The Walking Dead EP11: A Salt and Battery

By Shamus
on Dec 22, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

128 comments


Link (YouTube)

So we’re trapped in a freezer. Larry is having some sort of unspecified heart trouble. He might die. Me might already be effectively dead. If he dies, then after some unknown (but short) interval he will rise again as zombiehulk. Lilly is performing CPR on him and wants help. Kenny wants to bash his brains in with one of these salt bricks.

So… what do you do?

The problem here is that the situation is constructed around a few common misconceptions regarding heart failure and CPR. Abnaxis posted a comment in Episode 9, which I will quote here:

[…] you also need to understand that the purpose of (civilian) CPR is not to restart the victim’s heart, it is to keep blood flowing to their brain to keep them alive long enough for the professionals with defibrillators and epinephrin to show up and take over. That is why the first priority should always, always be to call pramedics, even if you have to pause resuscitating to do it (preferably you tell someone else to do it while you start resuscitating).

For my reference, I only really have my training, although the first section of this wiki article says what I am going for. Virtually every other CPR training material says the same thing: the purpose of CPR is to keep people alive for a few minutes longer, because brain damage starts after 4 minutes of no circulation, and the average EMT response time is 10-15 minutes.

As for the article you quoted, that is intended for medical professionals in a hospital setting. Doctors don’t get to wait for medical professionals to show up, they are the medical professionals, with the training and knowledge required to recognize the (extremely few) cases in which CPR might have a chance to restart a stopped heart.

All of these points do not apply to the situation we are talking about. Lee, et. al., are certainly not medical professionals. There are no EMTs alive, let alone any coming. […]

For my part, I didn’t know any of this. I took the situation at face value, that the CPR could plausibly revive him and we were simply refusing to risk our lives to save his. But regardless of whether or not CPR can actually save his life, all three characters believe that it can and they don’t have access to Wikipedia. Like shocking a flatline , it’s a bit of medical nonsense that has permeated popular culture because of its usefulness as a storytelling device.

There’s no way for them to know that they’re wrong, so they react to the scenario just like most uninformed people do. On the other hand, This is made more complex by the fact that there’s some combination of actions that will result in Larry opening his eyes just as the block comes down. So in the reality we see here, Larry is unrealistically revived by CPR. This makes a mess of the discussion among the audience, since the “what would you do in this situation” is so undefined. What would I do in this situation in the real world (where CPR only staves off brain death until the paramedics arrive) could differ from what I would do in this world (where CPR revives someone with no pulse) and we don’t know the parameters of how zombification works or how long it takes.

Also worth reading is this comment by anaphysik, regarding how nitroglycerin pills work.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:



A Hundred!20827 comments. Suck it, base ten!

From the Archives:

  1. Indy says:

    Sometimes, the accumulative knowledge of this blog’s commenters is just amazing to see. Makes me wish I had something intelligent or wise to add. Oh well…

    At least Larry dies. I imagine at this point in the game, Shamus was very happy.

  2. krellen says:

    Honestly, it feels wrong not to try, regardless of science.

    Kenny, however, does actually feel guilty for this, which is why he’s so pissed at Lee if he doesn’t help; Kenny isn’t the sort to bear that sort of guilt alone.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yes.I still tried cpr because I played lee as an optimist,not letting go until the very last moment.Because if you give up early,you will quickly descend into..well,we will see into what in episode 4.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Honestly, I knew that doing CPR had absolutely no chance in saving Larry. However, I did it anyway because, as you said, it felt like the right thing to do. I felt extremely bad for Lilly and wanted to do what I could to make her feel better.

        Turns out that really helped to build a good relationship with her. It’s a shame that doesn’t matter.

        • anaphysik says:

          I knew that CPR does /technically/ have a very, very small chance of helping, and guessed that Larry quite probably wasn’t dead yet (instead he would die in a minute or two), but I still helped cave his skull in. The risk of him turning at any moment (*especially* when we have NO good way of telling when exactly he was dead, so that we could bash his head in *then*, after we’d done anything we could) was simply too great to chance it.

          If the situation was ‘we can sturdily lock Lilly in a room with incapacitated Larry and let her attempt to revive him’ then obviously I would do that, since Lilly apparently seems willing to risk her life to try to save her dad. But there is NO FUCKING WAY that I’m risking Clem’s life.

    • Isy says:

      This was actually a point in the game where the choice didn’t work for me. I’m not saying it was badly written, or undramatic, or that I felt annoyed by the forced limitations of the choice, because I feel the opposite of that (the choice at the end of the episode illustrates what I feel is a bad choice). But right here, unlike in other parts of the game, I couldn’t overcome the knowledge that I was in a game. I knew I was in no real danger if I tried to help Larry, because the game wasn’t going to having him bite my face off and give me a game over screen if I picked one option and not the other. None of the characters in this room were expendable characters, except maybe Lily, and… if she dies helping her dad, she’d probably be happier than just us murdering him. If Katja or Duck had been in here, the situation would have been more tense. But instead of the choice they were trying to present to me, the choice I got was this:

      -Would you like to murder a man in front of his daughter and Clementine for literally no reason whatsoever?
      -Or would you maybe not like to do that because you’re a swell upstanding guy?

      I don’t know if there was any way for the game developers to avoid that. It was complete metagaming on my part. I even wanted to tell Kenny afterward “Hell, you could have been right. But we had to try.” (The game will not let you do this.)

      I did, however, give Kenny a big “What the FUCK, Kenny!” and felt it wasn’t undeserved. All we know here is Larry’s panicked daughter thinks he’s not breathing and he might have had a heart attack. For all our completely medically untrained asses know, there could have been no real danger at all. Lilly doesn’t even have time to check for a pulse. Lee tells her to do it right as Kenny kills the guy.

