Give No Shelter:
Part two of a three part miniseries, Give No Shelter has a lot of work to do to bridge Michonne’s strong opening with a (hopefully) satisfying ending. With so much expected of episode two, it seems Telltale have become overly reliant on their stable of tricks without bringing anything particularly fresh to the rotting table.
Give No Shelter often feels like the rushed version of a story we’ve already heard before. Fans of the Walking Dead – in its various comic, TV and videogame forms – are going to be overly familiar in Michonne’s world this time round. I never thought it would be a problem before, but every obstacle we face, every difficult decision we make and every villain we square off with during the ninety minutes of Michonne’s second episode feel like a simple variant of something I’ve encountered before in The Walking Dead.
Give No Shelter also hurts from Michonne’s status as a mini-series. Events feel rushed, characters aren’t given enough screen time for their fates to matter and – worst of all – the set ups for drama are so forced it neuters your sense of purpose in the world. In a Telltale game I feel I should never be screaming at my character to do something with no option to act.
An incredibly cliché event that turns a situation from bad to worse had me cursing at Michonne to close a door before – inevitably – something burst through it, yet I was never offered an opportunity to intervene. There are plenty of eye-rolling moments like this one to pick at, and bad decision making (and infuriatingly dumb characters) cause irreparable breaks in the immersion of inhabiting Michonne and her world, and devalue the smart game that’s beneath these trite moments of shoehorned exposition.
Aside from this feeling of helplessness that griefed me throughout the chapter, Michonne sung in other ways. The combat was meaty and fluid, and easily make up some of Telltale’s best action scenes. The fights are brutal and engaging, but it was a fantastically choreographed climbing sequence half way through the chapter that really had my heart racing. It’s set pieces like these that are pushing Telltale’s medium closer to a big budget adventure, and I hope they continue evolving.
The conversations and choices this chapter didn’t feel as interesting as the first, and some of Michonne’s badass nature is lost in a more talkative second episode, but overall I really enjoyed delving a little deeper into the characters I was introduced to. Knowing that I won’t have much time before most of them meet a more-than-likely grizzly fate meant I wasn’t quite as invested in the outcomes of said conversations, but Telltale proved they still have a knack for threading interest in even their most seemingly side-lined characters.
Give No Shelter also played very well, with a smooth experience that wasn’t bogged down with any annoying bugs. The animation here was a stand-out, with some excellent character rigging bringing new life to the proceedings.
Michonne’s subtle movements and looks of intent speak volumes even when she herself is quiet, and it’s great to see Telltale really stepping up their game in this department.
Give No Shelter is an overly familiar episode of the Walking Dead. It feels like a rehash of many of Walking Dead’s previous predicaments, choices and villains. Worse still, they’re set up in annoying, unbelievable ways and are hurried along so Michonne can attempt to tell a story her three episodes don’t deserve. It feels like Telltale wanted to tell one of their more traditional, grand adventures but in half the time, and I wish instead they’d realized their constraints and worked to those. In terms of fun gameplay and impressive performances, Telltale are delivering some of their best in the Michonne mini-series, but it all feels a little shallow.