In the world of Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead," flesh-eating zombies aren't the only monsters terrorizing survivors. For the second episode of its five-part game series based on Kirkman's outstanding work, developer Telltale Games focuses on those threats that are very human.
Yes, zombies are almost an afterthought in "Episode 2: Starved for Help," but that doesn't mean this two-hour chapter is lacking for thrills. Indeed, I found "Episode 2" to be even more frightening than the first.
Picking up three months after the conclusion of "Episode 1," "Starved for Help" finds Lee Everett and his group still relatively safe at the motel, but quickly running out of food. After discovering another band of survivors while on a hunting trip -- an encounter that ends with one of the most gruesome scenes the series has offered to date -- "Episode 2" slowly ratchets up the suspense until a reaching a blistering crescendo in the final act.
One of the most intriguing features of "The Walking Dead" game is the dynamic story that develops based on the choices the player makes. Practically every decision you make as Lee is remembered and helps shape his world and how he is viewed by those around him. Seeing this in action as I played through "Episode 2" was really cool, and I can't wait to play through both episodes again and take Lee in a different direction.
Speaking of different directions, by the end of "Starved for Help" I'm fairly certain that my Lee Everett is a changed man. I spent "Episode 1" trying to keep Lee as neutral as possible, going to great lengths to avoid conflict with others in my group as best I could. But "Episode 2" forced me to get off the fence and pick sides, something that left me feeling a little uneasy and unsure of Lee's future.
One of the strengths of this series thus far has been its excellent script and voice work, and that continues in "Episode 2." Lee and his group find themselves in some very difficult positions both physically and emotionally here, and their actions and dialogue reflect that. "The Walking Dead" graphic novels are about character development and personal interaction as much as they are about killing zombies, and it's great to see that tone maintained throughout the game thus far.
As I wrote in my review for "The Walking Dead: Episode 1," my biggest fear for this series was whether Telltale Games could maintain the momentum it established after its excellent debut. "Starved for Help" has put those fears to rest. "The Walking Dead" is shaping up to be one of the year's best games, and I can't wait to see what's in store for Lee, Clementine and the other survivors in "Episode 3."
"The Walking Dead Episode 2: Starved for Help"
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC ($5)
Rating: M for mature