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The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Death of Innocence

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Telltale Games The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 3: In Harm’s Way
Price: $24.99
System(s): PC
Release Date: May 13 , 2014
Publisher (Developer): Telltale Games (Telltale Games)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for violence, blood and gore, and strong language

Telltale Games The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 3: In Harm’s Way (Man, this series has the longest titles ever) is now upon us, and I’m just going to get it out of the way now: it is amazing. Easily the highlight of Season 2 for me, especially in light of how underwhelmed I was by Episode 2.

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Goin’ to the hardware store

The writing in The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 3: In Harm’s Way (hereafter referred to as “Episode 3″, because seriously) is amongst the best in the entire series. It marks the first time I didn’t desperately miss Lee Everett. Like always, it’s supremely difficult to write about these games without massive of spoilers, especially when so many things happen, but I’ll do my best not to ruin it for you.

To sum things up a bit, Clementine and her group arrive with Carver at his little internment camp nee hardware store. They quickly begin plotting their escape from the garden center that serves as their ‘work release’ prison cell. They meet some new friends, and it must be said that Reggie has the worst voice actor this side of the original Resident Evil. Anyway, it isn’t long before Carver starts getting up to terrible things. I do mean terrible. Like “forcing a man at gunpoint to beat his own daughter” terrible. Once again, Michael Madsen is just beyond amazing as Carver.

My biggest complaint about Episode 2 was how ridiculous it was that all the adults kept willfully putting Clementine into situations where she was likely to die. Because you know it just made sense to make her dive in and fix the wind turbine or climb the tower. Thankfully, that’s been rectified here. The things that Clementine has to do actually make sense. There are logical, if a bit contrived, reasons for her to be in stupidly dangerous situations. It not only keeps immersion intact, but also adds a much deeper sense of urgency to things. When Clementine is doing something somebody else really should be doing, it’s annoying, but in Episode 3 she is doing things she must do, for the good of the group. There is a real weight to everything; lives truly depend upon her success and decisions. It’s wonderful, and I’m so glad Telltale did a better job in how they handle Clementine as the main character.

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A child broken

The biggest thing I noticed while playing through Episode 3, is how I started approaching decisions. I always try and base my choices on what I truly believe Clementine would say or do, and I noticed that those beliefs have started to shift. It kind of disturbed that, without realizing it, “my” Clementine has started to change, to harden. A while ago, Clementine never would have done some of the things I had her do in Episode 3. Suddenly I find myself thinking “No, Clementine wouldn’t trust Bonnie” and “yeah, she really might choose to stay back with Kenny and Carver.”

It’s amazing how organic this shift felt, and how in tune with the tone of The Walking Dead it is. The death of her innocence is well and truly complete. The little Clementine that Lee Everett saved so long ago is gone now; replaced by a little girl who is harder, colder, and, in a sense, smarter than she should ever have to be. She is unmistakably becoming a complete badass, and it’s heartbreaking to see and be a part of. The choice she, you, are faced with at the end of the episode just cements this fact. There’s no hesitation, just action. It is simultaneously the easiest, and one of the hardest choices of the entire Walking Dead series.

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Walking Tall

The Walking Dead Episode 3: In Harm’s Way returns the series to top form in a big way. Episode 1 and 2 were good, but never felt as good as Season 1 did. There have been some really good moments, but it felt a bit hobbled by Clementine being the main character. No more. Playing as Clementine suddenly feels as emotionally engaging as trying to protect her did, maybe even moreso. I can’t wait to see what lies in wait for Clementine and company in future episodes.

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