      Also, is anyone else amused on how Lee completely dumps Mark on the floor and abandons him to run to Clementine? Look, I know cannibalism is a really big taboo here, but somehow I felt like her taking a tiny bite of human flesh seemed lesser to leaving Mark there, missing his legs, while he’s pitifully begging you for help. I even checked to see if there was a UI dot on him you could click to try and help. Nope!

      • Alex says:

        “I don’t know if there was any way for the game developers to avoid that. It was complete metagaming on my part.”

        That’s easy: have your metagaming bite you in the ass- er, face. All they had to do is not conform to your cliche that attempting CPR on a soon-to-be-zombie won’t get your face bitten off.

        • Isy says:

          They could, but it would have utterly ruined Lily as a character, and really ruined the choice as well. She’ screaming “Fuck You!” at us after we killed her dad, which is a perfectly reasonable reaction. But if the game had killed me if I tried to save her dad, then I would just be resentful at both her and the game for forcing me into this situation where I was being screamed at for something that was undeniably right.

          The choice here is so strong because of the ambiguity. Is Larry opening his eyes because he’s a zombie? Or did he come around and Kenny just murdered the guy and ruined everything? We don’t know – we’ll never know.

      • anaphysik says:

        Funnily, this was one of the times in the series when I was COMPLETELY in a non-metagaming mode. (And so I helped bash his head in.)

        (But yes, I do hate how the game designers never let us give Mark a leg up. (#TooSoon?))

    • Soylent Dave says:

      A point I would make is that CPR isn’t just “keep someone alive until paramedics can restart their heart”.

      It is possible for a heart to spontaneously ‘restart’ without defibrillation – although the odds are incredibly long – so in this case you’d be doing CPR to keep the blood pumping until – in the hope that – the patient’s heart started pumping properly again.

      (it’s still not the CPR that restarts it though; sometimes the heart just starts working again even if no CPR or defibrillation has occurred, or after it has ceased (Lazarus phenomena))

      So there would be some reason for an optimistic Lee (and certainly Lily) to do some CPR in this situation, even if they knew exactly how unlikely a positive outcome was.

      Then again, it’s also worth noting that a lot of apparent heart attacks aren’t actually cardiac arrests (i.e. the heart hasn’t actually stopped beating), and CPR isn’t exactly the best option if someone has a weak heart which is still beating…

      • Isy says:

        The last bit is very important, because we don’t even know Larry’s heart stopped. Everyone assumes it did, but Lilly never gets a chance to check. People can survive heart attacks – cardiac arrest is quite a bit less likely.

  3. Vagrant says:

    When I saw this Larry move slightly I took it as a sign he was coming back as a zombie. I never stopped to think he was coming back to life because I figured when the heart stopped zombification set in and there was no turning back even if the heart restarted

  4. Deadpool says:

    Yeah, in game world, CPR works fine… Even without mouth to mouth.

    The scene is clearly meant to mirror the one in Episode 1, and I feel the writers have been building up to this since.

    Duck may or may not become a Zombie (we know later that he WON’T, but right now, we don’t know). Larry advocates throwing him out immediately. The player can agree, disagree, or play middle of the road (find out if he’s is bitten first, kick him out afterwards). Kenny disagrees completely for obvious reasons (his son).

    Larry has one unequivocaly evil moment (trying to kill Lee), Kenny has one unequicocally good moment (saving Lee even if he doesn’t like it). Notice that these are the only such moments for either character in the game, and they come back to back.

    Now we have Larry who may or may not become a Zombie (we know that he won’t, but at the time, it is unclear). Kenny advocates for killing him now. Lily disagrees. Here you HAVE to pick one.

    It is interesting how many people sided with Kenny in BOTH cases, despite Kenny completely switching sides…

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its not switching sides.To use the same examples:

      In the first case,we dont know if duck is on the path of zombification,so going the middle road of checking first is sensible.In the second case,we do know that larry is on the path of zombification,and its only a matter of time.If duck was bitten in first episode,doing cpr on larry would be the equivalent of trying to stop the bite in duck,say by removing the bitten limb.Yes,I will bring this back up in episode 5.

      • Deadpool says:

        While having the argument over the Duck, neither Lee, nor Larry, nor Kenny know if Duck was bitten or not. With hindsight, we know he is not.

        While having the argument over Larry, neither Lee, nor Lily, nor Kenny know if Larry is going to survive or not. With hindsight, we know that he would.

        How is it NOT a side switch?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          We knew that he had a heart condition,that he clutched his chest,that lily said he isnt breathing.So yes we all knew that he was dead.What is unknown is whether we can revive him in time,and if that would help at all.But we all knew that he was dead.

          Having someone be alive,and seemingly ok,and asking for his death before checking if he may be not that ok is a completely different than having someone fall over dead and asking if we should try to revive them.

          But dont worry,episodes 3 and 5 will give you two situations that actually do mirror this situation with larry,and I will discuss them when we reach them.

          • Deadpool says:

            If he can revived, then he isn’t dead.

            And if you want to look at semantics, clutching heart isn’t exactly proof of heart attack, nor are panicking daughters the best judge of pulses.

            Here’s what we KNOW, regardless of the fine print: Larry was NOT going to turn into a zombie any more than Duck was.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              And middle of january is no proof that it will be cold outside,but if you are in norway you sure wont get out in summer clothes.Seriously,you are reaching for straws now.It not semantics,larry has died.Just because there is a slim chance to make his body alive again doesnt change the fact that he is dead.He has passed on.He is no more.He has ceased to be.He is an ex-person.

              The two situations are as different as sky and earth.If duck was actually bitten,and the debate in episode 1 was whether to kill him or not,then these two would be similar.But that was not the case.Larry wanted to kill duck without even checking if he was bitten.

