The Walking Dead: Episode 5 - No Time Left Review

The Walking Dead series shambles to a brief but moving conclusion that doesn't quite live up to the gruesome brilliance of earlier chapters.

by

It may have started with a hungry growl, but The Walking Dead adventure game series goes out with a soft groan in No Time Left. The fifth and final episode in the adventure franchise based on the Robert Kirkman-created graphic novels closes off the saga of Lee Everett and friends with a tearjerker of a conclusion that is suitably gloomy and moving, if not entirely satisfying when compared to the gory brilliance of the preceding chapters. The story veered off track in the last episode, losing a fair bit of steam after the introduction of an offputting new plot device--and the whole thing comes to a halt in this brief final act that lacks the devastating impact of the earlier episodes, despite more than a few heartbreaking moments. (Note: The following text includes information that could be considered minor spoilers for The Walking Dead series.)

Walkers be a-walkin'.

No Time Left picks up where its predecessor, Around Every Corner, left off. Episode four ended with the ragtag gang of zombie apocalypse survivors stuck in Savannah, Georgia, after the notion of securing a boat and heading out to the undead-free high seas didn't work out as planned. Plucky ragamuffin Clementine is still missing, the victim of an abduction that concluded the preceding episode.

The abduction still feels tacked on, a phony way to take things back to the beginning when it was just Lee and Clem on their own. The plot has moved off on a tangent, with a new villain and a corny chase for a missing child that is miles removed from the brutal focus on survival that made the first three episodes so engrossing. The narrative flow feels forced. Too many core characters have died, and it feels like the game is being brought to a close largely because this is the final episode, not because the story is coming to a natural ending.

Aspects of No Time Left also play fast and loose with the premise that the game responds to your actions, although the game varies enough based on how you play that you may or may not see any given inconsistency. At the start of play, for instance, you head out after Clementine with a buddy or four, depending on how good you've been getting along with everyone. But after some quick scenes, you might wind up back at square one, and a group that may have just told you to get lost could immediately offers to pitch in and help find your little buddy.

It's been that kind of day for Lee.

Personalities and motivations can be thrown out the window, depending on the course you pursue. A previously selfish Kenny might suddenly grow a conscience, forgiving a fellow survivor for kicking off a tragic chain of events, and then risk his life to play hero. Yet the scenario might be much more organic should you have taken a different path in previous episodes. In that case, Kenny's motivations are a much more realistic blend of tough-guy bravado and self-importance, which is consistent with how he's behaved throughout the series. You might also witness some touching moments with Kenny when he finally must confront his own selfishness. Some of these conversations also flesh out the characters of Omid and Christa, who were previously as dull as dishwater.

Everything moves at a frenetic pace. You can zip through this episode in little more than an hour or so, less time than it takes to complete any previous episode. Part of the speed comes from the lack of challenge in the quick-choice combat and button-mashing action sequences. Nothing should require more than a single attempt, save a fight near the end of the game with a gun-wielding nutcase.

There isn't a great deal to look at or listen to, either. Visuals are limited, mainly because most of the game takes place in just a few rooms and on a couple of narrow streets crowded with zombies. The game does a great job of making you feel hemmed in by undead, though. Crowds of the shambling stinkers pack the streets, alleys, and homes of Savannah. You can always hear them groaning away, and even when you are safely indoors, they are sometimes visible right outside, shuffling past windows as an ever-present threat. The Xbox 360 edition suffers once again from a murky color palette (though this problem is less drastic than before), and the PS3 version gets occasionally choppy, but the production values are largely identical across platforms.

Shambling horrors and empty hallways.

Dialogue might be somewhat restricted, largely due to the ever-shrinking supporting cast, though you may still experience moving, in-depth conversations depending on the composition of your group. The conversations that you do have seem to have been speeded up. Less time is available to choose answers, because you're hustling for reasons that are clear if you played episode four. There are some great moments in the script, however, particularly a gruesome surgical sequence that recalls events from the graphic novel.

The voice acting also remains superb. The acting and dialogue are better here than in the last couple of episodes, in spite of the inconsistent characterizations. Characters get along better here than they did earlier, and there is more depth and nuance to their lines. This is especially true with Kenny, who is much more rational now in comparison with the whining caricature of the last two episodes. Omid and Christa share more of the spotlight during the search for Clem, too, which makes them finally seem like worthwhile additions to the cast.

All aboard!

