NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW THAT WILL NOT ADDRESS ANY PLOT POINTS.
Other than the slick James Bond like opening for the debut episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne, I was left pretty unimpressed overall. Not to say it was bad or anything, it just felt like it was treading a lot of familiar ground that’s already been done in either episodes of The Walking Dead tv-series as well as other seasons from Telltale. Boy, what a difference a month makes. Not only is The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 2 Give No Shelter a fantastic follow-up episode, but it may be my favourite thing Telltale has ever done period.
I won’t throw around the phrase “action packed” when it comes to a Telltale project, but that’s exactly what this episode is and this is due in large part to the excellent action choreography. Despite my complaints with the first episode, I did like how much better it felt to perform the standard Telltale quick-time event button presses, mashes and control stick slides as Michonne because the on-screen action was gorgeous to look at it. I feel what differentiates this mini-series the most from Season One and Two of The Walking Dead is how satisfying it feels to be in control of such a deadly warrior. It may take away from some of the tension found when playing as either Lee or Clementine as they struggle to deal with one walker, but it feels like putting in a God mode cheat and going nuts as you watch Michonne pretty easily make her way through a herd without batting an eyelash. There were a lot of moments in Give No Shelter that I was either saying “whoa!” aloud or fist-pumping in the same way I would if I was watching an action movie. When surrounded by a large group of enemies with guns, I never felt like I was at a disadvantage and flat-out felt bad for those who were about to get in my way.
What also makes this chapter so great is how well it’s paced. Normally I hate in these episodes when I’m not given a moment to stop and explore, but here I didn’t want it to let up. The episode starts with a big action sequence before going into the credits and then following up with a chase that’s all incredibly thrilling. When it does slow down, it does so effectively to look both into Michonne’s past as well as introduce a new group of survivors that are much more fleshed out than the crew on the boat in episode one. I was dreading meeting one of the new characters who would eventually be introduced because they were described as a hard ass, and I thought, boy, that’s all this series needs but thankfully they were much more rounded and less one-note like other characters and even the villains in this mini-series. That being said though, I do feel that after completing episode two the villains may be exactly what this series needed.
Normally I play Telltale games the way I would tend to act in the real life. That is to say I try to avoid escalating conflict and look out the for the betterment of the group by being sympathetic. That is not how I choose to play this episode, however, as I felt it was disingenuous to the character. Michonne is someone who has had some terrible things happen in her life and she doesn’t want to see people suffer like she did. She’s loyal and faithful to a fault as well as willing to take a bullet for someone, but you also don’t want to cross her path either. There’s a character who tries to be the voice of reason and pull you back from the edge, but even though I genuinely warmed up to the new cast, I was not going to show that same mercy to those who were hunting me. Without spoiling anything, you’re put in a no-win situation where I thought, well, at least I’m going to get some satisfaction over how I choose to conclude this chapter.
Despite getting off to a rocky start, The Walking Dead: Michonne more than made up for that in its sophomore episode. With great action, excellent pacing and a conclusion that makes me want to jump into Episode Three right away, I hope this momentum can carry through to the finale.