              Seriously,why are you so hung up on proving how these two completely different situations are similar?Like Ive said,wait for episodes 3 and 5,and youll get situations that actually are similar to this one.There is no need to stretch previous scenes beyond breaking point.

              • Deadpool says:

                Except that he ISN’T DEAD. He is alive. He opens his eyes.

                Hell, at worst, he takes a breath right before dying. LARRY WAS ALIVE. HE WAS NOT TURNING ZOMBIE.

                If Duck had been bitten, it would be a DIFFERENT situation. In both cases we are UNSURE if the person in question (Duck or Larry) will turn Zombie. In both cases someone makes a decision without all the information and in both cases that person is WRONG.

                Ask yourself the same question… Why are YOU so interested in proving that it’s NOT mirroring each other?

    • Isy says:

      I seem to recall reading that the CPR is far more important than the mouth to mouth.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        To the point that current UK public information films ONLY tells us to do CPR chest-pumps.

        It’s partly because CPR is the most important bit – artificially inducing or boosting circulating of the blood – and partly because induced breathing (blowing into someone’s mouth) is a lot harder to do right if you haven’t had proper training.

  5. baseless research says:

    I miss mumbles. I don’t know why, but this episode is making me think of mumbles a lot. Can’t put my finger on what though. Maybe it’s something she said once?

    I’m sure it will come to me eventually.

  6. Astrolounge says:

    These episode need a special warning: “Caution, this episode contains an incorrigible punster, do not incorrige him”.

  7. Spencer Petersen says:

    The best part of this is that its a culmination of about 3 different conflicts and yet it doesn’t feel rushed or confusing. A serious confrontation has just taken place at dinner, the game has signaled that its ok to calm down with some light puzzle solving and you feel some unity with a common foe, all things which you would think makes you safer.

    Suddenly the lingering problem of no-bite-reanimation, imprisonment due to the St. Johns and Kenny-Lilly conflict is thrust into your hands with no clear middle ground. If you stay quiet and don’t intervene then Kenny will call you useless and do the deed, which Lily will treat as loyal via inaction.

    I know the site as a whole is trying to get past Mass Effect, but this is a perfect example of how that game feels so sterile and disconnected and this game can feel so much more lively even without space guns and explosions. Characters like Garrus and Tali never are affected by your actions in gameplay and you never see them as unique warriors because they use the same weapons, abilities and animations as every other NPC, and also due to the sterile weaponry they use; clean plastic guns, bright explosives and glowing yellow swords. Here its dirty guns, bloody blades and farm implements being used by people who are directly connected to their actions.

    I mean just imagine how far you could go with a character that actually felt guilt and pain in normal action-rpg gameplay from having to kill an enemy with a rock after they were disarmed, or had to fight with an enemy over a gun and point blank shoot them in the face. Imagine talking with a team member after a tough mission where they had to execute a fleeing combatant by your command and actually using your character building to affect both your relationship and their combat effectiveness.

    I feel that the only real developer to tackle that kind of Adventure-Action-RPG would be Telltale if they expanded into a little more gameplay or Obsidian working Indie with a steady funding budget. Bioware is too encapsulated with its own fans to undergo any drastic redesign and I really don’t know who else makes story driven RPGs anymore.

    My personal dream is a game where its uses a universal toolset to handle conversations, fights with guns, melee and unique combat methods, sneaking, utilizing a market and organizing allies without special cutscenes or pointless minigames to bridge the gap. A game where you not only can avoid ever having to kill anyone, but one where you never have to be put in direct physical danger to succeed. The more I played the Walking Dead the more I realized that if such a game were to be made, it would probably start like this and grow from there, not from games like Mass Effect.

  8. Jokerman says:

    Taken as the game presented to me…and my limited knowledge of if it i decided to help revive him

    Throughout i had pretty much hated the guy. I didn’t like that he tried to kill me, but that does not mean i am going to murder him at the first chance i get…the plan was to try and help him for a while and kill him off if he doesn’t come back to life right away.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I don’t like that generally speaking your only recourse if you want to get payback on someone for wronging you is to murder them. Honestly, revenge works in much more subtle, and less violent or harmful, ways. It is not binary.

      I think Shamus probably wouldn’t be so hateful (That’s not the best word, but the only one I can think of.) of Larry if the game honestly just let you talk to him and call him out on his bs. If this was a real world scenario, airing out my grievances would be one of the first things I do.

  9. cyber_andyy says:

    Might be a bit late for this but oh well.

    Student paramedic in London here:

    London has some of the best survival rates for Cardiac arrest with around a 30% survival to hospital discharge.

    Still, thats not a great survival rate. Most of those patents will have had bystander cpr – which is no where near as effective as CPR done by a HPC and is partly responsible for a move to compression only CPR for the public which also increases survival rates.

    Then consider theres only two shock-able rhythms, and if the cause of these is hyper/hypokalemia, then theres no point unless you can reverse it with drugs.

    So, if I was playing the game, with no access to adrenaline or atropine, a hospital or a doctor with a full drugs bag, I’d brick him.

    Just a few things about that video:
    1) Thats not what CPR looks like.
    2) Ribs are more likely to ‘pop’ at the breastbone. This is expected. Broken ribs are not unless the patient is already frail.
    3) The ‘soverign’ is a bad way to describe where to put the pressure on. We currently use

  10. Indy says:

    On the small hole-thing, there is one point in episode three and two in episode four where Clementine goes through a small hole. Only one is without you asking her to and when I first saw that particular hole, I wondered why I couldn’t ask her to. Pacing is the only reason I can think of and that’s only a meta reason. And while it is used five times, you are right in that it doesn’t seem over-used.

    As for the screen turning red, that’s a great sign to rush and ‘do the right thing’ marker. I remember rushing down the stairs to Clementine, complete with red border, and going ‘huh, I wonder…’. She’s completely fine. There’s no rush, it just feels like there is.