The finale makes an attempt to tie the game's villain to earlier events, but the explanations aren't solid enough to make his actions plausible. The character feels like a deus ex machina figure plopped in to assess Lee's failings as a human being and look back at the whole bloody mess that has unfolded since the dead woke up absolutely starving. This angle was awkwardly shoehorned in as a big surprise at the end of episode three and never properly integrated into the plot, which was previously doing just fine by concentrating on evading zombies and finding an escape route via sailing away from Savannah. The villain is creepy, at least, and a nifty scene following the credits brings everything to a suitably uncertain conclusion that is either heartwarming or downright spooky. Either way, the stage is aptly set for a second series.

No Time Left provides a fulfilling sense of closure to this first series of Walking Dead episodes, even while it strays from the story and characters that were developed in the earlier episodes. After starting strongly with three fantastic chapters, the plot got derailed once the group reached Savannah in episode four and never fully regained its momentum. Still, the complete package of five episodes forms a great adventure when looked at in its entirety. The whole game features memorable characters, countless scenes packing big emotional wallops, and plenty of grisly gross-out horror, so it has to be highly recommended despite a few stumbles near the finish line.

The Good
Closing scene finishes off the story in heart-wrenching fashion
Claustrophobic atmosphere with hordes of zombies all around you
Some great moments with the script and voice acting
The Bad
Shortest episode of the series, clocking not much more than an hour
Disappointing final confrontation
7.5
Good
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Discussion

1 comments
rickphoenixxx
rickphoenixxx

Without a doubt, the worst ending i have EVER seen. The whole five chapters revolved around keeping Clementine safe and your main protagonist Lee(who is an amazing character with depth) just feels like a mere babysitter up until the end. Clem is a whiny brat who doesn't appreciate Lee at all and just wants to find her parents, even though Lee does everything he can to keep her safe the whole time. And one of the few times he doesn't have her duct taped to his hip, she stupidly gets herself abducted and Lee gets bit because of it. But what's unforgivable is a game that actually asks me to cut off my own arm to avoid turning into a zombie, and then kills me at the end anyway for no good reason. And setting up Clementine to be a main protagonist(Ha!) in the next chapters make's Lee's death even worse. Bullshit endings can ruin any otherwise good game, or "point and click adventure" like this one. 

neon_xeon
neon_xeon

Brett Todd,You sir must be fired for life....i mean what more DO YOU WANT FROM AN EPISODIC ADVANTURE game?i never played any point click game because i simply got bored with puzzle and stupid stories but this episode story is even better then ANY post apocalyptic movie i ever saw or played a game...i mean seriously this definitely is the best episode in the series and the best game in point click advanture this easily gets 9.5 and from me a perfect 10

nomailx
nomailx

I don't like these kind of game's pretending that you have choices through out the story. In fact, you never have choices in the outcomes that matter the most. *** Spoilers Ahead *** For example, your protagonist always dies, or you can never save the journalist, nor the little boy from being bitten, etc... Your choices affect only irrelevant situations like who accompanies you in one quest, or else. If you want to enjoy this game, just watch it, and keep the interaction as some kind of fun feature. It's not really a "game".

weisguy119
weisguy119

***WARNING***SPOILER ALERT***

My comments below contain major polt spoilers for those who haven't played the game.  You've been warned.

weisguy119
weisguy119

This game had an interesting story that got kind of corny towards the end.  Who leaves their car abandoned and unlocked with the keys in it and gets THAT pissed when someone comes along in a post-apocalyptic, scavenge-or-die world and strips it clean.  Who wouldn't pick the car clean?  You'd be a supreme idiot not to.  There are no morals concerning thievery in such a world when people in your group are starving and in need.  You do what you gotta do.  Everyone in that setting would understand that.  The guy should've parked the car off the road, locked it (for what little good that would do) and hid it with branches and leaves or something.  Protect your own or lose it.  It's not Lee's fault the guy was a moron.  If I found the car hidden and locked, I'd be more inclined to try to find its owners before stripping it clean.  Leaving it unattended and so easily accessible, the way he did, makes me think something happened to them and it's there for the taking.  Also, why didn't Kenny just pop Ben in the alley and get out of Dodge?  If he wanted to off himself, there are much easier ways to go - especially when you come upon more ammo.

Gallesh
Gallesh

Wow.. I cant believe Brett Todd is still reviewing games. (WTF)

 

After the disastrous game reviews he had done in 2007 i always assumed he was fired or just hanged himself.

 

Please just dont pay attention to his reviews, this guy knows nothing about games..

