The Walking Dead: Episode 5 - No Time Left Review
The Walking Dead: Episode 5 is subtitled No Time Left, a reference to characters and events in the games as well as to the fact that it's the last episode in the series. As such, we need to look at it from a few different angles. How does the episode stand on its own compared to the others in the series? How well does the episode bring the series to a conclusion? And, taking all five episodes into account, how does The Walking Dead rate overall? And don't worry; I'll do my best to avoid spoilers as I look at the answers to these questions.
As a standalone episode, No Time Left left me with mixed feelings. It's by far the shortest of the episodes so far, and I was left a little disappointed by that. I suppose that I expected the final episode to be as long, if not longer, than the other episodes. Given that it had taken some of the plotlines a while to wind their way through the last couple of episodes, a quick wrap-up in Episode 5 left me wondering why it took the survivors so long to get there in the first place. Puzzle difficulty/challenge hasn't been a strong suit for the series overall, but even so things are even easier in Episode 5. Interactive items have been honed down to the point where there's not much interactivity beyond the one item needed to complete a task and the task itself. In Episode 5, challenge comes in the form of shortened action timers that make you select conversation options and real-time event choices in less time than in other episodes.
Episode 5 plays out as you probably expected it to after the events which occurred at the end of Episode 4, and I think that Episode 5 would have been a stronger episode if those Episode 4 ending events had actually opened Episode 5. As it stands, the episode with the most emotional impacts and punches to the gut was Episode 3 and that role should have been filled by 5.
Some of the choices that you made do indeed affect the events in Episode 5, but for the most part it feels like the ending for each character was inevitable and that your choices just affected the exact timing and means of those fates. One scene in Episode 5 probably pushes things a little too hard, though, and the recap of your litany of sins through the prior episodes seems more of a means to highlight the fact that the game was tracking your choices than anything else.
Perhaps Episode 5 was so short because the downloaded code was packed with alternate endings and last words for each doomed character rather than with gameplay content. This is all understandable given the limitations of technology, and as long as you take the approach that you're in control of how the story plays out more than you are in charge of everyone's destiny you'll be fine with it.
I was left feeling that Episode 5 didn't quite live up to my expectations, but that disappointment was not enough to sour me on the whole The Walking Dead experience. I highly recommend the series to gamers, because in spite of its flaws it carries a narrative impact that few games can match. It will be one of those games that you remember playing for some time to come.
Reviews for prior episodes:
Final Rating: 82%. Episode 5 isn't the strongest in the series, but taken together the five episodes make for a unique and engrossing game.