    I love how badly you can interrupt dinner too. Shouting ‘IT’S PEOPLE!’ gets someone to just say ‘Yeah, we’re all people.’ The subsequent convincing is just weird until Lee volunteers the bit about ‘some guy’ upstairs with his legs missing. And that route also let’s you goad Larry into taking a big mouthful.

  11. Amnestic says:

    Would the scene at the dinner table have been more effective if Mark’s wound was actually…well…bad? Like say he took an arrow to the gut instead of to the back of his shoulder. Would it have been better if they were more “believable” in the ‘we only kill those who are already dying’ or if they’re unequivocally shown as being screwed up in the head and just omnomnoming whoever?

    On a similar note, would Larry’s heart attack being due to a cause outside of his control rather than him not calming down even though he knows he has a heart condition and basically did it to himself despite multiple warnings from his daughter and already having one recent scare have changed people’s decision to help him or not? I mean, yeah, “no one deserves to die” and all, but his voluntary actions have now directly put you, your friends and Clementine at risk – that’s a lot worse than putting them at risk due to something out of his control.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I honestly don’t think that the scene could’ve gone better, simply by the nature of The Walking Dead’s world. For them to feast on you, you have to be alive because when you die you become a rotting corpse of a walker. In other words, they will always be feasting on still living victims, which is a MAJOR crime against humanity.

      • AyeGill says:

        Yeah, but their argument is that they only feed on people who are beyond saving. Which still seems to be bullshit, given the bear trap that you find in the beginning of the game, and I also doubt that most people would feel it made cannibalism okay. But it would make their side, if not understandable, at least less “lolevil”.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Yeah. As you point out, that would be bs given the bear traps and the fact that Mark’s wound should’ve been totally fixable.

          • anaphysik says:

            Apparently (i.e., according to TvTropes), the bandits only ever use red arrows, whilst the “St John’s target-practice”-walker has a white arrow sticking out of it… and the arrow that hits Mark is the back is ALSO white… DUNDUNDUN.

            (The implication would be that one of the St Johns intentionally shot Mark in order to justify chopping him up. You could even say that they used that arrow to ‘mark’ him for death.)

        • Steve C says:

          It is bullshit. One of the St. Johns says they only eat people who are going to die anyway. The creepier St John says “Like you.” The traps, trying to kill you by turning on the fence, Mark (who wasn’t that badly hurt) all says they are simply murderers that want to eat people. “Gonna die anyway” is straight up bullshit.

      • Amnestic says:

        “For them to feast on you, you have to be alive because when you die you become a rotting corpse of a walker.”

        I don’t get it. Couldn’t you just lop the dude’s head off, harvest the meat off the now dead non-Walker and go on your merry cannibal way?

        I seriously don’t understand why they have to keep people alive. The meat’s not psychically connected to the person. Once you lop it off the zombie infection is going to run its course because it no longer has an active, living brain connected to it.

  12. Mormegil says:

    I assumed Katjaa was being held to help with the cow and Duck was being used for compliance.

    Clementine is so much better than Carl from the t.v. series who seems to intentionally wander into meat grinders to get other group members killed.

    And based on my own 5 year old’s behaviour I did not question for a second why Clementine would have a rock in her pocket.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh my god!You helped kenny!You bastards!

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Guys,why no Mumbles cameo?Come on,it was the perfect place to get her to come here.You have blought sharme to the episode!Commit sudoku!

  15. zob says:

    I honestly can’t understand why people are praising this as a “game” with great storytelling. So far it’s narrative is as linear as Mass Effect. Characters keep passing idiot ball around. Drama is created by them being in stupid situations without a reason. They up the emotional ante with needless gore moments.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      It was more to do with the whole than any individual episode. Aside from Episode 2 (which I agree is the weakest, with Episode 4 coming in as second weakest), all of them flow pretty well into each other and culminate in a really touching ending.

      As the SW crew said in the very start, this story flows in a linear fashion, but your choices affect the tone of the story and particulars in how events play out. It better creates an illusion of choice, even if the events of Episode 3 broke that illusion for me.

      • zob says:

        This doesn’t feel like a “game” with a story. This feels like a story with a rudimentary game elements attached to it. This is more of a animated series than it’s a game. And as an animated series it’s story is just mediocre not great.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Yeah. The Walking Dead plays with the concept of “What exactly is a video game?” I like that it does what it does with the interactivity. It helps bring you into the world and into the character of Lee Everett.

          Honestly, you have to play it to really get it. Watching someone go through it probably isn’t sufficient. You have to feel the tension for yourself and be in the driver’s seat, making those choices.

          • zob says:

            I’ll agree to disagree at this point. I find the notion “what counts as a video game” as an excuse to cheat and choose a narratively less competitive field to tell a story.

            Honestly, you have to play it to really get it. Watching someone go through it probably isn’t sufficient. You have to feel the tension for yourself and be in the driver’s seat, making those choices.

            Here is the problem with that. This is a game and you can replay. When you replay you know the choices beforehand and able to think about them. This is where linear nature of the story actually hits. If this was a heavily branching story this game would keep it’s freshness through consecutive playthroughs. But as it is, it’s just very slightly better than watching an animated series.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              I think what’s happening here is that the reasons you hate it are the same reasons I like it.

              Nothing wrong with that, just pointing it out.

              • zob says:

                Just to be sure that we are on the same page here. You like it because it barely counts as a game (mechanically)?

                • newdarkcloud says:

                  No. I like it for the way it blends gameplay and story together so that you need them both for a complete experience. That’s how games should be designed in my opinion.