Neil211
Neil211

I'm sorry but this episode was pure perfection. I haven't seen a story this good since "The World Ends With You". The climatic ending with Lee and Clem actually made me shed a few tears o.0 

daabulls23
daabulls23

It was a good ending. At the end of it all, it wasn't about having a big climatic fight against a bunch of zombies. It was about the relationship between Clem and Lee, and how much Lee went through to basically save Clem.

aquaphx
aquaphx

7.5 is right.

i'm gonna skip the next season. after episode 3, i just pick any option because it doesn't matter.

Pickleking23
Pickleking23

I disagree. This was an amazing ending, almost flawless even. I would personally give it a 9.5. So heart-wrenching and so well done. Voice acting was top notch to add.

vault-boy
vault-boy

There are some valid complaints here, mostly being that it was a little short and not very climactic BUT it had some of the most emotional moments the industry has ever seen. For me it would go from best to worse 2-1-5-3-4. All in all the game deserves somewhere between a 8.5-9.0 and I can't wait for season 2.

outlawst
outlawst

no spoiler :after the accident at the final event in 4th episode,they ruined the last episode,cause you already know what will be happens next,there were no surprise in the main story at the last episode,but after all the whole series was so fun to play.

buckwild73
buckwild73

I liked the 2nd episode most in this series but this episode a close second. As good as the TV series imo but with more emotion & better characters.

iempire68
iempire68

that was so sad. great story. glad i had the experience. 

Gamemaster_94
Gamemaster_94

This game was just... pure awesomeness. Really awesome ending. Thanks Telltale for this outstanding series! :D

renome
renome

A quality series, but mediocre last episode (except the emotional ending).

ewjiml
ewjiml

SO this is the only video game that nearly brought me to tears.  I agree with the reviewer saying that it is short, and I do wish they fleshed out the conclusion more.  But the series as a whole, I would give a 9.  Great acting, dialogue, and enough variety to keep me going.  If people are pissed about the ending, they should be because it is absolutely brutal. 

pseudospike
pseudospike

The whole game (all episodes) easily deserves a 9.0!

 

Not only is it the best zombie game ever made, not only does it have some of the best heart-string tugging writing in the history of games, not only that but it is also a unique take on the Adventure genre.

 

Giving this a 7.5 just because it's short is like giving RE6 a 4.5 just because it's not what you expected...oh wait...

cyborg100000
cyborg100000

Great series, emotional ending, can't remember another game that brought a tear to my eye. Very tense episode all the way through, one of the darkest games I've played.

FreakshowGamer
FreakshowGamer

I absolutely felt this way after I completed it. It felt so rushed and weird. The conclusion was so anti-climactic and the guy at the end was so useless to the story. Episodes 1-3 were amazing, 4 was good but then 5 just sort of stirred up my feelings for the series as a whole. I don't know what to say.

ao28
ao28

Even though it is the shortest episode, I do believe it was the best one. The intensity was extremely high and I have never been more emotional during a game or even a movie. As gut wrenching and horrifying the ending was (it also made me cry), I would not have it any other way. Almost all of your choices are at least mentioned in this episode, even little dialogue choices. What I thought of shortly after was how this was the complete opposite of the mass effect 3 ending. While both are amazing games, mass effect, while it is an excellent game, completely botched the ending, as none of your choices matter and I felt like I did not get a full conclusion. Walking Dead was also an amazing game, but the end was its best moment. pretty impressive for 5 episodes at 5 bucks a piece. Can't wait for season 2!

q-bert39
q-bert39

The whole "stranger" (aka pedophile rapist on the radio) plot was retarded and unneeded. None of them died proper deaths.

 

Kenny completely broke character and sacrificed himself to save a radio they didnt even need/use. They botched the last few episodes in a half hearted attempt to add suspense and emotion.

 

 

scrkpr
scrkpr

Whoever wrote this is an idiot. Who cares if it's too short? It was an hour long, but it left me more emotionally drained than any game I've ever played! What ever happened to quality over quantity?

Robspace1
Robspace1

The ending was bad. It left everything in limbo and way too many questions not answered. But, wait a minute folks- alas! This was not the end, no. Word is out that the next part is being made now. So, it's not over yet.

