The Walking Dead: Episode 2 - Starved for Help Review

Starved for Help is a disgusting and disturbing look at the realities of life after the zombie apocalypse in the world of The Walking Dead.

Gross-outs combine with a number of disturbing moral choices to create one unsettling game in The Walking Dead: Episode 2: Starved for Help. Telltale Games builds on the intensity of the first episode in this ongoing series, throwing around buckets of blood and adding in some disquieting glimpses of life after the zombie apocalypse. Although fans of Robert Kirkman's comics might recognize plot points lifted directly from the black-and-white series, this is still a gut shot of an adventure sure to keep you creeped out for the three or four hours that it lasts.

Deciding what to do with crackers and cheese can be surprisingly difficult.

Three months have passed since the ragtag group of survivors who came together in Episode 1 first set up shop in a barricaded motel courtyard. Protagonist Lee Everett, a convicted killer freed by a walker on the interstate in the opening moments of the first episode, is in something of an uneasy truce with other members of the gang. Everyone is on edge now, the result of nearly running out of food and having to deal with the argumentative Larry and his headstrong daughter Lily, who has taken it upon herself to lead the group. The story now branches farther away from the comics, taking on more of a life of its own, with nothing like the somewhat cheesy appearance of comics fave Glenn as one of the main characters in the first episode.

Most of the tale focuses on the moral decisions that need to be made due to the harsh realities of life in a world where dead people want to nosh on your brains. The game kicks off with Lee being faced with trying to save a man from a bear trap by hacking off his leg with an axe, and continues through wrenching choices about which members of your party to feed when the rations dwindle to almost nothing and whether or not to kill a bad guy even with a child watching.

Walkers are lucky. There are plenty of tasty humans for them to sink their teeth into.
Character conflicts are carried over from the first episode, and glimpses of personality traits and potential sore points are brought forward. So it's not a big surprise that Lee runs into big trouble with Larry, or that Kenny remains a coward when called upon to help out a buddy in dire need. The script is excellent. It moves the plot along quickly while also lingering long enough in spots to bring out personalities, such as a telling moment where Kenny assumes that Lee, a black man, would know how to pick a lock because he's "urban." With that said, the main plot leaves a little to be desired. The big secret about sinister dairy farmers holed up behind an electric fence is telegraphed from the moment that Lee and crew set foot on their property, yet the game chugs along as if the source of the family's food supply is an unfathomable mystery. Anyone who has read the Kirkman comics will also recognize elements of this tale from the early issues of the series.

Though the plot is predictable, it is told very well with a supreme ick factor that will leave you shocked and nauseous. The tough choices that you're faced with through action and conversation, along with regular bouts of scrambly quick-time arcade sequences of the same sort as those featured in the first game, thicken an atmosphere of apprehension. There is more depth here than in Episode 1. You take an active role in more situations now and have to think when conversing with characters or committing yourself to courses of action. Where in the last chapter Lee was something of a lone wolf keeping himself apart from his companions due to worries about his criminal past being revealed, here he is a member of a group dealing with stresses like the daily threat from walkers and the ever-present risk of starvation. The sense of a broken moral order hangs over everything and forces you to make choices between actions that can be justified for survival and actions that cross the line into barbarity.

Carley looks on in awe at the impressive glare techniques Kenny and Lilly are demonstrating.

Performance issues are something of an annoyance, however. While the graphic-novel visuals look fantastic, and some of the in-close camera problems have been cleared up to afford you a better view of most scenes, the Xbox 360 game remains murky. Dark visuals are accompanied by lots of stuttering now, too. Frame-rate hitches occur almost every time the scene switches to a new character or a new camera angle. They don't greatly affect the gameplay, but the constant problem is irritating, and at times the pauses are so lengthy that you briefly fear that the game has locked up. Problems are also apparent with syncing lip movement to dialogue and with some atmospheric sound effects. At the start of the game, for instance, Clementine is kicking a soccer ball against a metal barrel, and the clang of the ball is a good second or more off from what you see onscreen.

Starved for Help is a great second episode in Telltale's Walking Dead franchise. The story borrows much from the graphic novels and is predictable even if you haven't read them, and the performance issues cause some grief, but this is an excellent adventure that needs to be played by every horror fan. It grosses you out at the same time that it makes you think about the fragile nature of society--and what would happen if everything suddenly broke down and left us scrounging to keep our stomachs full.

