The Illusion of Choice
I realized this too. I really want to remind Telltale of their claim: That this game is advertised as being shaped at how I play it.
So why is it that this episode gets rid of the only greater choice-induced story difference already?
In episode 1, we could either save Carley or Doug. And suddenly, both die at the very beginning of episode 3 because the plot demands for Lilly to lose it. Without any control by the player.
OK, I get it. Bad stuff does happen to good people beyond their control all the time. Yet shouldn't the death of Carley/Doug only be one of multiple outcomes depending on how you talked to Lilly and the group before? At least we could have got a non-standard game-over when you took the blame for stealing the supplies.
I want for this game to reflect my choices more. To really take them into account. Not just by stating that somebody will remember what I said. Which then often only results in a slightly different throw-away line that does not really change anything.
I very much do want very different outcomes due to my choices.
Instead, Telltale just hit the reset button, and nullified all my choices.
It does not matter what I have chosen in the past, the remaining group is quite the same independent from my choices. This is not what I have signed up for :-(
I do not want to decide if I or Kenny shoot Duck as long as the end result is the same. Instead, depending from my choices, it should be determined if Duck gets bitten in the first place!
I get there are limits to branching off the game paths, as there is a huge development overhead for each branch, that grows exponentially with each further choice. And maybe Telltale does not want to make content that only 10% of their players will see. But that is exactly what I want! An almost individualized experience. I want to be able to talk with my friends about my play-through and want to have my mind blown about the differences, and not realize how rail-roaded the game is in the end.
I would be willing to pay for such a game, double, tripple even. Even if it meant shorter play time for one play through. (Yet replayability would be high.) I cannot tell how much I want a game in which decisions really affect the story line. For me, it's something this medium could really excel at, but was only seldom tried. (The classic RPGs come to mind. The closest recent endeavor was The Witcher series, even with all those games' flaws. In the Witcher 2, the whole second chapter was completely different depending on one big choice. Mass Effect also had potential to greatness, but they blew it with the ending in the last one.)
Right now, I expect the rail-roading of the storyline in TWD to continue. Only giving us choices that at best will determine how something but not what happens. And if we are lucky we will have a few multiple endings. (Please let there be multiple endings.)
Yet I do not believe anymore that this game is shaped by how I play it. It simply is another game that gives the illusion of choice only to move forward in only one direction.