The Walking Dead Season 2 – Episode 5: No Going Back Review
Note: Though this review is spoiler-free, there might be some minor spoilers regarding the events of Episode 5. Proceed at your own risk.
Coming off of a slow, filler fourth episode with Amid The Ruins, Telltale Games was looking to close out the second season of its episodic The Walking Dead adventure with Episode 5: No Going Back. Though it isn’t as impactful as Season 1’s finale, No Going Back is still a satisfying episode filled with big moments that are sure to get you excited for the recently announced third season.
No Going Back does not waste any time getting into intense moments as it only takes place seconds after the end of Episode 4. Chaos is the main theme of this chapter and you can feel it right from the opening minutes. The group is still struggling to find harmony within its members and tensions are starting to get really high. As Clementine, your role in this episode is to try and keep every group member satisfied and at peace because some of them are in a really dark, scary state of mind after everything that has happened. What is fascinating about Clementine’s character in Season 2 and especially in Episode 5 is how her presence alone can change the entire atmosphere of the group. She went from being a scared, passive child to a strong female lead. And, by the end of Episode 5, this aspect will really stand out as she’ll be put through situations she has never been through before. Though, as much as she tries to stay strong, she will be brought to her breaking point with everything that happens over the course of Season 2’s hour and a half finale.
Episode 5 is a much more passive episode in terms of gameplay. Character conversations are the main focus of the episode as Clementine tries to keep the group in harmony. Zombie encounters aren’t as frequent as they were in previous episodes and don’t last very long either. Most of the episode will be spent talking to group members as you explore their emotions and struggles with survival. Now more than ever, Episode 5 feels a lot more like an interactive story than a video game, but that doesn’t mean it is dull in any way. There are plenty of Oh my god moments within No Going Back as heartbreaking and emotionally-frustrating choices will have to be made by the player. Characters will be hated, choices will be put in question and the player will feel like he did not make the right call in the end. But, then again, that’s what Telltale’s The Walking Dead has been all about since the very beginning. One thing’s for sure, Clementine will never be the same going forward.
One particular story element that is really appreciated from this episode is that it takes its time to explore the backgrounds of some of the group members. It is a breath of fresh air to hear them talk about what they were doing before everything went down and it lets the player enjoy the human aspect of those characters; they’ll laugh at each other, remember events that have previously happened, all for a moment without having to worry about surviving. It removes the sense of dread for a little while, but it quickly shifts back to the reality that this group is broken and, despite numerous attempts to keep it together, it will crumble ultimately. That element is probably the least enjoyable part of No Going Back; the characters argue way too much with each other and nothing really changes despite Clementine’s will to keep it together. By the end of the episode, you’ll feel like this was a massive waste of time because it does not affect the closing events that much at all.
Unlike Amid The Ruins, No Going Back is not forcing any sequences to keep things happening within the episode. There are a lot of slow moments in Season 2’s finale, but they all have their own place within the story arc. In fact, without those slow moments, the bigger ones wouldn’t have been as unexpected or surprising as they are and it would’ve changed the overall pace of the episode. There is a great balance with the action and static moments that will keep the player on his toes constantly. And, that’s one thing The Walking Dead franchise has always been good at.
Episode 5: No Going Back opens up the possibilities for Season 3 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. While this is probably the episode with the highest amount of difficult choices to make, they are not as emotionally impactful as they were in the end of the first season. Despite being the most passive episode of the season in terms of gameplay, No Going Back is a satisfying end to Season 2 as all the characters will be forced to do something that will either disturb you or make you angry. Clementine’s character goes through yet another big change in her personality and who knows what the future holds up for her in Season 3.