The Good
Fantastic script, with first-rate dialogue and characterizations
More tough choices with dialogue and action
Some really disturbing sequences that delve into the fragile nature of society
The Bad
Somewhat predictable plot
Performance issues on the Xbox 360
8.5
Great
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About the Author

Other Takes on The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series

Shaun McInnis is a veteran of the zombie apocalypse and Telltale's The Walking Dead ranks as one of his all-time favorites in the genre. He would prefer to pretend that The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct never existed.
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Discussion

2 comments
tigger101cool
tigger101cool

PREDICTABLE?!

*SPOILER ALERT*

The farmers hack your friend's legs off and serve them to you for dinner for sh!t's sake!

SolidTy
SolidTy

"Performance issues are something of an annoyance...Xbox 360 game remains murky. Dark visuals are accompanied by lots of stuttering now, too. Frame-rate hitches occur almost every time the scene switches to a new character or a new camera angle."

 

"Problems are also apparent with syncing lip movement to dialogue and with some atmospheric sound effects."

 

--------

 A shame about the 360 port of this game. I got into this series incidentally because of PS+. I got Episodes 1 & 2 for free. Not too shabby! :P

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

Sorry, but a bunch of farmers hacking off your friend's legs and feeding you to them for dinner is not what I'd call "unpredictable."

theslovakian38
theslovakian38

tell you the truth i didnt find it predictable at all. im mean i knew something was up with the family because who would play a game where there was no problem at all? just walk around and eat dinner? nope. but the their "problem" isnt predictable...

jomipira
jomipira

Read that it's coming free to PSN Plus subscribers. Yeah! Two more good games to my collection!

thereal-15-cent
thereal-15-cent

 

*SPOILERS*

I just beat the episode. I wouldn't say it was "predictable". I knew from the beginning that things probably wouldn't go half as smooth as planned, and that things weren't as simple as they seemed, but this is The Walking Dead.... That stuff goes without saying. I couldn't tell what the "problem" was until I had seen it. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn't sure what.

jessiel21
jessiel21

I believe this game is amazing, because has the horror of the t.v. series and options that other zombie games don't have.

SPUDIRL3
SPUDIRL3

Another top notch episode, very well wrote, but its the music that i really love about these games. Its fantastic

Giglioroninomic
Giglioroninomic

Your review is wrong, by the way. It's a dairy farm, They said they have food. They said they grow food there. Food does not mean meat, though we all know meat is the best food. They never said "We have a shit ton of meat." So yes, it was somewhat of a mystery.

Giglioroninomic
Giglioroninomic

I gave this game a minimum of 9. You can't subtract points for plot predictability - everything ever has a predictable plot when it comes to games and walking dead is by n o means an exception.

thereal-15-cent
thereal-15-cent

For anyone who hasn't heard, they just announced a Walking Dead FPS based on the TV show. You get to be Daryl Dixon, and it's a prequel. It sounds like a survival horror so far, so it could be awesome.

NoidUK
NoidUK

think I will just wait till enough episodes come out to make it worth buying, hate all that waiting shit..............

twister_nt
twister_nt

Telltale have nailed it this time. Amazing game - on the edge of my seat for the next episode!!

Harshbrown
Harshbrown

I just downloaded it but I do not feel like playing, I wonder if I am missing out?

Namgis
Namgis

Waiting for all the episodes to release on disc before I buy. It will be difficult waiting. Glad my back log is on the large size.

hongyi0220
hongyi0220

I just love this game!

Anybody know when will episode 3 come out?

Nix11PS3
Nix11PS3

Great episode

Definetly better than the first one

awwitz
awwitz

A totally amazing game that is bleeding with depth and thick narrative. Every character is fleshed out in a very convincing way, and the game itself soars.

