The Walking Dead: Episode 5 – No Time Left review for XBLA, PSN, PC

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Also On: PSN, PC
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Yes

It?s sort of weird to think that Episode 5 of Telltale?s The Walking Dead was pretty much my most anticipated release of the year, especially considering that it was dropping around the same time as Nintendo?s new console, and in a year that saw numbered sequels to titles like Halo, and a slew of other great releases. But I cannot think of a single game that has had this sort of grip on me in quite some time, and after the fantastic cliffhanger of Episode 4, I needed to see this storyline resolved ASAP.

Again, as I?ve mentioned in my previous reviews for the past episodes, I?ll avoid spoiler talk here. You really need to go into the series as cold as possible when it comes to detailed information. So I?ll do my best to talk around the important bits, as I try to explain why this is damn near the perfect end to a really stellar run of episodic content from Telltale, and certainly the best thing they?ve ever had their name attached to. Despite how much you might have enjoyed previous releases, like Back to the Future, Monkey Island, and so on, there?s no doubt in my mind that this is, hands down, the best Telltale adventure to date. And the final episode just cements that for me.

The last episode saw our group in dire straits, with the ragtag bunch of survivors, a few people short at this point, faced with certain doom on a number of angles. The relationship between Lee and Clementine, as a surrogate father figure and daughter, has essentially been pushed to the brink. That situation is definitely resolved with Episode 5, thankfully, but the way it?s resolved is bound to evoke a whole lot of emotion from you. It?s rare that a game can affect me the same way film does emotionally, which is sort of shame considering how much I love gaming, but Episode 5 of The Walking Dead doesn?t drop the ball here. It?s an emotional end to a series that has forced me to make a lot of hard choices, certain ones that I do wish I could do over (and of course could through a second playthrough), and I love the bit in this episode that throws a number of decisions in my face.

This is a short episode, but the time spent is well utilized. It?s light on action bits, but there?s a sequence here that?s almost cathartic for players, allowing you to sort of abandon reason and throw caution to the wind in a way that the series hasn?t allowed you to do before. It?s a great lead-in to the final conflict of the game, which is handled almost exclusively through dialogue, and really challenges the player to look back at how they?ve handled events in the game, and sort of forces you to come to grips with those decisions. It?s an interesting way of making you come to terms with the decisions made up to this point, and is far more effective than just capping the game off with a final boss or something silly, which I?m sure most folks assumed this game wasn?t going to do.

But past that last conflict, there?s a very touching, heart wrenching finale that I would be an absolute jerk to ruin for you here. But as I mentioned earlier, I think everyone that?s as invested in the series as I am to this point will find themselves affected in some manner by the end of this episode. And while this certainly caps off the central storyline, there?s enough of a hook at the end of the credits that certainly drives your anticipation for another season up, and will make the wait that much harder to get through.

This is absolutely, without a doubt, one of the best gaming experiences of the year. It?s still just a little too early to toss around GOTY nominations, but there?s no doubt in my mind that The Walking Dead will be on a short list for a number of critics when those considerations start to make their rounds. If you?ve not played any of the series up to this point, I envy your ability to sit down and not have to endure an excruciating wait between episodes. And if you?ve been keeping up with the episodes up to this point, there?s absolutely no reason to stop now.

Grade: A