Game Review | The Walking Dead | Season 1, Episode 5 | "No Time Left"
Episode Summary: Lee and the remaining survivors travel across the now infested Savannah in an effort to rescue Clementine from The Marsh House. (Wikipedia)
While very little actually happens in this episode, the ending is still one of the most emotionally-devastating to have appeared in any video game I have ever played. It serves not only as a fitting end to Lee’s story, but also perfectly sets up Clementine to move on to new adventures.
That may make things sound a little more upbeat than they are by the time “No Time Left” is finished, as we are forced to deal with Lee slowly succumbing to the bite from the end of the previous episode, starting with the choice to have his arm removed at the very beginning of this one.
You can choose to continue without doing this, which might be the better choice if you’re not feeling a hundred percent, because it’s bloody difficult to watch. Quite the achievement for a six-year old game depicted in the style of an animated comic book.
More deaths follow during a scene where the group make their way across rooftops on their way to rescue Clem, as Ben falls and is impaled on a pipe, with Kenny finally stepping up and sacrificing himself to save the teen from any prolonged suffering.
I’ve got to admit that, as noble as it is, it still doesn’t make me like Kenny all that much more as it feels a little cheap for him to suddenly change his character and do something like that.
You do feel sorry for Ben though, especially as this follows a rant from him at Kenny pointing out that, while he has kept screwing up and making things worse, he has lost all his friends and family too.
Lee is then separated from Omid and Christa, arranging to meet them outside of town, and having to head on alone. This is where I’ve got to make a criticism that may feel unfair: yes, it is fist-punching the air fun and cathartic for Lee to hack his way through a crowd of the undead, it does make you wonder what a lot of the problems earlier in the season were about.
Seriously, if a one-armed man can quite comfortably hack his way through a truly massive swarm of zombies without a scratch, why was an entire group of people ever bothered by them? It fits the moment, but when thought about from a distance, it does feel a little odd.
Then there’s the conversation with the creepy guy who has taken Clem hostage. This is where writing limitations and the illusion of choice can be really shown up depending on the actions you’ve taken so far.
Having played through the game multiple times before this play-through, I already knew what to do so that he had no real way to make Lee feel guilty, but also made him less sympathetic as a result. If you do make different choices, you can actually see his point of view on a couple of occasions and his remarks can sting a little when you realise how you may have screwed up earlier.
Saying that, these are the only real criticisms I have for the finale. Yes, the looks are a little dated now and the animation is still very basic at best, but the writing and voice-acting more than make up for it. I think the final scene between Lee and Clem is one of the greatest you’ll ever see in a narrative-driven game, leaving me with a sore throat and desperately trying to hold back tears.
It’s been a bumpy ride for the characters and the players to get to that point, but the emotional payoff is incredible in "No Time Left", with the music during the end credits fitting perfectly too. Then the stinger at the end, with Clem spotting two figures in the distance? Ooh boy, here we go again…