I doubt Telltale Games meant this, but Long Road Ahead could be a metaphor for the long road between episode releases.
Telltale said July 5, 2012, ‘For many of you, the most important thing is to let you know when the next episode (Episode 3: Long Road Ahead) will be available, and although we can't give you an exact date at this time, we can say that episode three will be ready in the middle of August’.
Telltale said August 10, ‘In July, we let everyone know that we were hard at work on Episode Three – Long Road Ahead, and our aim has been to have it ready towards the middle of August. Some of you may have thought this meant a hard date of August 15th, but we wanted to be as clear as we could to let you know the latest news on the release date. The team has finished play-testing and tuning, and we’re nearing final submission to our partners for certification on digital platforms.’
The middle of August is August 13 to August 17, but despite this elastic self-imposed deadline, Telltale failed to meet it.
Telltale said August 22, ‘We're expecting to have some anxiously awaited release date news in the near future for Episode Three - Long Road Ahead’. ‘Near future translated to waiting for the August 27 Episode Three announcement.
I do not share the anger that seems widespread in the Telltale blog comments about episode release times. I am curious what is happening at Telltale that is responsible for these delays. Are the digital platforms taking longer than expected to certify an episode? Was there an unexpected glitch in an episode that required more time to fix? I believe the vocal anger may subside if some explanation is given.
Hopefully, Episode 4: Around Every Corner will not become a metaphor for Around Every Corner is a delay.
Onto Episode Three itself which may be the most traumatic episode so far.
It starts with Kenny and Lee returning to the pharmacy for supplies. A screaming woman attracts walkers. Kenny says let her distract the walkers or I can kill her to stop her from becoming a walker. I tried to shoot the walkers so she could escape to no avail. I didn’t want to kill an innocent woman. She could have escaped. There have been many close calls with Lee and walkers. I did not want to deny her a chance to escape. I didn’t like Kenny’s let-her-die attitude. In the future, maybe he will consider leaving me, Clementine, or another teammate behind.
Once in the pharmacy I noticed at the bottom of the screen that time bar that shortens at both ends during some conversations, so I grabbed everything as fast as I could do so.
Once back at the Motor Inn, Kenny and Lilly argue again about staying or leaving. I agree with Kenny that we should plan on leaving. As experienced in Episode 2 and reinforced in this episode, supplies are rapidly dwindling. There was almost nothing left in the pharmacy after Kenny and I grabbed nearly everything. I understand the fear of leaving a fortified location with running water, but eventually the group has to move or starve.
Shortly after the dispute, Carley suggest that I tell people about my past, so that it does not become a problem in the future. I agree with her. The group tension is rising and I don’t want to be the one that causes the group to fracture. I tell everyone my past and, surprisingly, no one seems too upset. Clementine understands. Kenny’s says that may cost me a spot in a boat if there are not enough spots, but he appreciates my honesty. Katjaa seems okay, but more interested in what happened in the meat locker. I tell her and then she seems more upset with how her husband Kenny is becoming more brutal. Ben is shocked and didn’t know what to say. Lilly said she suspected something because Larry warned her, but she forgave me. I tried to save her father despite his bad treatment of me, so she saw the good in me.
Then, Lilly says there is a traitor who is stealing supplies. I find pink chalk markings. That worries me. I think it could be a sign like ‘attack this place’. Eventually, I find a bag in a grate with medical supplies. Lilly considers theft equivalent to killing someone in their sleep. She asks what would happen to Clementine if she became ill and we could not help her because some stole the medicine. This is an emotionally powerful argument, but there is a difference between killing and letting die. Still, I didn’t have too much time to think about this because bandits overrun the Motor Inn and force everyone outside onto their knees. I guess Ben was not the best lookout.
I temporarily become an unarmed hostage negotiator who stops the execution of the others. Lilly picks off a few of the bandits and I shoot the last one in the back. I thought that was it, but then more came from the forest. After getting everyone into the RV, we leave.
Lilly is angry because of an unidentified traitor. She publicly accuses Carley and Ben. I ask for her evidence, but she only has suspicion. I understand her anger, but without evidence pointing it to someone, it is paranoia. She could have staged the theft to blame a hated group member.
Kenny runs over a walker, so we have stop on the roadside to deal with it. Lilly continues her accusations. I don’t think this was the best time. We are not too far from the bandits and walkers left behind. There could be more bandits and walkers in the woods alongside the road. A loud argument in the evening in open territory does not seem like a good idea, but she keeps arguing. I try to calm her, but after Carley insults her, Lilly headshots Lilly.
