By Marty Mulrooney
Give No Shelter is the second episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne, a three-part episodic miniseries from Telltale Games (Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones) based on Robert Kirkman’s best-selling comic books. In Episode 2, Michonne, Pete and Sam must run for their lives following a daring escape from the floating colony of Monroe.
“Taking someone’s life… that changes you forever.” Michonne knows this better than anyone. At times, she can seem unstoppable with her lethal katana – but every person she kills comes with a heavy price tag. Give No Shelter continues immediately after the cliffhanger ending of the opening episode, with Michonne and Samantha standing next to a dead body (or two, depending on your previous decisions).
Their first priority is escaping Monroe and its leaders, but Michonne won’t leave without Pete. After mounting a rescue, they must avoid the colony’s gun-toting citizens and escape before they are captured or killed. Almost immediately, the first decision/dilemma presents itself: Pete wants to stop things getting any worse by talking to their pursuers. Will you let him put himself at risk? Or will you keep running and kill anyone who tries to get in your way?
For this reviewer at least, it was an easy decision to make. In this world it’s kill or be killed… and besides, they started it. The interesting thing about this episode is that my viewpoint about killing slowly started to change because of Michonne’s fragile state of mind. It’s very easy for the player to press a button and kill someone. In real life, it would never be so easy… and it certainly isn’t for Michonne.
Samira Wiley continues to do a fantastic job voicing Michonne and this is complimented beautifully by Telltale Games’ stylised animation work bringing the character to life, especially via her facial expressions. She has a hard exterior, but inside she’s in constant turmoil. One moment she’s in the present – the next, the past. These flashbacks are highly effective at showing just how much baggage Michonne is carrying around. She can’t forget about her daughters and every person she kills brings them to the forefront of her mind. A mind on the edge of sanity.
Although this is another short (1.5 hour) experience, the pace is far more relentless than last time round. It has the unfortunate side-effect of making this episode feel even shorter, but on the plus side there are some brilliant set pieces. After the initial battle, there is a tense walk in the woods through a crowd of zombies, followed by a treacherous climb up a collapsed communications tower.
Sadly, it feels like the three episode plan has caused some problems with the usual five episode arc for a Walking Dead episodic series. The villains (especially Randall) seem two-dimensional in their aggression and it’s hard to make decisions feel like they matter when you’re constantly being ushered towards the finishing line. The final decision is difficult, but that’s more because the player will care about Michonne’s state of mind (of course, she can’t be killed) rather than any serious repercussions on the story.
Give No Shelter is great fun and certainly feels like a tighter, better executed episode than its predecessor. It still shares its faults, but it shares its strengths too. In terms of value for money and entertainment value, Telltale Games can still deliver. Whether the final episode will finish strong enough for this miniseries to be remembered as fondly as the adventures of Lee and Clementine – rather than simply as throwaway entertainment – remains to be seen.
8 OUT OF 10