                • Thomas says:

                  EDIT: This was a rant about how “it’s not a game” isn’t helpful criticism. And I still agree with that. It’s talking about whether something does or does not fit into an imaginary box. However you were talking specifics along with that which were valid and interesting

                  Though I think more doesn’t equal better and we don’t have a dichotomy between animated cartoons and games. There’s a whole scale of interesting areas to explore and whats important is not how much interaction there is, but how intelligently it’s been used. To The Moon is a fantastic game which uses player control to show a story in a new perspective. But its worst elements are random gameplay segments thrown in so it can fit in the ‘game category’

                  Here the interaction is used way more cleverly than most games are. It builds rapport, it creates tension, it explains the trials of the situation like non-interactive mediums can’t. In fact I will say this is the game that understands interactivity better than any game I’ve played. Look at the red on that quicktime event and the ‘hints’. They know exactly what everything (except some of the early puzzles maybe) dies and how it strengthens the story.

                  Lack of replayability is a problem. But that’s also a box. This isn’t a pound 50 game and length of playtime isn’t as important of worth of game. Murder mysteries are less exciting on the second time, whereas most other books are almost equally enjoyable on a second time. It’s a mark against the game, but I don’t think it suffers from being designed for only one playthrough.

                  • zob says:

                    What makes games interesting is the ability to continue when you fail. You lose health or waste ammo which makes fights harder, you lose resources which makes management harder, you lose NPCs, etc. Being better at the game or not losing that NPC gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

                    This “game” is constructed in such a way that destroys player agenda.
                    -Binary QTE states results in “continue as the exact way the author intended or not at all”.
                    -Illusion of choice and converging storylines remove the element of choice from the equation. When there are no bad choices then there are no good choices either.
                    -Most of the emotional drama hinges on cutscenes (in a relative sense) and forced narrative. Yes our harts jump when Lee steps on a creaking board but if you can’t prevent that from happening (like being careful etc.) then it’s no more different than watching a protagonist on tv.

                    Let me try to explain from a different perspective.
                    Think of you sitting in a comfortable sofa wathcing a movie, protagonist is in danger, backlights of your tv starts flickering and suddenly you need to press x on your remote controller 10 times or you see him die and need to rewind the movie. This is what I feel when I played this game (contrary to popular belief I did play this game).

                    Maybe something is wrong with me but being forced to push a button in my keyboard does not make this story any more immersive. If the story was exceptional (which Shamus and company and comments showed otherwise) I’d be much more immersed. But it’s mediocre.

                    For what it’s worth I’m against adding gimmicky game elements for adding sake as much as you do.

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      “Illusion of choice and converging storylines remove the element of choice from the equation. When there are no bad choices then there are no good choices either.”

                      Here is where we disagree. I don’t think that choices should make for clear “making this choice leads to an objectively better outcome than the other.” I feel that choices should be in the area of “no bad choices, just results from them.” And while we can debate as to whether or not this game maintains a solid illusion of choice well (I’ll be honest, the events in Episode 3 broke it in a unique way.), we can’t argue that there are things that do change depending on your choices, even if the game still funnels you in one direction.

                      “Most of the emotional drama hinges on cutscenes (in a relative sense) and forced narrative. Yes our harts jump when Lee steps on a creaking board but if you can’t prevent that from happening (like being careful etc.) then it’s no more different than watching a protagonist on tv.”

                      Correct, but again I don’t see this as an objectively bad thing. It’s not something everyone is going to like, but I do feel that game’s are unique in that they can place you squarely into the perspective of the protagonist which makes these kinds of things more tense as its YOU on the line as opposed to some hero.

                    • zob says:

                      newdarkcloud, let me sum this up.
                      I can’t classify this as a proper game. For me it’s more like an interactive movie. I listed my reasons for that claim.

                      Based on that I find the practice of praising this “game”s storytelling compared to any other proper game (i.e. System Shock 2) wrong. This storyline should be inspected outside of the realm of videogames.

                      My original problem with that practice was failure to understand it. Now that I know people think that this is a proper game, I’ll be content with disagreeing.

                    • Thomas says:

                      @Zob, yoou described one very specific way of enjoying a game. Clearly those are the things that you enjoy, but they aren’t where I take my enjoyment from. It’s more this isn’t the game you wanted rather than it isn’t a game or it isn’t a good game. Ammo depletion and retrying are not my definitions of a game or what makes a fun game. If there are 8 broad engagements, those are all completely about the ‘challenge’ engagement and nothing else. Games and interactivity can do more

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              “This is a game and you can replay. When you replay you know the choices beforehand and able to think about them. This is where linear nature of the story actually hits.”

              Yes,and?I mean just look what the cast said in the last episode about that scene on the stairs.They were replaying the game,they knew exactly what will happen,and how it will happen,and it still struck them.And yet you say how that doesnt mean a thing?

              Heck,like Ive said before,going through episode 2,I guessed the twist from the get-go,and yet I still enjoyed it immensely.

              And of course you dont get why the game is being praised,you are watching it,you arent playing it.Its the equivalent of listening to roger ebert talk about shawshank redemption and not getting why the movie is so praised,or reading the synopsis of romeo and juliet and not getting why it is so praised.No matter what anyone says to you at that point,you will not get it.

            • Abnaxis says:

              My brother and I have been having this same discussion, almost constantly while he is playing it (he’s on Ep.3, I’m halfway through Ep. 5, both unspoilered playthroughs). He gets frustrated because it “isn’t a game”; the controls are inconsistent, the mechanics are often implied rather than explicit, and there’s no real win-state. To him, “game” means an there’s explicit goal with spelled out mechanics to achieve that goal and metrics for progress, and story is the dressing put on top of it. This came out in stark relief in the encounter with Ms. St. John–after watching his fourth curse-inducing death, I finally broke and said “Stop walking toward her she’s pointing a freaking gun at you!” to which he replied, “How am I supposed to know that?”