I was shocked at her overreaction. I was also disappointed. I tried to save her dad and give her the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but she betrayed our friendship over a temporary emotional flare-up and now a team member is dead because of it. I so wanted to kill her or leave her, but I thought about group survival. The whole group was nearly wiped out due to bandits and walkers. A smaller group might not have been so fortunate. Lilly, despite her unjustified murder, can still be a valuable team member. I don’t want her on my team, but when my survival, Clementine’s survival, and the larger group’s survival depends on cooperation with unpleasant people, even very bad people, I lean toward survival. I thought I could punish Lilly later. Safety first and justice soon after. Maybe Lilly could have been walked into the woods and shot dead later, but this did not happen.
While in the RV Kenny and Katjaa disclose that Duck was bitten on his leg. I am not worried because Ben said that death, not the bite, it what causes one to become a walker. I hug Clementine and try to ease her anxiety. In a quick dream sequence, Clementine is a walker in the RV and attacks me which I found unexpected and scary. The dream sequence reinforced the consequence of failing to protect Clementine.
The RV stops in the front of a train. After exploring the cargo area, I find a map that says the train is headed where Kenny’s boat is located and I give a water bottle to Katjaa who uses it to treat dehydrated Duck. At the front of the train, I find the engine instructions that I cannot read. Clementine tells me that there is a pencil in the RV. I enter the RV, get the pencil, and Lilly, who removed her restraints, says she is leaving. I told her not to move. She asked me to join her in taking the RV and driving away. For a moment, I thought that after losing a romantic possibility with Carley, I could gain one with Lilly, but my focus was on her past conduct, not on future romance. I declined her offer, she kicked me out of the RV, and drove off. I doubt that if I said I wanted to go with her that she would take me because that would be too much of a story change. Still, where does she plan to go? The RV has limited gas. She is driving back toward the overrun Motor Inn and, as Kenny notes after she leaves, the radiator is weak, so she won’t get far.
Suddenly, Charles (a homeless drinker who prefers to be called Chuck) appears. He gets along with the group and seems friendly, but after the St. John Brothers and Lilly’s behavior, I am suspicious of strangers and longtime teammates. After reentering the train control area, I use the pencil to explain the train’s controls on the clipboard. I get the train started, but it won’t move because of a bolt holding the two trains together. I remove the bolt and the game continues.
Before continuing, I am curious about the car next to the train with a walker stuck in a seat due to a seatbelt. I have tried and failed to kill this walker. I can’t shoot him because he is too loud. I have tried to kill him with various melee weapons I got off the train but those did not work. After I unbuckled the walker, I was not given the option to strike the walker with any melee weapon. I just died and then restarted to where the walker is about to attack me and I die again. Restart and die over and over. I broke this cycle by exiting the game and restarting from an earlier part of Episode 3. This should be fixed. Maybe there is nothing useful in the car, but still, the walker should be killable.
After the train gets rolling, we all move along, but shortly after going, Duck begins to look deathly sick. The skin around his eye sockets darken just like the walker who attacked Katjaa at the motor inn. Over time, his skin darkens as well. Katjaa asks me to get Kenny. I do so. I politely tell Kenny that Katjaa needs him. I am utterly calm and polite with Kenny, but despite that and all my past loyalty to him he beats me pretty bad. I tried to fight back, but I didn’t seem to have the option to strike him. I realized too late that I had to click his fist to stop him. After punching a tactful messenger, he emotionally breaks down, admitting that he doesn’t know what to do. He was such a tough guy in the meat locker about doing what was necessary, but when it came to his family he struggles with the choice.
After the train stops, Kenny and Katjaa come to understand that either Duck must be killed or become a walker. I remain silent during this discussion. I was not eager to suggest that either I or one of Duck’s parents be Duck’s executioner. Making that call is especially likely to be used against me later.
Katjaa volunteers to kill Duck. A gunshot is heard and birds fly away. As I walk with Kenny to Kajtaa, I speculate that she may have killed herself because she could not live without her son. A few seconds later, that pessimistic prediction is confirmed, Kenny is grieving, and I am staring at an ailing Duck who I am hoping will not suddenly lunge at Kenny or me. I pass the decision to kill Duck to Kenny. I gently encourage him to pull the trigger and he does. With tears streaming down his cheeks, we return to the train.
The group has gotten much smaller. Carley was killed, Lilly fled, Kajtaa committed suicide, and Duck killed.