Expressionbee
Expressionbee

I just finished chapter 2. I had to replay chapter 1 since 3months have passed. That being the biggest drawback to this game. Overall.. I love it! Chapter 2 was predictable but regardless of that I was hooked and couldn't put the controller down. Cannot wait for the next episode! 3months is too long between chapters!!

orpheus-livepa
orpheus-livepa

are they working on a fix for the 360 issues, im presuming XBLA games get updates ?

otherwise i wont be following the series any further

Psycold
Psycold

I want to play this but I would rather wait until they are all released before I get into it. 

pmaloni
pmaloni

How can you review this game so highly with the technical flaws preventing the marquee feature of this game from functioning properly?  Choices made in prior episodes have either been reversed, or mixed rendering them meaningless and driving 'your' story in a direction 'you' did not choose.  

 

Additionally, attempting to play more than one game on a system, be it XBOX, PS3 or PC introduces a whole new set of bugs.

 

Yes, the story is appealing, but without the marquee features of this franchise functional the game should recieve a 6 at best.  Don't waste your money until this thing has been patched.

ramb1402
ramb1402

Loved episode 2, shorter than episode 1 but also very more intense and immersive. I can't get enough of this game. I hope the developers keep working on something similar or a walking dead 2, this is just great guys, support them buying their stuff.

Doobsac
Doobsac

Ps3 version has performance issues too. Episode 2 was awesome besides that.

soapman72
soapman72

PS3 version I only had 2 slowdowns and no audio problems

notsonegi
notsonegi

I found episode 2 so much grittier and emotionally involving than the first one. The story is excellently scripted and i can't wait for the next part 

thehorror2
thehorror2

@jessiel21 Plus....

*SPOILER WARNING*














 

My least favorite character, Larry, dies before the end.

thehorror2
thehorror2

@NoidUK You were right to do so; I can't imagine having to wait weeks and weeks to get another morsel of plot.

moataz1993
moataz1993

 @Harshbrown believe me, you are missing half of your life time ......this episode kept me chained to my chair for about 3 hours..... immersion, that what this game does 

beaverhead
beaverhead

 @pmaloni damn. that sucks it isn't working for you. understand why you're angry. seeing your choices evolve is the best part of this game. definitely a worthwhile game if is works though

Dareitus
Dareitus

 @pmaloni Proof? I loaded my game the day it came out, and both my saves (One "good" mannered toon with carly and one "mean" toon with doug) worked perfectly fine. My buddy then loaded up his profile and played through his save (for 3 saves on my 360). All 3 of us had all our original data and played through ep 2 in its entirety.we did have the slow downs and audio glitches but broken? no.

Fergood
Fergood

 @ramb1402 really? I thought it was longer :o, although it's been 2 months since I played the first one.. Loved the 2nd one as well

ghstbstr
ghstbstr

 @notsonegi

 Yes, it is really good. I can't wait either for the 3rd episode, but how long is that going to take to come out?

This was supposed to be a monthly episodic game, that turned out to be a whenever they want to release it episodic game.

Vodoo
Vodoo

 @vaillant085 The PS3 versions offer you to buy all 5 episodes now for $20, instead of the full $25 you'd have to pay buying them separately. The Xbox will most likely do that once they're all released. That's when I plan to buy them. 

 

On another note... I was under the impression that these episodes were supposed to come out once a month. In the review it says it's been 3 months. WTF?!!!

pmaloni
pmaloni

 @Dareitus Sorry Dareitus but it is broken.  TBH I have not yet tried the XBOX version but there are numerous bug reports for PS3 and I have experienced the glitch personally on the PC.

 

If you want proof I suppose I could FRAPS the whole thing but I would prefer you would take my, and the hundreds of other users reporting issues, word for it. 

 

I am a software engineer with over 10 yrs of experience.  I'm not beyond making a mistake, but I am about 99% certain this has nothing to do with user error.

 

Head on over to the telltale forums and see for yourself...

 

My mistake on listing XBOX along with PS3 and PC.  I have seen bug reports on XBOX but not for this specific issue.  I guess I should limit my comments to PC in the future as that is my experience, is most certainly a bug, and ruins the single biggest feature in the game.

 

By the way, since my last post I played through the game again from an empty save slot (I deleted on of my games).

 

 

Spoilers Below...

 

 

[SPOILERS]

I selected 'punch larry in the face' option and sided with Kenny throughout.  At the end of the game it showed in my stats that I sided with Kenny.  I also told Clementine the truth about my past in this play through, holding nothing back.  