              The reason people sing the praises of this game is because the story and the game mechanics are symbiotic with one another. The QTE’s are simple and spastic, in areas where you be going “Oh crap get it off get it off!” if you’re invested in the story. The dialog mechanics force you to make difficult, split-second decisions that frame the context of the rest of the game. There are puzzle elements in the relief areas of the story, pushing you to investigate the setting and become invested in the cast.

              You can’t separate it out and look at the mechanics by themselves or the narrative by itself because neither one is complete without the other, and (from my experience) your mileage is going to vary precisely by how much player/character separation you experience and how “meta” your outlook is. That’s why I really love this game, while my brother-in-law sits there and says “I’ll play some more because the story is kinda OK, but the gameplay sucks.”

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                “You can’t separate it out and look at the mechanics by themselves or the narrative by itself because neither one is complete without the other”

                Precisely.Many believe that games are made out of distinctly separate elements when this simply is not true.We really should move away from such a way of thinking.In composite mediums such as movies and games,the whole is nut just a simple sum of its parts,but the connections between all of those parts as well.Examining just one of those elements with disregarding the rest is wrong.Just how building up just one of those elements and disregarding the rest is wrong.

              • zob says:

                If by invested you mean “make yourself believe that mashing buttons is a life or death thing” sure I can understand that. Unfortunately game is not that immersive for me. As Josh hilarously demonstrated in this very episode most of the QTE’s are binary state continue game buttons. Failing or succeeding (or auto-failing) them changes nothing.

                • Amnestic says:

                  And as soon as one of the QTEs sneaks up on you with a failure state of death, it pulls you out of it entirely. Just like horror games suffer immediately when you die from monsters. The QTE narrative and mechanic “symbiosis” can only be said to work if you’re invested in the story enough (i.e. not pulled out by the cannibal plot) and focused enough that you hit QTEs every time they come up.

                  If either of those fail, the game fails as a whole. On the other hand, you can have games where they’re not linked – Dragon Age for instance, where the combat can fail but the story and world carries on regardless to the extent that it ‘carries the game’ or…Gears of War when the ‘story’ can fail but the gameplay keeps you coming back.

            • Soylent Dave says:

              When you replay you know the choices beforehand and able to think about them. This is where linear nature of the story actually hits. If this was a heavily branching story this game would keep it’s freshness through consecutive playthroughs.

              That depends on what your expectations are.

              The plot doesn’t branch very much (if at all) – the story progresses in largely the same way no matter what decisions you make. There are some minor differences (usually based on which characters are actually available), but the story – that’s pretty linear.

              But the story does branch.

              What your decisions do is change is the way the characters interact with you and (to a lesser degree) one another.
              They change which characters exist at some parts of the game.

              The plot doesn’t branch; the way the story is told does.

              This works, I think, because Lee is just another survivor. He shouldn’t be able to dictate the actions of the rest of the group (not to any real degree). He is only really responsible for his own actions – and whether he tries to be responsible for Clementine or not.

              (compare with Mass Effect, when we’re repeatedly told how important Shepard (war hero, secret agent, back from the dead, last hope for the galaxy…) is – but your choices don’t often reflect that, so it’s much less satisfying)

              You can reasonably expect your choices to significantly affect the galaxy in Mass Effect, and be disappointed when they don’t.

              In The Walking Dead, you can reasonably expect your choices to significantly affect how Lee interacts with the other survivors, and how they feel about him.

              The story unfolds around Lee; he doesn’t direct it – you just get to help describe it.

              • zob says:

                I did say heavily branching. And when I talked about freshness I was talking about emotional high points. Like seeing Mark without legs or creaking stairs or Larry death. Clem saying shit instead of dooey does not provide some brand new perspective to the game when heavy hitter scenes stay the same.

    • Zukhramm says:

      I honestly don’t understand why people keep using non-linearity as a measure of good storytelling.

      • zob says:

        My criticism is not solely focused on non-linearity. I mentioned it as just another point of story being not exceptional among its peers.

      • ehlijen says:

        It’s not really about linearity vs non-linearity. Plenty of fantastic games have little to no non-linearity.

        The problem comes when a game asks the player to make a choice but then twists all possible answers into the same outcome. Walking dead does that a lot. In a lot of cases it works, because it’s a game about how you react to your fate that you can’t avoid, but it doesn’t always do it well.

        Games that don’t over choices are not expected to honour them, but games that ask players to make big choices have to deal with the fact that some players will feel cheated if their choice didn’t make a difference.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          But its not always the same outcome.You are as much of a character in this game as everyone else.And some of the choices may not impact the rest of the group,but they are still impacting you.

          • ehlijen says:

            That is true most of the time, but not all the time. And even then, the distinction between ‘this choice will give the story a different outcome’ and ‘this choice will define how your character views/is viewed in the set outcome’ is one not every player was expecting. When the game says ‘your choices matter’, some players assume the first and won’t be happy if they get the second. It’s just different tastes.

            What difference does it make to the story whether you give the suicidal lady in the motel the gun? It might say a lot about Lee or even the player, but it didn’t change the plot one iota. I don’t recall any character talking about it in later episodes, and all characters involved don’t stick around for much longer anyway.

            I’m not saying that makes it a bad game (though I wasn’t thrilled by it), just that there are reasons to not like it.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              But that problem comes from our deep understanding that the player is somehow not part of the game,and that while he influences it,it doesnt influence them back.Thats how majority of games have(and still are)been made.

              You can not like a game for that,sure.Just how you can not like a book because you dont like to read.Its your taste.But we really should step away from philosophy that if your choices dont affect something visible in the game,they are meaningless.

  16. Talby says:

    Ah, but when he opens his eyes it could be because he’s turning into a zombie, not because the CPR worked when it shouldn’t.

