*Authors Note* Episode 05 of Season 2 of The Walking Dead is available for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC and iOS. For the purpose of this review the PS3 version was played, but please be aware spoilers pertaining to this episode and the finale are contained within this review.
Telltale Games are masters of their craft. With every episode of The Walking Dead this season we’ve been taken on an emotional rollercoaster throughout each episode but they’ve never succeeded more in placing me into a steep tailspin than in this finale – No Going Back.
We’re greeted moments after the previous episode left of, gunfire is sounding out as Clem’s group enters combat with the new group they’ve recently encountered. Having survived the shootout with a few wounded the group treks out following Arvo to a supposed safe-house. Naturally in any environment to star Kenny in it things never run quite as smoothly as they should and his consistent bursts of rage cause tensions to remain high throughout. Keep in consideration the new baby on the scene and a new survival dynamic has been created, with incredibly difficult decisions to now be made.I’ll omit a range of critical details relating to the plot because this is a story, and character development heavy episode, however what is poignant in this episode is that Telltale have clearly taken on feedback from the past influence this concluding episode. In the past, choices have been disguised as significant but ultimately all paths lead to the same destination, but what No Going Back delivers are branching endings that stem from one massive choice, all of which determine where you end up leading into a third season. Being nice, doesn’t always get you far in a zombie apocalypse, and you cannot be friends with everyone yet still make the tough choices and these are lessons that Clementine is finally learning in this episode, with some tough decisions to be made about characters that many of you are likely to have grown to care about anyway. Telltale has taken more time in this episode to explore the various shades of grey in this season versus clearly defined black or white outcomes of the first season and even the majority of season two.
Action scenes are again utilized in this episode but none overstay their welcome with emphasis placed on constantly moving the narrative forward. It isn’t the fastest paced episode that we’ve seen but it is a more decision driven experience that will leave your jaw hanging limp as mine was after the games multitude of massive cliffhangers. There are some truly astounding, soul-crushing moments for players here, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if some choices brought on tears for a number of players.
A warped, distorted and disturbing backdrop has meant that we’re forced to make some truly horrific decisions throughout this episode, involving cast members both new and existing. Nothing is easy for Clementine as her accelerated growth to adulthood is continually tested with those aforementioned decisions along with influences of alcohol and torture to compete with.
A constantly differing setting keeps everything fresh throughout this episode and adds to an already excellent experience, with a wide range of colour used throughout, while a simple, yet powerful soundtrack underpins the entire experience, adding weight to each heavy moment.
No Going Back demonstrates that Telltale have taken yet another step in their storytelling prowess. Whilst simultaneously tugging on every emotional heartstring you have, you’re also forced into some painful corners making increasingly more difficult choices as the 1.5-2hour episode progresses, and when the credits begin to roll and the season has completed you’ll find yourself immediately wanting more. No Going Back is choose your own adventure storytelling at its finest, and Season 3 cannot come quickly enough.