SirenAries
SirenAries

im so happy another reviewer pointed out how the final episode was the weakest. the length and the abrupt unsatisfying ending was just not worth it. the game just ends and seems unfinished vs a proper cliffhanger or closing. im all for cliffhangers, but dont just end it like that, totally felt cheap and was not worth all you had went through waiting for the episodes and just how amazing the game really is. it seriously just ends and you dont know anything about the outcome. its like theres scenes missing. i was so disappointed in this episode.

zmija58
zmija58

I really really don`t understand why people would cry at the end of this...????I mean everything that happend in the e5 (only the introduction scene was like...hey holy fuck they will not do this...oh hell...they will) was so predictable ...And the end...was not sad, was not surprising! It was a bit emotional ...if I were a 9 year old! I mean "Founding Nemo" was more emotional...For me the most disappointing was that no matter what decision You make during Your adventure the final outcome is always the same. It reminds me of another game from this year...and that wound is not healed yet so... 

tmrtyn
tmrtyn

Man, I hadn't cried that much in a game since Tifa died xD

twister_nt
twister_nt

I agree with the final score here. No matter what choices were made, the same people *had* to die in the end. Very disappointed- it would have been game of the year, until the ending- the zombie slaying in the street was pretty bad-ass though :)

SUNDRAGONJ
SUNDRAGONJ

I give it an 8 or an 8.5 at most. The story was brilliant, yes it was short but the story telling is really what matters and they did it right! If they don't make a sequel then they will be letting a lot of fans down, including this one.

wyan_
wyan_

The final boss in this episode is Steve Pavlina.

AlisterFlint
AlisterFlint

by some aspects,  TWD finale could be disappointing: too short, too sad, not enough people make it through, you name it; BUT compared to so many supposedly "top" games flooding the market, TWD still stands its grounds because at least TTG tried to deliver quality all the way; and that's refreshing, nowadays.

 

having said that, it's true it's too short. :)

SebMillGermany
SebMillGermany

Most of the people playing games as mean of distraction or escapism want a happy ending, or an ending full of glory, even if that included a sacrifice (Like Tassadar in Starcraft), however, this can`t be applied to The Walking Dead.I loved that ending.

lester850
lester850

Well I played the game twice and chose different option every single time. My first Lee was more like a leader who tried to take care of everyone and the second Lee was a jerk (I even chose "..." if all the available answers were too good). But sadly the progressions of the game from both playthrough are the same. I'm somewhat disappointed because I was expecting different routes and multiple endings.

 

The stranger and Kenny storyline is just the example of it. From one playthrough their motivation is very believable and the other one I would say what the hell would they've thinking?

ruudboy5
ruudboy5

I genuinely can't believe people are disappointed by the ending. It was a friggin' masterpiece in storytelling! I haven't cared that much about characters in a videogame for a long long time. I agree about the brevity of it being a negative but story-wise it was the best of the episodes. So brutal, so sad. My personal choice for game of the year.

 

SPOILERS

 Seems like a few people thought the stranger/kidnapper guy was crap and should have been a character we knew but in my opinion it was far better and scarier to have it be a random guy that was has been destroyed by the situation. And having it tie into the car that the group takes from was clever. Yes there are plot holes in terms of how he was in Savannah and followed you etc. but I honestly didn't even consider them until I read some comments threads.  I also haven't played any of the chapters more than once a from a couple of comments I read it seems that the discussion with the stranger is not as satisfying in other playthroughs. Still, I loved this so much and can't wait for another season or just another game from Telltale.

Candyman_GR
Candyman_GR

@nomailx

well.. all computer games are just a illusion of reality.
You dont really have freedom, you only have freedom within the choices the developers of the game give you.

So the point of a game is how well does present the "illusion", and how immersive it can be for the player. And this game does a good job on that.

Yes, it is story driven and heavily scripted, but who really cares? If you enjoy playing it (not this particular game, any game), then the reason for its existence, has justified.


neon_xeon
neon_xeon

@aquaphx why?? because carley died?i would have done the same but that clamentine character isn't easy to forget.......

WakizashiSabre
WakizashiSabre

@outlawst Agree totally. I have not tried the option with cutting off the arm, but i guess Lee will die because blood loss or will turn anyway. For me I find the fifth one among the weakest.

I think the fourth, third and the second were best for me.

pseudospike
pseudospike

 @FreakshowGamer Isn't that EXACTLY what a good final episode should do?  All those feels.  Brilliant game, equally brilliant ending IMO.  Looking forward to another season!

ewjiml
ewjiml

 @q-bert39 SPOILER ALERT.  Thanks.  Btw, you would understand why Kenny did it if you read the dialogue.  Not that hard to understand why he did it. 

ewjiml
ewjiml

You didn't cry because you are that hardcore.....bro....

Vojtass
Vojtass

 @ruudboy5 Most of people don't like unhappy endings. It's too uncomfortable, too disturbing for'em.