  17. Zukhramm says:

    We know from the guy we got out of the bear trap that people dying do not turn into zombies instantly, right? So there’s really no point in crushing Larry’s head before we know he’s dead.

  18. newdarkcloud says:

    I will say that Josh is right. I don’t know what happened if you help Kenny, but if you chose Lilly over Kenny here, Lilly becomes much more sympathetic. It kinda makes Larry look useless, but whatever.

    (Episode 2)In the upcoming scene, should you choose Lilly, she is the one that backs you up when Creepy St. John has you in a corner while Kenny cowers for no apparent reason.

    (Episode 3)Although I will admit that Lilly still grows fairly unhinged at the start of Episode 3. She just does it in a way that feels tragic and sympathetic. Also, if you chose Carley and confess your past to her, she respects you for it.

    • Steve C says:

      Larry IS useless. Lilly and Larry both feel like a problem that has to be managed the entire time. In ep3 that’s especially true. Whatever sympathy I had for her was being burned through by how much of a problem she was. I truly loathed Lilly when she leaves. More than any other character. I wish there had been an option to kill her as that would have been a real decision.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        It’s been hours since I wrote that, and only know do I notice I wanted to write Kenny, not Larry (because of the upcoming scene which is in the spoilers).

        Still, you are correct in that Larry is a huge burden on the group. I think that if Lilly came without being attached to Larry, she’d be a but more useful too, but the baggage she brings really makes you question if its worth it.

        • Steve C says:

          Oh ok. Then I agree with you a 2nd time. Kenny is also useless. He’s a ok guy but he’s impulsive, not too bright, headstrong, and (most damning in a zombie apocalypse) completely unreliable. You can’t rely on Kenny when things get rough. Kenny is the type of guy who says “I’ve got your back” and he means it. But when you need him to have your back he won’t be there.
          I like Kenny, but don’t respect him. I dislike Lilly but respect her up to the point where I stopped.

  19. Klay F. says:

    I don’t know if this was ever discussed in the New Vegas season or not so I’m going to bring it up now. What is with cannibals in fiction constantly trying to trick OTHER PEOPLE into eating their own kind? I never really understood it. Do I get some sort of passive ability once human flesh enters my mouth?

    • newdarkcloud says:

      It depends on what kind of blood apparently. In New Vegas, you get a perk for chomping on the NCR President, KAI-SAAAARRRR, House, and The King.

      In all seriousness, I see what you’re saying. I don’t know why cannibals think that what they do is “an acquired taste.” If a cannibal tricked me into eating people, I’d just call 911 and have him arrested, then sue his ass for “pain and suffering.”

    • Pete says:

      Personally I always got the feeling that they want other people to confirm that its okay to get rid of their own lingering doubts and quilt, and forcing them into cannibalism seems like a perfect way to make them consider it okay to a twisted mind and wow I could not have phrased this sentence any worse if I tried.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Because human meat is always treated as a drug in fiction.A vampire can be good as long as they dont take their first sip of human blood,because its sooOOO special.

    • Volfram says:

      Not playing Devil’s Advocate(I hate that), but just to offer a bit of a counterpoint, I don’t really have that much issue against cannibalism.

      For one thing, the real cannibal cultures I think Josh was talking about are the ones who believe that eating something gives you part of its power, so you want to eat strong and smart and fast creatures, and you want to eat things and people who you respect. As one of the articles I read about it said, “The more a man looks up to his father, the more eager he is to eat him.” So real-world, cannibalism is a sign of respect.

      For a second thing, I was raised, likewise, not to waste, and let’s be honest, once you’re dead, you’re dead. I don’t really care what happens to my body once I’m done with it. My mom has actually gone on record that if we have to choose between eating her and starvation, eat up. Granted, I would exhaust all other options before I resort to cooking a person, and I’m NOT going to kill someone for food.

      Also worth noting, if you pay attention to whether a given food item is kosher, humans have a cloven hoof(multiple toes), but we do not chew our cud, and are therefore considered “unclean” according to Levitical law. So if you’re Jewish or Muslim, definitely don’t resort to cannibalism. Other than that, I think it’s a personal thing, like vegetarianism.

      • Wedge says:

        To be fair, when the St. Johns talk about “not wasting anything” it felt like a hollow rationalization, especially in light of some of the other rationalizations they give. Mark’s injury is hardly life-threatening, and it’s implied later that they eat people who are perfectly fine, saying “they were going to die anyway, they’re not strong enough to survive in this world” or something to that effect.

        I guess that’s a lot of why I didn’t like Ep 2–their motivations essentially boil down to “HAHAHAH we’re evil and eat people HAHAHA” *twirl moustache* which I didn’t find very compelling. Frankly, I would have found it more believable WITHOUT the whole Zombie apocalypse–the setting implies that this is something people would do in response to the end of the world, but if that were the case here, I don’t think the St. Johns would act and think the way they do. As is, they’re just your run-of-the-mill crazies who eat people, and if you’re the kind of sociopath who lures people into your home, murders them and eats them, you’re not going to wait for the apocalypse to start doing it.

        • krellen says:

          You can find out later, from Danny, that they have to keep their “meals” alive while butchering them, because once they die, they zombify and the meat goes instantly bad. Which just makes the whole “can’t waste anything” argument all the worse.

      • ? says:

        I seem to recall that there are actual health risks in making cannibalism your prime source of nutrition. Ritualistic cannibals probably worked around that by eating choice bits on special occasions and not making it part of their daily diet. Making long pork the cornerstone of your nutritious breakfast is bad choice on so many levels.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yes,there are a few diseases that can be gotten from eating human flesh.However,with modern medicine such things could easily be avoided,so the only argument against soilent green in this day and age is that its considered icky.

          • ehlijen says:

            Not sure that’s true. Modern Medicine still hasn’t quite figured out Mad Cow’s disease, despite being fairly confident that it’s exascerbated by feeding ground up cow bones to cows.

