By Marty Mulrooney
Amid The Ruins is the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two – A Telltale Games Series. Following directly on from Episode 3: In Harm’s Way (which Alternative Magazine Online described as “some of the best storytelling in video games – or any medium for that matter – available today”), Episode 4 sees Clementine facing some of the most difficult decisions of her life as the zombies continue to shuffle ever closer and winter fast approaches…
The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two was always going to have a difficult time living up to what had gone before. With Carver gruesomely departed (and the menacingly charismatic Michael Madsen absent as a result), the drama now rests fully upon the shoulders of a group that has never hung together quite the same as the cast from Season One.
That isn’t to say the characters are badly written or anything less than wonderfully fleshed out – quite the opposite in fact. Rather, Clementine has become more and more of a lone wolf since Lee’s death. Despite being surrounded by her fellow survivors, she still comes across as very much alone. There has been a growing sense of isolation and inner turmoil within Clementine this season that is hard to ignore and difficult to swallow. She’s changed – but just how much is up to each individual player.
Episode 4 is all about tough decisions and superb performances. Jane was very much a character in the background last episode (so much so that she wasn’t even mentioned in AMO’s review) but she features prominently here, serving as a potential new role model for Clementine. Christine Lakin delivers a strong performance that resolutely sticks to shades of grey. Lee’s lessons were always about survival and sticking together – Jane’s are about survival and standing apart. It’s an interesting approach to the story that makes the tough decisions even tougher. How much do you actually owe these people? Should you protect them if it means putting yourself in danger?
Melissa Hutchison continues to wow as Clementine, giving one of her best performances of the character to date. Her interactions with Gavin Hammon as Kenny are fraught with shared history and pain and steal the show every time they occur. It says plenty that Clementine feels capable of looking after herself even when faced with a one-eyed, unpredictable ally that could turn from friend to foe at a moment’s notice. The clock ticking down on an impending birth gives the episode drive, but it’s the tension growing within the group that makes the experience so gripping. Even if the final destination is a horrifying cliffhanger…
The Walking Dead: Season Two – Episode 4: Amid The Ruins is a slow burner to begin with, but by the end everything is set ablaze despite the falling snow. As the penultimate episode of the season it effectively raises the stakes and puts Clementine in an extremely difficult position. Whatever happens next will undoubtedly change her forever. If Lee is looking down on her, he’s probably thinking the exact same thing as the anxious players around the world gripping their controllers – is there any way this can end well for Clem? Whatever the answer, the final episode is guaranteed to leave us only wanting more.
9 OUT OF 10
GAME REVIEW – The Walking Dead: Season Two – Episode 1: All That Remains (PC)
GAME REVIEW – The Walking Dead: Season Two – Episode 2: A House Divided (PC)
GAME REVIEW – The Walking Dead: Season Two – Episode 3: In Harm’s Way (PC)