Michonne returns, and stays with you.
Warning: Spoilers for Episode ONE In Too Deep lay ahead, don’t read this review until you’ve played the first episode. This review is spoiler free for Give No Shelter only.
Episode One of The Walking Dead: Michonne, a mini TellTale series was a terrific welcome back to the series. After what seemed like an eternity awaiting what TellTale would do next with arguably their most popular franchise, we were surprised to see a spin-off, though no less excited to return to this abandoned, broken world. In Too Deep made us feel at home all over again and would become the beginning of a story that is captivating and exciting, the very best things a TellTale story can be really. With some deeply dark moments along with some wonderful action, it kicked the series off in style and had us chomping at the big for the next episode, Give No Shelter which again, felt like an eternity away.
But it wasn’t. It’s right here, right now. And crikey, will this one stay with you.
We begin Give No Shelter immediately where In Too Deep ended. Michonne has been captured and is looking for an escape route after the death of Sam’s brother Greg, caused by the dastardly Zachary. OK, he’s not really dastardly, he’s a scared kid caught in a terrifying situation. I opted in the last episode to not kill him, rather use him as a way of escape and I’m rather glad I did now, he’s proving somewhat useful. His boyfriend Jonas returned, so at least there’s a little bit of light to brighten the way. Well, I say a little…
First things first though, we need to save Pete from the commanders of this dirty vessel. Without spoiling anything (honestly, I’m gonna do my best), what follows is an action packed pre-title sequence that’ll ensure you forget how to blink for about ten minutes. Featuring tense sequences including staying hidden, with only a few seconds to work out a smooth route, along with hiding from Randall to ensure Pete can escape safely, (the latter of which naturally, doesn’t happen) and you’ve got a cracking opening to the whole story…including AK47’s, explosions and naturally, machetes, Give No Shelter certainly starts as it means to go on.
From there, I was thinking that I was clear but of course, this is TellTale’s The Walking Dead. Without a moment to breathe Michonne, Sam and Pete are again under attack from behind, a sniper taking shots at them as they move to an island full of walkers. You’re then tasked with crawling to safety from gunfire whilst maneuvering your way through a horde of the undead who are coming ever closer. Rather tense and a fantastic sequence, it’s here that we first put into practice that somewhat iconic visual of Michonne using two walkers as a guide/shield through a sea of zombies, connected only by a rope around each of their necks. It’s here we have control of Michonne once again, guiding Pete and Sam alongside her. One assumes we would have got through that sequence regardless, though you obviously you don’t think you will as it’s happening. The trick is to just keep moving, this if of course still going on as you’re getting shot at by Norma and Randall, the latter who catches up with you just as you escape the woods. A memorable sequence only improved by the solid vocal performance of Samira Whiley, who once again brings the pain, strength and power of Michonne to life.
‘Walkers are trouble. People are worse’.
It’s a testament to the writing that I suddenly give a damn about Sam. Whilst she’s going through an awful lot, it was hard to feel sympathy when I met her for the first time, when she had a gun to my head and she was stealing supplies with her brother. Of course, as the story plays out we learn a lot more about her and Greg, and I made the decision to look out for them as best I could as I feel that’s what Michonne would have done. As a player, I could have taken or left the siblings, but I’m in the shoes of Michonne and I feel that was the best course of action. I’ve always played TellTale titles this way. Instead of putting myself in the shoes of this character, I almost become their subconscious, if I have the time I debate as best I can on the best course of action and it normally means helping or serving others, depending on the situation.
For Michonne, we’ve learned in the last episode that she’s lost an awful lot. As we met her she was on the brink of suicide, so hell, she’s lost enough. I can only imagine she’s looking for a purpose in this world, of whatever it is that’s left around these ruthless survivors. Sam could be that reason. Of course, I’m not sure how Episode 3 ‘What We Deserve’ will play out, I just hope I can do right by Michonne.
‘I’m not gonna lie, this is gonna really fucking hurt….’
The scene that follows is one that will be etched onto my brain for the foreseeable future and probably even longer. It’s hard to discuss without going into any kind of detail, though you’ll know exactly what it is when it appears. I found myself wincing, even questioning my own abilities in the particular field oh which I have very little knowledge of. Would it be up to me to do this and see it through? Can this game really just stop on my lack of awareness? The answer, obviously, is no but damn, I felt like the choices I was making were persistently the wrong ones, despite coming out at the end relatively unscathed. What followed hit me like a train and got me visibly emotional which is the first game to do so in a while (looking at you Joel and Sarah). It’s quite amazing how invested you become in these characters when you’ve only really spent a couple hours with them, if that. It’s moments like the one I’ve poorly described above that make these games so worth investing your time into. It can only happen in games that are structured around a strong narrative and well, if anyone knows how to do that..
The mood soon changes though. After a beautifully written sequence, it’s back to the torturous grind as Michonne is once again saving those around her. Again,without going into spoilers, my quite literally dropped to the floor and left me shocked to my core. I wasn’t ready for what came next and I can imagine you won’t see it coming either. The fallout leads into the next episode, and I simply have to know what’s coming next. Either way, I can’t imagine it’s going to be particularly cheerful.
So Give No Shelter overall is a remarkable, emotionally exhausting two hour ride that you’ll not soon forget. The story plays out in unexpected, brutal ways that left me questioning my decisions (as every good TellTale game does) and yet, the overall arc is proving to be deeply harrowing. The narrative brings into question strength in dire circumstance, the power of parenthood and makes you think what you would do in this situation. If you had nothing to lose would you give everything you had? On the flipside, how reckless can you be when you have so much to protect? The purity of innocence in this unforgiving Walking Dead world is explored to its limits. What kind of world are we trying to save for younger generations?
‘Whatever world is left, we have to keep fighting’.
The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 2 – Give No Shelter
Developer/Publisher: TellTale Games
The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 2 – Give No Shelter along with Episode 1 – In Too Deep, is available now for £11.99 on PS4 (reviewed)/PS3 as part of the full season pass which will give you access to all three episodes in the series. The final episode, What We Deserve, will be available in April.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided a review code from the publishers.