Fair warning: Spoilers abound concerning Telltale's
The Walking Dead game series, particularly Episode 4. If you plan on playing through, I highly suggest you stop reading now and get to that...
Great! Now keep reading.
I climbed the attic steps slowly, the silence building that same feeling of dread you have come to expect from Telltale Games' excellent episodic adventure series. I found myself surprised at the lack of gnashing teeth and flailing limbs attempting to rend Lee Everett's flesh, instead finding a quite sullen Kenny, watching something on the other side of the attic. Getting a better view revealed a rather brittle and broken child-turned-walker – hardly a threat physically to the two men that have faced countless hardship over three episodes. No, this meager figure was meant to instill pain of a different kind to the player. Why was it, then, that I could only think to myself. “Didn't I do this in the last episode?”
The entirety of this scene felt like it was trudging along at a walker's pace, though not in a good way. Spot the kid, realize what has to be done, choose who does it, and that's that. While not exactly to the letter, it felt close enough to the rather excellent Duck scene in Episode 3 that I merely wanted to hurry up and get to the next point. It wasn't until nearly the end of the episode that it finally hit me: I was seriously apathetic to the act of killing and burying a child. What the hell was wrong with me?
Though it may be only a game, I've agonized over decisions and dreaded the consequences, wondering who would be offed next and if group members would still stand by my side. I even got to the point of questioning if Clementine would continue to trust me and stay by my side, and that was in the very same episode where I wasn't moved by having to bury a child that I killed, even if he was infected. It wasn't until later that one line from Vernon, the doctor, made me realize how freaking brilliant it all was:
“You wanna know the worst part?... I don't feel much. I mean, I don't feel enough. Shouldn't I be broken up over what happened...?”
After enough deaths, mishaps, tragedies, and betrayals, it's not unreasonable to think that these characters would eventually become numb to the shock and pain of it all. To think that Telltale managed to cause the exact same effect to me, the player, was a truly astounding feat on their part. The fact that I could still get those tense moments and tough decisions (including, in my opinion, some of the best in the series so far) along with this wild fourth wall-breaking experience was icing on the cake.
So, you wanna know the best part? I feel a lot. I mean, I feel probably too much. Shouldn't I be less enthused considering all that's happened? The answer to that question is not at all. I couldn't be more excited for the finale. I am curious as to how all of you that have made it this far feel, as well as if you're in the same boat as I am.