Since the release of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, fans of the comic book and television series have wondered what it would be like to play the game as the characters they know and love, instead of protagonists like Lee and Clementine. While the characters originally created for the video game have become popular in their own right, none of them are as popular as the blade wielding Michonne. Due to the popularity of the graphic novel and the television series, Michonne has become somewhat of a cultural icon. Armed with a sword that would put popular video game ninjas such as Ryu Hayabusa and Strider to shame, Michonne is under the control of the player in Telltale’s latest adventure, the appropriately titled The Walking Dead – Michonne.
Episode 2 carries the subtitle ‘Give No Shelter’ and picks up where Episode 1 left off, not only in terms of sequence, but in terms of the episodes giving players a similar feel. ‘Give No Shelter’ puts Michonne in with a group of supporting characters who feel like nothing more than set pieces. This is a game about Michonne, set in a period of time when she was away from Rick and the rest of her group. Players go into the series knowing that eventually she will return to the group, so there’s no real danger of dying; and completely aware of the fact that the main character is a total badass. The former makes it slightly difficult for either episode 1 or 2 to feel like much of a game, the latter makes the player feel incredibly powerful.
As mentioned earlier, the characters Michonne interacts with are forgetful at best. For most of them, the only reason they exist is to either get in the lead character’s way or to be a burden for her to attempt to protect. The fact that these characters lack any real depth means that players don’t have to invest any time or energy caring whether they live or die. The only time it makes sense to care about a supporting character is when Michonne’s backstory, told through flashbacks, relates to one of them to some degree. Any similarities between people from Michonne’s past and the characters she meets in episode 2 feel forced, and they are easy to ignore.
Despite the lack of importance of these characters, The Walking Dead: Michonne is still fun to play. This is specifically noted in the action sequences of episode 2, just as in the previous episode. Because episode 1 had to include setting and character introduction, episode 2 is able to jump right into things and the story masterfully mixes the dialogue driven narrative with plenty of punching, kicking, and sword slicing. Multiple characters meet their demise by the end of the episode, and some of the death dealing can even be done by Michonne. Fortunately, all the action seems to serve a purpose; at the end of episode 2, Michonne is on the eve of an inevitable conflict and there doesn’t appear to be any way out other than to fight. As mentioned earlier, most of the characters are forgettable and it’s easy not to care about them. The same cannot be said for two specific antagonists who give the player well enough reason to want to slice them in half.
Unfortunately, the gameplay suffers sometimes in the transition from story to action. Everything is in the right place, the transitions feel natural, and just when you have had enough dialogue, an action segment is about to begin. However, there are some technical miscues. For instance, much of the action requires the player to lead Michonne and others toward or away from a conflict, but the buttons required are often nonsensical: Michonne may be facing right, but to move forward and away from a group of walkers the player may have to hold up on the analog stick instead of right. Failure to properly identify cardinal directions affects how engaged players will be in the game, because every time you press a button and it doesn’t work, it takes you away from the story and gameplay. Fortunately, the game’s soundtrack helps to set the mood for many situations and it is particularly noteworthy in episode 2.
Miscues aside, Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Michonne’s second episode is worth more than one play-through just to see what will happen differently based on the player’s choices. Additionally, if you have yet to play episode 1, I would recommend you do so. Even considering some of the negatives mentioned above, The Walking Dead – Michonne is shaping up to be some of the developer’s best work.
The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 2
Fun action segments
Issues with cardinal directions
Flat supporting characters