Saturday, 30 April 2016 00:00

The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 3 Review

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After playing through episodes 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead: Michonne, I had my expectations set pretty low for the story in episode 3.

I'd seen characters being made to act in completely counter-intuitive (and counter-productive) ways, forced conflict, disregard of a number of the choices I'd made, a rushed pace that left virtually nothing to linger long enough to make a real impression on the player, and one terrible mess of predictability. Needless to say, I was expecting much the same for the final installment. Luckily, it did get a little bit better, but not a whole lot.

Telltale finally decided to put a little more time into developing the characters you've met, although it was done within the confines of the already strictly timed scenes they'd laid out. There are actually times where even the 'bad guys' act like they have some kind of ideals, this time, rather than behaving like some fantasy-land asshole that somehow gets control over other people just by being an asshole to everyone. The 'good guys' spend a little time bickering over what exactly it is they need to do – with one side being idealistic but pretty obviously stupid. You've got people coming to kill you – I'm pretty sure your ideals can wait until you don't have to worry about them breaking in to shoot you in the face at any given moment.

That, of course, is one of my biggest complaints about the entire 'Michonne' miniseries. Everything is forced, by whatever clumsy means is most convenient, especially by having characters do stupid, stupid things at every turn. In the case of Michonne – they've repeatedly had her do things that make NO logical sense, and if it can't be played off as normal, they make her hallucinate. She hallucinates ALL the time, so they can force her into danger. It would have felt much more natural to use flashbacks instead, and a bit less ridiculous seeing as you're going to make it out alive no matter how you finish the episode anyway.

Worse, I was able to predict more than half of the things that would happen for the ending. I wasn't entirely right, but how much I guessed correctly near the beginning of the episode was very disappointing. Of course, the game seemed dead set on going out of its way to bludgeon those predictable scenarios into the story, so I don't know how I could have not guessed what was going to happen.

There are still a number of weird glitches.

I got random freezes again – instantaneous now, rather than slowing down until it stopped. The game didn't totally crash or stop responding, but stayed frozen for several seconds before deciding to come back to life, just like before. Textures, likewise, continued to freak out for some of the episode – flickering in and out, and even an entire character flickered for a moment. Probably the most bizarre glitch I saw was when a dead character was moving his head as though he was looking at the others around him talking about him being dead. One might think this would be an intentional indication that he was a zombie, but the way he moved did not look like the rest of the zombies in the game, and seconds later he was animated as slowly beginning to move and make noise like a zombie. I think that this was a programming error, playing out some of his animations from the alternate version for if you had not killed him. It was a little surreal. Additionally, there was an issue with some of my button presses not registering for Quick Time Events (QTEs).

QTEs, by the way, are still a big thing. And they're pretty annoying by this point. Nearly everything you do in all three episodes is either a QTE or a timed conversation. I guess having every conversation timed helps keep you from doing something pesky like spending time playing the game and thinking about what you're saying or doing. The more time you have to think about it, the more obvious it becomes that any real person, any sane person, would do things completely differently from what you're forced to do in this game. Maybe that's why the boat in Episode 2 was so fast – so you wouldn't have time to notice other cut corners around you. It certainly wouldn't do them any favors to have their players questioning even more design choices or plot holes all around them.

Don't get me wrong – Telltale definitely did improve Episode 3 over the previous two installments. The fact that not every timed conversation was pushed to be a tense experience lets you notice a little more about the characters to appreciate them. The fact that there were less 'action' sequences meant you got more opportunities to talk to them and get that appreciation. It's a significant improvement.

Unfortunately, it's not enough.

It's still far too nonsensical as a whole, and far too short. The final episode lasted just 57 minutes for me – with me taking a couple breaks, which added to the run time. Between all three episodes of 'Michonne', a full playthrough lasted me a little over 3 hours. This isn't far off from the amount of time you could spend on a single episode of Telltale's The Walking Dead: Season 1. For Season 1, which is an amazing story – one of the best story games you can get – they want $24.99. For that $24.99, you get five episodes, which means you get about five times as much as you get from the 'Michonne' version, which they list for $14.99. In that light...


The Verdict

'Michonne' really isn't worth it. All you wind up getting out of it is a brief interlude of her essentially going crazy, hallucinating constantly about her daughters, trying to kill herself or totally losing track of the fact that she's about to get killed by someone else. I don't know the comics like so many others do, so maybe there are things I don't know about her, but this seems completely out of character for Michonne. She was the badass who always had a steely resolve mixed with the capability and the willingness to kill anyone who was a threat to her. She was smart, fast, and unwavering. Here, she's broken, depressed, and suddenly unable to stop thinking about what happened to her years ago. Maybe I do need to read the comics to understand who she's supposed to be, but they could have at least kept her smart here. Or put a little more thought into the story. Or let me enjoy it. That would have been nice.

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Eli Ross

Eli Ross is an eccentric dude who enjoys entirely too much horror. Photographer, YouTuber, gamer, maker of many random things at random times. He'll be just as likely to mix up an improvised cocktail as he is to tell you that his spoon is too big or that he lives in a giant bucket. He also cares not whether you get his references - he'll only silently judge you if you don't.