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The Walking Dead - Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins

By Bobfish12-08-2014
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)

The Defence

Telltale Games
Telltale Games
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.3 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD equivalent
4 GB
2 GB

The Case

And so we come to the penultimate episode of this tale. It’s been a heart breaking journey, with each hardship merely promising worse to come. Yet, amid the desolation and barbarity, we still find fleeting, precious moments of peace, of hope, that remind us why we keep going - why we must continue, must endure, must survive. So let’s dive right in and see where this ride will take us next.

The Trial

Straight to hell. Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times...too soon? Yeah, probably. Episode 4 picks up right where In Harm’s Way left off; we’re first given the recap of what came before, then there are the sickening sounds of Sarita either being munched by the Walkers trying to give her a hickey or, more likely, by the sound of Clementine hacking off her left arm (the option I chose). That at least gives her a chance of survival right? And it’s damn sure better losing an arm than becoming a flesh hungry beast. Right?

Whichever decision you made in the final moments of the previous episode, it’s no surprise that things don’t go well for poor Sarita. Meanwhile, the rest of the ragtag group have become separated in the herd, left to make their own way out and to hopefully find each other again on the other side. But the most depressing thing about it all is that Clementine, the already world weary little girl, doesn’t even blink. She takes it all in stride. Nobody, child or otherwise, should be so jaded about the world they inhabit.

What do you mean eye patches are for hipsters?!

What do you mean eye patches are for hipsters?!

That remains the primary thematic element of the series, demonstrated better here than in any part previously. Not only has the whole world fallen apart but in the last few weeks, not one or even two, but four groups have come unravelled around her. Sometimes reforming, sometimes gaining and sometimes losing members. Always, always growing more desperate and more lost. But in the middle of it they always find some way to keep fighting, keep hoping and keep pushing forward. This is ultimately what Amid the Ruins focuses on.

Though Clementine remains the star of the show, as well as the player character, Ruins really focuses around the character of Kenny. The loss of yet another loved one, who dies regardless of what you did in Harm, leaves him lost in his own thoughts, as it would anyone. The poor guy just cannot seem to catch a break. He even laments that the beating he took from Carver in the episode prior did not free him from his torment. “Do you know what it’s like being beat to hell?” he asks, before wistfully claiming that it feels like drifting away. Peaceful. And honestly, if anyone has earned some respite, he would be way up there.

But see, Kenny is just one of those kinds of people; he has lost everything - twice, at least - yet despite everything, he’s too tired to give up. He can’t just roll over and let himself give in, because he already has a long, long time ago. Kenny, here, represents the world as a whole: Beaten down, overwhelmed, lost, but never gone because, one way or another, somehow, against all the odds, there will be something on the other side, something else worth fighting for. It is very easy, you see, to find something worth dying for. But it takes real strength to find something worth living for. So what, then, do you live for when there is nothing left?

Watch your back kiddo, it's rough out there.

Watch your back kiddo, it's rough out there.

This is what Ruins is really framing as its message and it’s a powerful message indeed. It is treated with far more care and fragility than we have seen in, well, most any medium. There are contemporaries that have explored the same existential talking points, though none of them have been so effective precisely because this is an interactive journey. We are shown, at the same time, both how integral and how insignificant we, as Clementine, really are. The decisions made do not, ultimately, affect what happens but we’re shown that they can have a profound influence on how it comes to pass and that is something far more poignant because of how small it makes us feel.

We, like everyone and everything else, are simply one small facet of the world we inhabit. Making the most of what we have, doing what we feel we must and just trying to make it to the next day, no matter what it takes. There must be something else, something more, waiting for us eventually; all of this cannot have been for naught. So you push, and fight, and scream and rail against the world, clinging to everything you can, even the bad, because the pain reminds you that you are still alive.

This is a longer episode as well, the longest of any that Telltale have released all year, clocking in at close to two hours, rather than the usual 80/90 minute mark. This is something that will certainly help appease many who have felt that they have been just this side of too short recently. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t feel longer. If anything, it seems to fly by faster than ever before. There is always something happening, mostly conversation, with a few staccato action scenes.

Rawr! Fear my wrath.

Rawr! Fear my wrath.

But it’s the dialogue that continues to develop just about every character still alive, that’s the real backbone of the show. Kenny, of course, takes centre stage; he steps up to be the bright spark that everything else revolves around. He appears as though an avenging angel, forged by the fires and infuriated to the point where he can’t stop until he’s made every one of those mofos pay. He’s going to drag all of them down with him, and he’s taking us along for the ride.

Meanwhile, everything else remains functionally unchanged. It looks like The Walking Dead, sounds like The Walking Dead and plays like The Walking Dead. Though, it may just be me, but it somehow looks just a little bit better than the previous episodes. That could be something as simple as greater variety of colour, but even the detail in faces seems to have been improved from previous Telltale games. Perhaps it is due to the extra month, the episode was in development for, because of the Steam Summer Sale, allowing them to tweak it a little more.

The Verdict

Basically folks, it just don’t get no better than this. There’s a bit of everything: Action, drama, even a brief moment of romance. Most telling of all, some darkly comedic moments to remind us that there is always something to keep us going at the worst of times. There were some very minor texture abnormalities which have been reported in previous episodes, but that I experienced for the first time, though they did nothing to detract from the overall quality and...dat ending man...dayum!

Case Review

  • Clementine: It was never meant to be this way. But what can you do? Just keep fighting.
  • Kenny: The power of beard compels you! Is it obvious he’s my favourite character?
  • Themes: There are games marked as Mature for violence and swears, and there are games that are Mature because they deal with mature subjects. This is both.
  • Visuals: They still look great and, actually, somehow better than ever.
  • Length: Still under two hours, though it is much closer to the mark than previous episodes.
  • Graphical Glitches: Few, probably no more than four times, and that’s the only mark against it.
Score: 5/5
When all hope is lost, Kenny has a kickass beard.


It has been approximately two months since TellTale Games released the third episode of The Walking Dead, Season 2. In Harm’s Way received a mixed reaction from fans, with some loving it and others saying it is the worst in the series so far. I personally thought this was a bit harsh as, while it was the slowest episode as far as action goes, the story was deeper and we learned a lot regarding Clementine and her groups of misfit survivors. Writing about episodic gaming is always tough as you can’t go into a lot details for fear of spoiling the experience.

Amid the Ruins picks up the story precisely where chapter three left off, with Clem in trouble. Those people that said there was not enough action in the previous part won’t be able to say that here. From the beginning there are quite a few action sequences that you need to participate in so that you can get Rebecca and yourself out of danger. We are also introduced to a new character that joins the group and this immediately causes the remaining members to be cautious about the latest addition. On top of the action sequences you find yourself having to make a lot of decisions, including some that are morally questionable (as you’d expect from The Walking Dead).

Like the other episodes we are once again taken on an emotional rollercoaster. And, sure, this season has had its fair share of up’s and down’s, but now we are getting to the end, we can definitely see that the story is building up to one hell of a. It will be interesting to see if the really tough choices you made in this chapter will have any impact on the outcome, as in season one they didn’t really make a big difference. Amid the Ruins is the best yet in the season and possibly the whole series.

Score: 4.5/5
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