 

Still, on episode 2 as I approach the barn Lee says he lied to Clementine and at the swing Kenny says I didn't have his back when Larry was ready to throw Duck out.  These two choices were opposite of the ones I made in episode 1.  

 

The one choice that did hold was the decision to keep Carley.  Unfortunately that hardly meets my expectation for this game.  If enough people want to argue and say this isn't a bug I'll fraps the whole thing.  Hell, I might do it anyway in an effort to get TTG's attention.

[/SPOILERS]

 

 I just want this fixed...

Giglioroninomic
Giglioroninomic

 @ghstbstr It's supposed to be next month The episodes were planned to be released on a monthly basis until October, to keep you playing until Season 3 starts. Ep. 2 took two months to come out, not sure why, but hopefully they stick to the 1 month schedule.

Giglioroninomic
Giglioroninomic

 @Vodoo A) In t he storyline, it has been 3 months. B) Ep. 1 came out at the end of April. Ep. 2 came out at the end of June. The game episodes were supposed to be on a monthly release format, at the end of each month. They delayed a little bit but we'll see if Ep. 3 comes out at the end of August or July.

pmaloni
pmaloni

 @Philly1UPer Go back and read again... I do think they should take my, and the hundreds of other uses on the telltale forums word for it.  FWIW I did try to fraps the event.  I played through the entire game reproducing the issue.  When I finished and checked FRAPS only recorded me deleting my games and starting a new one and then stopped for some reason.  

 

At that time I decided to hell with it, I really don't care if these people believe me or not.. I'd rather invest my time in trying to resolve the issue.

 

Fortunately a full uninstall, redownload of the installed from telltale, and fresh install seems to have corrected all issues with my game.  I didn't mention it above because it wasn't a 'game breaking' issue but in my previous game even the controls menu was messed up.  It would display the controls for a gamepad and nothing else (even though I don't have one installed, or even own one).  After the reinstall even these minor issues have been corrected.

 

Based on the research I've done Telltale patched the game at some point but didn't notify me.  My game, and some others, did not pick up or apply the patch properly resulting in a horribly flawed gaming experience.

 

Thankfully, it all seems fixed.. for now.

 

pmaloni
pmaloni

 @Giglioroninomic Thanks for the response.  I did a full uninstall of my game and a re-install and still had the same issue.  

 

Finally, I did a full uninstall, and downloaded the installer from Telltale again.  Using their updated installed (which was never mentioned to me, btw) I was able to reinstall the game and have not experienced any of the issues that plagued my game previously.

 

I am holding off final judgement until I play through the game a third time and episode two is released but for now my choices are saving and I have only a few minor technical glitches that don't prevent me from enjoying the game any longer.

 

Good luck!

Giglioroninomic
Giglioroninomic

 @pmaloni Actually I lied, I too encountered those two exact same issues because I made the same choices you did.

Giglioroninomic
Giglioroninomic

 @pmaloni I have yet to experience any issue whatsoever at any point in the game. The only two things I have ever found fault with are in my review on wordpress. You can't initiate an action prompt while moving, and the pathfinding is occasionally sketchy.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

 @pmaloni Well, I only asked because you told a user you would use FRAPs to prove to them the whole game is broken....but then told them they should really go here and just do this instead so you don't have too and they should just take your word for it.

pmaloni
pmaloni

 @Philly1UPer Okay, I guess I'll FRAPS it since I was going to play through again anyway.  In the meantime can you at least go look at the Telltalegames forums and see for yourself I am not the only person reporting/experiencing this issue.

 

Just out of curiosity... what exactly to you think I have to gain by lying to you about this?  It certainly doesn't make me happy to report this.  Further, it's not just my word but a whole mess of users.

 

I'll start the recording tonight and will have something up by EOD tomorrow.  I just hope you'll come here and attest / back me up once this is all finished.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

 @pmaloni I would actually want you to prove this with FRAPs. Kinda hard to just go on a complete strangers word that this game is broken like the way you are making it out to be. I on the other hand, have not encountered any of the problems you say this game has, I have some slight performance issues on my PS3 version, but it just little dumb things that dont ruin the game for me.

The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series More Info

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    The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series is a zombie game that lets players experience the true horror and emotional impact of being a survivor of the undead apocalypse.
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