Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Format: iOS, Android, PC, Mac, PS3, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One
Released: March 29, 2016
Coming off the intense cliffhanger of The Walking Dead: Michonne premiere, In Too Deep, Give No Shelter, wastes no time getting going. Rounding the halfway point, Telltale’s Michonne led miniseries’ second installment is a rushed and ultimately disappointing continuation of the strong heroine’s adventures away from the core group. The pieces necessary to form something great are all here, it’s just they aren’t in the right places at the right time. What hurts Give No Shelter substantially, is its short and somewhat uneventful runtime. Knowing the potential this section of the canon timeline is overflowing with, makes Give No Shelter’s shortcomings all the more consequential. Episode one set this entry up to run with something of substance, yet rather than doing so, episode two manages to be far less interesting than the inefficient introduction that laid the groundwork. Depending on the final set of choices you made at the end of the premiere, Michonne and company are faced with escaping the captivity of a hostile group of survivors. It’s a tense opener and a great way to get things rolling. However, not long after making a break for it, the overly simplistic character archetypes and narrative beats begin to consume the episode. The most complex thing about the miniseries is still Michonne, but considering the tired nature of the plot around her, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the prior knowledge of Michonne from the comics that is carrying these episodes. Seeing behind the curtain of Michonne’s past and the events in particular that haunt her, are strong moments, yet they’re surround by a routine zombie story without much nuance.
The most disappointing element of Give No Shelter was its inability to present compelling side characters. Whereas past installments in Telltale’s Walking Dead efforts were driven purely off of characters and the unfolding dynamics that make them interesting, this miniseries seems incapable of fleshing out fully dimensional cast members. Take Pete for example, Michonne’s closest apocalyptic companion at this juncture in time. He’s completely predictable with little to offer in terms of narrative strengthening, contributing absolutely nothing insightful to the matters at hand. Much of Pete’s weaknesses ring true for the rest of the cast as well, with everyone embodying idealist characteristics that restrict them from expanding. Even the villains lack compelling motives, other than simply just being sinister. This shallowness held me back from investing in anybody aside from Michonne, making the episode feel like a traumatic and somewhat emotionally empty section of Michonne’s time away from Rick and the rest of the group.Conclusion: In the same way In Too Deep, was a fair opening for the miniseries, Give No Shelter acts as a passable middle point. There’s nothing notable here aside from Michonne herself. The episode’s best moments–much like the first–show themselves near the finale, creating for a crowded conclusion. It’s a disruptive, yet satisfying way to bring the episode to a close, especially considering the rest of the episode goes along without many pivotal moments worth dedicating much investment to. The fact it’s so short doesn’t lend any help to its cause either, leaving Michonne to carry the whole episode on her back, once again. Supporting cast members fail to step up to the plate, and while they might get their chance to, in the third and final episode, Give No Shelter shows very little confidence that they will. Just as the first episode, I’m left conflicted with Michonne’s miniseries. As a leading character, Michonne works well, it’s just everything around her that needs refining. Odds are, we won’t see a paradigm shift of such magnitude, but akin to the fading hope survivors of the stark portrayal of society fight for everyday, even a glimmer is something worth holding onto.
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