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The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 4: ‘Amid The Ruins’ Review

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Bloodshed and tears; no one is safe. Tension is rising, the group is breaking, lives will be lost and another will be born. It’s never easy saying goodbye, nor is it easy to decide one’s fate. Escaping from the herd of zombies in ‘In Harm’s Way’ is only the beginning of what’s to come next.

Episode 4 picks up from right where it left off; the moment that can damage a close friendship and leave behind a nasty scar. Fights will be fought, leadership will be challenged, and when everything seems to fall, the only thing that will keep them going and hold them together is each other. But then, when it all shatters, who will be the one to pick up the pieces and who will be left in the ruins?

Fallen, but Never Forsaken

Fallen, but Never Forsaken

After making it out of the herd, Jane, Rebecca and Clementine team up and stick together as they journey to the rendezvous point in hopes of reuniting with the group. Although there will be a sense of relief to see a few of the others have made it, that relief will instantly fade and turn into a painful ache as you are brought back to the damaging consequence you have directly or indirectly caused. But that’s not the only thing you need to worry about. Luke, Sarah and Nick (if saved in ‘A House Divided’) are missing and it’s up to you and Jane to find them in time.

Friendships will be tested, new lessons will be taught, and with Rebecca’s baby on the way, the group are forced to come together during this tense time. The question is, will it make them, or will it break them? Tough decisions must be made, testing your moral choices, and not everyone will make it.

Prepare for the unknown, the unexpected and the undead as you embark on a new chapter to find safe ground. But just when you think you’ve found it, a new threat presents itself. Trust is a whole new game and there’s no way out of what’s to come next. Let’s just say it will end with a ‘bang’.

The Harshness of Reality

The Harshness of Reality

It’s fair to say ‘Amid The Ruins’ is the best episode yet in Season 2. It’s well balanced in terms of action, dialogue and exploring, as well as overall time of gameplay. We see a lot more character development from each character  especially Jane  as they show a new side during this climatic and chaotic time. Responsibility is at an all time high, and with some not in the right head-space, certain duties will be ignored that could cost the whole group their lives, as well as their reliability.

Helping those in need is definitely this episode’s main theme as quite a few scenes primarily focus around a statue of a man carrying and helping another: the fallen. It’s quite symbolic and plays an important part in the terms of the choices you make and the storyline. Doing what’s ‘right’ is always left to interpretation, and this episode proves that even when making an ethical choice, it won’t always feel right and it won’t always be easy.

As far as choices, there are a couple that will leave your brain tugging in separate directions as you choose between two tough decisions  one that’s tempting and another that’s risky. Your pragmatism, compassion, selflessness and survivalism will be tested along with your loyalties once again. With the cracks in the group growing deeper and more apparent, where you stand and who you will stand beside is up to you. But don’t be surprised if playing favouritism creates further tension in the group.

New Hope

New Hope

Although this is a thoroughly enjoyable and eventful episode, it does have its minor drawbacks. Throughout most scenes, Clementine will play the ‘adult’ when it comes to cooling down arguments and picking up other characters’s slack.

In one segment with Bonnie and Mike, you will find them standing around and staring at things in the museum instead of looting the area and finding supplies. As soon as Clementine arrives, she finds everything, does almost everything and still gets treated like a baby by Bonnie who doesn’t do a thing. It felt as though that part of the episode was added in for extra play time, but it does include a moment when Clementine thinks about Lee and witnesses the nature and survivalism of wildlife  moments you can appreciate.

The main choices disappointingly don’t affect much, but the main drawback for me was that the choice that tests your compassion doesn’t change the outcome at the end of the episode; it remains the exact same. Hopefully in Episode 5 the result of that choice comes into play and could cost you or reward you, otherwise it would serve no purpose. After all, consequences will make things more intense and interesting, especially if it costs you the group.

