Telltale Games has always been teetering on the very edge of mainstream success; since their formation in 2004, the adventure game studio has nailed episodic down, proven that licensed franchises don’t have to be the scum of the gaming world, and have revived a dying genre for the edge of oblivion. Despite amassing a huge number of devoted fans over the past eight years, they have always managed to be respected but never quite up to the standards of “core” gamers. That’s about to change now with the release of The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left, which is not only their best release to date, but will no doubt earn them numerous Game of the Year awards and will become the benchmark for storytelling in games for years to come.
If you haven’t played through the first four episodes, stop reading right now. I’ve skipped all spoilers for the fifth episode, but there will be mentions to previous events throughout this review.
The Walking Dead: Episode 5: No Time Left picks up where the fourth episode ended. Lee has been bitten, Clementine has been kidnapped, and your group of survivors are at their wits end as tensions rise. Savannah wasn’t the safe haven you thought it was going to be, and as the zombie horde is baring down on you, things are a little hectic to say the least.
“I’m not going to lie, I cried during the final moments of The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left. I can honestly say I have never cried from a video game before – that is how powerful Telltale’s writing team is.”
While the last two episodes dragged their heels just a tad, No Time Left picks up at a frightening pace. Lee’s time is certainly limited as he deals with his predicament, trying to sort out his affairs and find Clementine before he turns into a Walker. This means the player is making big decisions at breakneck speed, which is both satisfying and slightly terrifying.
One of these decisions presents itself during the opening scenes of the game, which will leave players cringing as they are forced to make a drastic choice without any warning. Regardless of which option you choose, the result will bring forth a lingering sense of dread as you push through the three to four hours of hell that is awaiting you in this episode.
There is a healthy dose of action during No Time Left, with one of the biggest zombie fights we have seen yet to entertain fans. To put it bluntly, we learn just how much of a bad ass Lee is as he deals with the undead one by one, all to save Clementine. When the action dies down, we’re treated to some of the best writing in the season to date, with characters really opening up to all the trauma they have been through together. It’s an emotional ordeal, one that will leave you thinking about your actions throughout the last four episodes long after the final credits roll.
The sound design has really stepped up a notch on this final episode with the best voice acting we’ve seen from the cast. The soundtrack swells at the perfect moments, really wringing every drop of emotion it can from the tragedy that is slowly unfolding before your eyes.
Seriously, this is some heavy shit.
I’m not going to lie, I cried during the final moments of The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left. My girlfriend who was watching me play the episode, who hasn’t played any of the other episodes, she cried. I can honestly say I have never cried from a video game before – that is just how powerful Telltale’s writing team is. This was not only the best display of writing in video games this year, but I’d go as far as to say of the last decade.