The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 5: No Time Left

Posted by Jenny Rouse.
First posted on 04 December 2012. Last updated on 01 April 2014.
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The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 5: No Time Left
Fighting is not the only way to escape.
The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 5: No Time Left
A horde of walkers encroaches slowly upon the safehouse.
The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 5: No Time Left
Tensions run high between Lee and Kenny.
The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 5: No Time Left
Walkers are not the only danger.
The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 5: No Time Left
Clementine is always in danger.

The Walking Dead: Season 1

The season is comprised of 5 seasonal episodes and 1 DLC episode:

Episode 1: A New Day

Episode 2: Starved for Help

Episode 3: Long Road Ahead

Episode 4: Around Every Corner

Episode 5: No Time Left

DLC Episode: 400 Days

The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left is the fifth and final episode of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead. After the upheaval in Around Every Corner, No Time Left puts Clementine more at risk than she has ever been before, and Lee and the remaining members of his group find themselves in the middle of a strict and potentially deadly time limit to rescue her, all the while trying to find their way out of Savannah and away from the hordes of infesting walkers. Without spoiling whatever surprises await the player in the grand finale, this is definitely the most cinematic installment of the series. The episode makes use of sweeping camera angles as well as a particularly memorable and cathartic sequence between Lee and a street full of walkers, serving well as a fitting end to the emotional rollercoaster that has been for the overall series.

The Walking Dead has been a somewhat difficult experience to classify, if only for the fact that after playing through the entire series I no longer consider it to be just a game. Of course, there are inventory based puzzles to solve and environments to explore, but at some point along successive episodes, my mentality has shifted from "characters in a game" to "my friends". Such sentiment may perhaps be laughable. However, there have been very few games which I have played that have had characters resonating with me so completely—that I feel sad whenever any of them get hurt or injured; that I agonize over every in-game decision which I have to make because I do not want to bear the consequences. Simply put, the concept of reloading a save and choosing a different outcome not only no longer occurs to me but also feels like an impossible option. To me, this is a very good sign in what has always been the game's standout strength: the writing. To make the player so emotionally invested in these characters that losing any of them is like losing an old friend—combined with the lingering guilt of not making the "right" decision to save them—is certainly not an easy task, and the writers at Telltale Games deserve every accolade they have received for the overall body of work.

That having been said, however, some compromises have been necessary along the way. The game has always touted that decisions made in it matter and change the story. This is true, but only to an extent. The game is necessarily linear, with tight scripting that dictates, ultimately, the changes wrought by the player's decisions, even though these decisions are superficial at best when judged against how the story plays out in the end. To the game's credit, there are portions which the player will never see unless certain decisions are made. Yet, the game's ending which the player is destined to experience is always the same. Characters that die in a given playthrough will always die in subsequent playthroughs, no matter what decisions are made, and the reverse holds true for survivors as well. However, the decisions that the player makes more importantly change the way Lee (and, by extension, the player) reacts to the various situations surrounding him. Perhaps this is subtle psychology at work. Does sculpting Lee into an ambivalent character subsequently make the game more unnerving for the player? Does a hostile Lee make for a more decisive and hardhearted experience on the player's part?

Furthermore, the emphasis on story has come at the expense of puzzles. While the game has had a few situational puzzles, many of these puzzles lack meaningful integration with the narrative. The Walking Dead—in any of its incarnations, be it comic, television show, or game—has always placed a heavy emphasis on how people treat each other, especially in times of crisis. So, it can certainly be argued that the game series is about Lee and his relationship with Clementine, as they make their way through a world which they no longer recognize and interact with the people who impact on their wellbeing, for better or worse, along the way.

There are very few games that have stuck with me afterwards for as long as The Walking Dead has, especially the heart wrenching coda seen after the credits. It is among the best episodic series—and certainly the best example of storytelling—to come out of Telltale Games to date. I, like many other fans, have high hopes for what the next season will bring to the series.

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