            So far BSE prevention boils down to ‘if you notice a contaminated batch (becaues the cows you were feeding it to are going mad), stop feeding it to cows and kill all the ones you’ve fed it to’. Not really that great a plan on animals; I don’t want to be the guy who’d have to implement it for humans.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          There’s the danger of kuru, something found in Papua New Guinea cannibal populations, it’s a prion disease similar to Mad Cow. But some researchers think it was a product of cannibals eating someone already infected with another prion disease.

    • krellen says:

      It’s how they reproduce. “Haha, you ate human, you’re a cannibal now! No way around it, might as well join us.”

      Spoiler isn’t about Walking Dead, but instead “explains the joke”. Cannibals aren’t particularly well-fed, and have trouble thinking logically as a result.

    • Isy says:

      According to D&D, you turn into a ghoul.

      More seriously, that seems to be how they actually treat it. “You’re irrevocably tainted forevers! Now you have to join us, because humanity will reject you.” Sadly, I do recall a trial back in ye oldy days where a man was convicted of murder because he admitted to cannibalism (to survive while stranded in the snow).

  20. IFS says:

    Dammit Shamus, I was waiting for this part of the game to make that point about CPR and then you/Abnaxis beat me to it! :P

    But yeah, the real reason not to side with Kenny is to try not to traumatize Clementine further with Liliy’s struggles as Kenny smashes Larry’s head in.

  21. Bryan says:

    Wait, “watch Aunty Paladin”? Isn’t it over?

    Oh wait, you probably mean “watch the recordings of the stuff you missed”. OK, can do!

  22. Isy says:

    An interesting thing here is the zombification time seems to be completely random. I mean, Lee seemed to be out for a good long while at the start of the game, and the cop presumably had been dead long before Lee woke back up.

  23. Spammy says:

    This block of episodes has been awkward for me. Replace Rutskarn’s badass zombie survivor with the badass “I am the best at predicting fiction and this is all so obvious and dumb” and that’s what I feel like I’ve been around. The game threw out a red enough herring to get me off the cannibalism idea. And I didn’t predict it because… Well, I’ve known people just like the St Johns (minus the cannibalism) and they were decent people. So it really grinds my gears when everyone goes on about how obvious cannibal hillbillies are. These are not hillbillies and not the ones of people who are already cannibals. Trust me, I’ve known too many of them. Arguably not hillbillies eithe considering they’re running a farm and not being useless out int the woods or by the river.

    Now if they were near a river things would be different, river people are just weird.

    • Zukhramm says:

      You know, when we say they’re obviously cannonballs, we don’t mean they as real people would be obvious cannibals but rather that the game is presenting them in a way that points to them being cannibals.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      To be fair, I didn’t suspect a thing until the St. John’s tried to kill me with their fence. And then Jolene sealed the deal (when Creppy St. John shot her).

      At first, I thought they were decent people.

  24. Danath says:

    I am having problems with the whole “There’s gotta be easier ways to get food than hunting survivors!” Cause it’s this weird assumption that the cannibalism IS a last resort for them. If it’s not, they just take advantage of the survivors who do show up or that they find. Even if it’s insanely unlikely you’d run into a group of people like them, the game says you DID, and this is how they’re acting, their actions are not nonsensical, because they are NOT treating cannibalism as the last resort to justify their actions.

    I did two playthroughs, CPR for my first one even though I knew it wouldn’t help but he wakes up if you heart pump him several times and he briefly lifts his head for a moment. However I prefer helping kill Larry, because even if we DID revive him, as established earlier, he doesn’t have his pills (you can check his pockets!), and some of these episodes are so bad a hospital is REQUIRED or he’s dead anywaysm there’s no pharmacies or hospitals nearby and Kenny is right, if you DON’T save him after all then he’s a 300 pound zombie and all you have as a weapon is an incredibly unwieldy salt lick.

    I felt justified in my choice, even if we saved him it still wouldn’t keep him alive long.

    • IFS says:

      It is possible that the St Johns took his pills when they shoved everyone into the room, they did take Lee’s multitool after all.

    • AyeGill says:

      About the cannibalism thing, I actually agree. I never got the feeling that the game was trying to frame their cannibalism as a desperate measure. They do tell you that they’re only eating people who would’ve died anyway and such, but it didn’t seem to me like the game was trying to make you understand their side in any way. They were batshit crazies who ate people, period.

  25. hborrgg says:

    They didn’t even bother to gag him? Ok, if that room is supposed to be already soundproofed then I think it would be proof that the whole cannibalism thing is NOT a recent development.

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Whenever someone mentions cannibalism,it always reminds me of this clip:Not 9 o’clock news.

  27. Thomas says:

    1. The conversation with Lilly is the same regardless of whether you assisted or not and yet it works both ways, which is nice writing.

    2.This is a really good season of spoiler warning

  28. ClearWater says:

    Was that what you call a quick time event?

  29. I know I’m here late, and few will read this, but contrast the tension you feel sending Clementine through the duct here with the complete lack of tension you feel when you send Sally through multiple vents to open doors in Fallout 3‘s DLC, “Mothership Zeta.”

  30. Blovski says:

    I think the odd ‘you’ll find *a guy* with his legs hacked off’ is because you had the option to say ‘you’ll find Mark upstairs legless’ in the previous one … though it’s really odd if you selected any other option. I had the same Dadzombie theory as Shamus, with the addition that they were feeding him people (thought Ma’s thing on ‘you’ll see a little bit of humanity’ was leading up to that). Also, the redneck cannibals thing was such a horror film cliché that I discounted it thereby making it so hackneyed it was surprising.

  31. NotACat says:

    Doesn’t Brenda say she was brought up to eat people, and that’s how she brought up her children?

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>