Once back on the train, Chuck rudely, at minimum, tells Clementine that she will die. He has good reason to believe this, but there was no need to instill dread in an already traumatized child. Excluding this comment, Chuck did make good points. He suggested cutting Clemetine’s hair so she would be harder to grab and to train her to use a gun. He asked what plan I had. I said the boat. Unimpressed, he asked if I didn’t know that other people already tried that. That thought didn’t cross my mind until he mentioned it probably because there has been so many other issues I have been considering. What if Kenny’s boat was stolen? What if it was damaged? What if other boaters siphoned gas from his boat? Kenny’s plan seemed to be close to a fantasy. I realized that I have no other plan. The Motor Inn is finished. The boat, while risky, seems like the last option. We could search Savannah, but as Macon demonstrated, searching a town infested with walkers is very perilous. At least in Macon, the survivors somewhat knew the area and where items were located. In Savannah, as far as I know, nobody knows where anything is located.
After talking to Chuck, I try to walk to the back of the train, but experience a glitch where I see the forest on the side of the train, but not the tracks or the train. A fellow gamer uploaded the glitch on YouTube. Please, fix it, Telltale. After restarting my game at a previous save, I got past the glitch.
I trained Clementine how to fire a weapon and cut her hair. After teaching her how to use a gun, I thought doing so was probably a waste of bullets. I grab a bottle of booze and proceed to return to the front of the train. Ben stops me and admits that he betrayed the group after repeatedly denying that allegation when confronted by Lilly. He says he cooperated with the bandits because he falsely believed they held a friend of his captive. I felt like punching Ben so hard that he would fall off the train. Assuming his explanation to be true, he should have told the group and we could have attempted a rescue mission or a negotiation or something. To secretly negotiate with bandits and siphon our supplies after Lee and Kenny rescued him is an unforgivable betrayal. He may not have been malicious, only foolish, but that is irrelevant. With Ben in my group, who needs enemies? He’s not guilty of murder like Lilly, but I want to exclude him from the group.
The train stopped now because a gas tanker, tangling from a highway, blocked the route. Atop the highway were two strangers, Omid and Christa. As Lee climbs the ladder to speak with them, they stop arguing about something. Whatever it is, I am suspicious. Congratulations, TellTale you have made me suspicious of everyone. Now you will have to work very hard to surprise me because my trust in others has fallen to near zero. Omid seemed too excited to see a child, Clementine. I am wondering if he is a cult member/cannibal/pedophile/other bad thing, so I don’t trust him.
We agree to help remove the obstacle. I go to a nearby train station with Clementine who helps me get in. She fails to kill a single walker with the gun she holds. I understand she is a child and is afraid, but I doubt she will save my life with a pistol at this point. Christa appears and questions my protection of Clementine. I trust her with me and not a stranger, so I don’t care much for what Christa says. Almost anywhere is unsafe for Clementine. At least when she is with me, I can try to protect her.
I grab a propane tank attached to a blow torch and head back to the dangling tanker. I almost cut in down, but then Ben starts yelling about numerous approaching walkers. Omid finishing cutting the truck and the train moves forward. Omid reluctantly jumps onto the train after me, but falls off and injures his leg. After being saved by Christa, I quickly pick one running alongside the train to grab and pull aboard. Christa blames me for saving her, but Omid makes it on as well by himself.
I expected a series of final conversations with many characters before the episode ends, like the prior episodes. Instead, in an unexpected surprise, I learn Clementine has been secretly been speaking to some over her working radio that promises to have her parents. The unidentified voice also tells Clementine not to tell Lee. Now I don’t trust Clementine. In the preview for Episode 4: Around Every Corner, which seemed much shorter that prior previews, Clementine refused to identify who she is speaking to on the radio, so now I am more confident in not trusting Clementine. Who is left to trust? Chuck? He knows what he’s doing, but I don’t know him to well. Omid is a coward with a limp. Christa, when I asked her to disclose her baggage if she sought to remain part of the group, said she would prefer to leave the group, so I don’t trust her. Ben is untrustworthy. Clementine is probably being emotionally manipulated by the radio speaker, trusting the promise to find her parents more than Lee. Her divided loyalties between Lee and the unidentified speaker make her unreliable. I am left with Kenny. I don’t always agree with him, but he has not left me to die and seems trustworthy. In the end, he seems like my last option. If I had to choose my team for next episode, it would be Lee, Kenny, Chuck, and Clementine.
What do you think of Episode 3 and the upcoming Episode 4?