actions you take are affecting the world and the people around her, or remain a vivid personification of her war against insanity.

Itís always been the case with this series; the sporadic high points have always come when Telltale found new ways to showcase Michonneís inability to cope with her loss. While What We Deserve and the episodes that came before it arenít about to serve her redemption, they do offer small pinpricks of hope. And itís the right way to go. When the shit finally hits the fan, Michonne effortlessly shows why zombies arenít a particularly big threat. Shuffling the deck, then, to treat physical threats as a curiosity while threatening to bury her in a mental collapse was easily the smartest thing this game has done.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 02, 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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