The Walking Dead: Michonne, Episode 2 – ‘Give No Shelter’ Review (PC)
Exploring the tragic and mysterious history of The Walking Dead's Michonne sounded like a great idea when Telltale Games announced its mini-series. Finally, we'd get to see things from the perspective of one of the comics' most intriguing and deadly characters. However, the first episode of The Walking Dead: Michonne was fairly rudimentary and didn't quite break narrative ground in the way we'd hoped it would. Still, with two episodes remaining, there was hope Telltale had something new to say in this world and about this character. The Walking Dead: Michonne's second episode, "Give No Shelter," manages to give a bit more insight into our protagonist's past and motivations, even if it still feels like we've been down this road before.
This episode's action is limited, but once again shows how adept Michonne has become at ensuring her survival. The quicktime events that have been a staple of the Telltale brand have always been fairly simple to pull off, but in controlling Michonne, you actually feel like a complete boss in the apocalypse. Killing may not be easy for her to do, but her skills are impressive and you feel every ounce of her abilities even by just pushing one or two buttons. So many of Telltale's games have relied on nearly identical combat formulas, but TWD: Michonne is the first time you do feel like a character's strengths in this area are being honestly portrayed.
Where the first episode spent so much time setting things up for this adventure, "Give No Shelter" allows us to settle in a bit, and get to know Michonne. There are hints of the ghosts that haunt her throughout, but it's the quieter moments with Sam's family and Pete that deliver the kind of characterization that's made Telltale's games so memorable. A lengthy flashback gives some incredibly sad honesty to Michonne's demeanor, even all the way back to her first appearance in the comics. You get a much better sense of how she became the silent, guarded assassin she is today from this episode. You also better understand the reasoning behind her quest for the truth. For too long the mystery of what's happened to her children has plagued her. You want her to find the answers, not just so you can have them, but so that she can finally perhaps gain some closure after all these years.
"Give No Shelter" features exactly the kind of storytelling that's made Telltale such a force these days. There are some truly heart-wrenching moments, and even if you weren't invested in Michonne's life before, the way her pain and sorrow is brought to life will make you care. The way her past is echoed in the present with Sam's family only serves to strengthen the bond between the player and Michonne. She's always been a favorite character of ours, but that's merely based on how confident and powerful she's been in the comics. Seeing this side of her gives us a new appreciation for just how much she's had to endure, and how she's able to cope in this mad, mad world.
As strong as the character moments are, "Give No Shelter" still doesn't present much new in the overall plot department. It's hard to come up with angles that haven't been seen before, as the comic proper can attest, but that so much of the game's plot feels like a cover version of a song we've heard before does dull the brighter moments just a bit. Suprisingly, for the first time since early in Telltale's The Walking Dead history we were legitimately shocked by some events in this episode. You should never let your guard down in the zombie apocalypse, and when you do you better be prepared to pay the consequences. We sure did.
Finally learning more about Michonne is something many fans have been looking forward to for years. Telltale spends a lot of time this installment fleshing out Michonne, which is terrific, but that character development comes at the expense of a strong core narrative. Some of the events in this chapter feel a bit forced, and the cliffhanger sets up for a climax that doesn't feel entirely earned. That said, "Give No Shelter" is an improvement over the first chapter, which to be honest, wasn't that hard. Hopefully Telltale can continue riding this upward trend for the finale, and deliver a satisfying conclusion worthy of its protagonist.
This review is based on a download of The Walking Dead: Michonne, Episode 2 - "Give No Shelter" provided by the publisher for PC.