SirenAries
SirenAries

 @Vojtass i didnt have an issue of what happened, it was just how it was done. theres a giant gap between the scene before the credits and after. it seemed very cheap and more like a budget restraint than what could have been. it wasnt what happened, it was how they portrayed it that was really weak. reminded me of the ending in "Angel" terrible ending for the fans. instead of feeling like, wow great ending cant wait to see what happens. it was after all that, they ended it like that. you gotta be kidding me. bad directing.

SirenAries
SirenAries

 @Vojtass  @ruudboy5 im all for unhappy endings. but this ending was just like they ran out of time. the cliffhanger was done poorly and deserved better. poof...over

leeti
leeti

 @Vojtass  @ruudboy5 Actually, I prefer unhappy endings and it was heartbreaking to watch, but what I think me and most people who disliked the episode feel is the whole story was problematic. They left too many things unsolved and the ending was the conclusion to a recently disappointing story. You couldn't help but think "what? that's it?" because they left everything unanswered with the promise of continuing on the next season - and that is a very, very unforgivable trick to play on the fans. It only didn't ruin the whole experience for me because the first three episodes were really memorable.

WakizashiSabre
WakizashiSabre

@Vojtass@leeti

I think, that our friend wanted to point out the option of you "tailoring the story"  And that makes damn sense. You can choose who should live and die somehow when playing the game and that is nice thing indeed.

With this nice thing, there is the expectation some similar thing will also happen at the end. Good endings and bad endings would be damn nice. And honestly, while not BW with EA behind azz, making more endings would not be that hard, considering their writing skills during all episodes.

Vojtass
Vojtass

 @leeti High expectations are good, but not too high IMO.

 

You have to take into account that TWD is more or less middle budget game and more possibilities means more money. Unfortunately Telltale isn't a BioWare, who has support of EA. Besides I don't really see what is really wrong with more linear structure. Most of adventure games are linear and many of them are outstanding.

leeti
leeti

 @Vojtass  But it isn't it something good to have high expectations? It means the creators were doing a great job that we really wanted them to keep up. What's wrong about that? It's also great to have critical sense about what you're playing and to be demanding on the quality of the game (or, really, of anything else in life), instead of mindlessly liking whatever thing's thrown at you. Demanding players make creators be demanding with the quality of their work :D

 

Maybe depending on your choices they could've made you not even get bitten and gone to a totally different path with the story. Or maybe cutting off your arm could've saved you even with the psychological and physical torture it would cause. There are literally endless good possibilities for the ending that weren't considered. I'm starting to think maybe the bite was the huge mistake. I also have that feeling the story will continue and if they can really make it good again I'll gladly clap my hands.

Vojtass
Vojtass

 @leeti  @ruudboy5 Actually it's really important who is playing. Some people have too high expectations. They expect to see something absolutely incredible even if they know subconsciously that any other ending will be horrendous, just bad, extremely cliche etc. I can't imagine an outcry if Lee would miraculously survive or be healed by secret antidote from government lab. Even when ending has high quality, people with too high expactations almost always are greatly dissapointed. Creators never will be able to make them happy. I'm sure that ANY cliffhanger would dissapoint them too. And BTW - there are many changes that appear (or not) and they're depending on your playstyle. I have also a feeling that the story will be continued in 2nd season.

ruudboy5
ruudboy5

 @leeti  @Vojtass Suppose we just have to agree to disagree on this (is that allowed on the internet?!) I personally thought the ending was extremely well written and executed maybe aside from it being a bit short. For me, the choices affected the story as it played out and changed who dies when, who comes with you in ep 4, and how the characters developed. The fact that specific aspects of the ending are set does not bother me and I never felt like I was being steered in a particular direction or forced to decide something that I didn't want to. Maybe this was just a happy fit between the game design and the way I wanted to play as Lee.

leeti
leeti

 @Vojtass  @ruudboy5 Not really. The story finishing poorly has nothing to do who's playing, it has to do with the writers. That is an obvious thing. Especially when our choices didn't matter at all because everyone gets the same ending. Way to finish a game where 'the story is tailored by how you play'.

 

One thing is building an amazing cliffhanger throughout the story and other thing is playing a cheap trick on everyone who had high expectations on the game. I also love when things are left unanswered but only when it's done in a decent way. Not in a way that makes me lose my trust in the writers.

Vojtass
Vojtass

 @leeti  @Vojtass  @ruudboy5 The problem lies in people. They think that everything MUST be solved and everything should be showed. No, it doesn't have to. I like when some things are left without answer. It force me to think what happened and what could have happened. So yeah, that's it. Deal with it.

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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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