Clementine

Overall, ‘Amid The Ruins’ is by far my favourite episode this season. It’s strong, emotional, eventful and entertaining that ends with another cliffhanger  one that will leave you wanting more. And with the storyline taking a new direction and remaining strong, what happens next and what will happen in the Season Finale is anyone’s guess. Who will make it out alive and who will be left behind?

The end is closing in, none of your favourite characters are safe, and with your choices locked in, the road to safe haven could just be the deadliest choice of all. There’s no turning back.

No Turning Back

Stephanie is an aspiring novelist who loves writing—both fiction and non-fiction—and enjoys editing. Having graduated from University studying Professional Writing and Editing, she continues to do what she loves most: writing novels, short stories and poetry, as well as writing and editing articles for the site and listening to her favourite band, Linkin Park. But apart from writing, there is one other primary passion of hers. Video games. From playing Monkey Island on Microsoft DOS, to Doom, Mario, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, her love for video games became a part of her life at a young age and they always will be.

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198X Review — A Nostalgia Trip Without a Destination

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198X

Some short stories feel more like chapters—snipped out of a larger work—that struggle to make sense on their own. 198X represents a translation of that ethos to video game form. As a result, the game feels unfulfilling, though that does not detract from the overall quality on offer. Ultimately, the player’s appraisal of 198X will depend on whether they place more stock in story or gameplay because while the former leaves much to be desired, the latter will be a hit for anyone with fond memories of the 8- and 16-bit classics.

In the framing and overall structure, 198X is decidedly modern, but everything else pulses with a retro vibe. At its core, the game is a compilation, weaving together five distinct experiences under the auspice of a story of personal development. From the Double Dragon-infused ‘Beating Heart’ to the turn-based dungeon RPG ‘Kill Screen’, each title feels slick, if a little undercooked. Those old-school originals could only dream of being as smooth as these throwbacks. However, the two-button input methodology results in the games feeling just a touch too simple, though their brevity—each clocking in at a maximum of 15 minutes (depending on the player’s skill level and muscle memory)—makes that less of an issue than it might have been. If more depth is present, it is hidden well, as the game lacks any sort of tutorial to guide players. Nevertheless, the stellar presentation goes a long way towards papering over the cracks.

The pixel art aesthetic of 198X is staggering. Each of the worlds that players make their way through is pitched perfectly to fit the mood it evokes. From the grungy brawler of the first game to the more melancholic mood of the open-road racer, the screen is drenched in lavish colour and far more detail than one might expect from such a seemingly simple art style.

Easily a match for the visuals is the audio. The in-game sounds of a car engine or bone-crunching strike are low-key, which allows the music to come to the fore. Those tunes are all from the electronic genre, simple, yet layered with enough depth to not feel tedious or tiring. Easily overshadowing all the rest though is Maya Tuttle’s voice-over narration as The Kid. Her tone is one of pervasive resignation that works to reinforce the same mood within the script.

That melancholia will surely strike a chord with anyone who has grown up on the fringes. The Kid speaks of once loving and now hating the Suburbia of their childhood, where memories of happiness collide with a contemporary feeling of entrapment. The words and lines are powerfully evocative—made even more so by the connection between the gameworlds and the prevailing emotion at that point. The problem is that they amount to nothing. The story comprises of these snippets—these freestanding scenes of life lived lonely—that never coalesce into anything. The Kid may find an arcade and speak of finding some sort of home and a source of strength, but it goes nowhere. The game ends just as things start to get interesting. Setting up for a sequel is no sin. Plenty of other games and media products—from Dante’s Inferno to Harry Potter—have done just that. However, to be effective, such first parts need to offer a story in and of themselves, not just the promise of a story to come, and that is where 198X falls apart.

With each game in the compilation being a straightforward, one-and-done affair and the overarching narrative feeling like a prologue at best, 198X is wafer-thin. The presentation is simply remarkable, and the package has enough variety to be worth a look, but the unmistakable impression is that something is missing.

OnlySP Review Score 2 Pass

Reviewed on PC. Coming soon to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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