The Ninjabot

The Walking Dead Game, “In Harm’s Way” – The True Cost of Survival

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm by Amanda Andonian

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When we left Clementine last, she was trying to find her way with a new group, continuing to grow as an adult along the way. Where episode two, “A House Divided,” focused on trying to acclimate Clementine to her new surroundings, this installment of The Walking Dead asks the question, “What does it really mean to survive?” With “In Harm’s Way,” Clem sees a lot more action, meets even more new people, and somehow becomes everyone’s therapist even though she’s only 11 years old.

Major Spoilers Ahead

At the end of “A House Divided,” the dreaded Carver had caught up to Clem and her new group, forcing them to return to their old camp at an abandoned strip mall. Clem met him briefly on her own in episode two, and even then he seemed like a crazy old coot; but once his ire was up, it became clear that Carver was a psychotic control freak who wanted it his way or the highway. Unfortunately, Kenny has no intention of letting sleeping dogs lie, refusing to meekly follow along with the rest of the group. I constantly wanted to make Clementine tell him to shut up, but I also wanted her to play it cool. The best way out of a bad situation is to keep calm and carry on.

Once the group was thrown into the “yard” to sleep, I was immediately taken out of the game by the addition of Kumail Nanjiani to the voice cast. It’s not that I don’t think he does a good job as Reggie, it’s just that his voice is so familiar to me that I couldn’t see Reggie at all; my mind was entirely focused on the cognitive dissonance of Nanjiani’s presence in the game. It was incredibly distracting, unfortunately, because I genuinely like him as an actor and comedian (he’s especially hilarious on Silicon Valley, FYI). So when Reggie met an untimely end, I was a little relieved (sorry Kumail!) because it allowed me to refocus on what was happening in the game.

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That’s one scary S.O.B.!

As mentioned above, the central theme of “In Harm’s Way” is the cost of survival, what it really means to survive, and what are you willing to sacrifice in order to make it in this world? Will you give up all your freedom? Beat your child, even though you detest laying a hand on her? Will you let someone else die in your place so that you can live? These questions and more are the foundation of Carver’s version of a new world order, and it’s just as frightening and confining as you’d think. With every word and action, Carver makes it clear how much he detests “weakness,” forcing the members of his “family” to turn on each other as a way of maintaining discipline and order. It’s kind of ironic how he expects everyone to follow him without question, yet can’t stand what he views as weak-willed behavior. But that’s psychotic low-lifes for you!

In addition to Carver, we’re also introduced to a slew of new characters, which is at once necessary and jarring. Obviously, the only way Carver could maintain a military-like camp would be if he had a ton of followers, but it’s difficult to introduce so many new characters all at once while also giving them a purpose and a role to play. Several of them won’t be back next episode, but there are still a few new additions who were shoehorned in almost at the last moment, hardly giving us a chance to get to know them before they became an integral part of the group. In fact, one character in particular just seems like he’s there to be the token black guy of the group since our resident black guy doesn’t make it to the end. There’s enough room for more than one black guy, you know!

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This probably won’t end well!

Of course, the break-out star of the episode is Clementine. If you thought that she had to make some tough decisions last time, that doesn’t even compare to the situations she deals with during “In Harm’s Way.” Literally everyone in the group looks to her for salvation, and you can either play her as the tough bad-ass, or an unwilling participant. Either way, she has to endure some gnarly things, and the kind of courage and determination she exhibits is the stuff of legends.

As always, the gameplay takes a backseat to the story, but I think we’re all accustomed to that at this point. The Walking Dead is more about the choices you make and how the consequences of those choices ripple out into the future; it’s not about killing zombies and running through the woods. At the same time, there’s a lot more for the player to do in this go-around, so “In Harm’s Way” is much more exciting and action-driven than the previous two episodes. Judging by where it leaves off, shit’s about to get incredibly real in episode four. I, for one, cannot wait to see where Clementine ends up next.

Presentation: 9.5

Gameplay: 8.5

Replay: 6.5

Legacy Score: 8.2

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

This review is based on a PS3 download version of The Walking Dead: “In Harm’s Way.”

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

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