While re-watching the episode prior to writing this post, I found myself getting that gut-punch feeling again. Notwithstanding our talking over it and making jokes, this is a powerful sequence. It’s wonderfully written and acted.
For those asking what interactivity adds to a story: The scene where you shoot Duck is a pretty good example. You have to point a gun at a kid and make it happen. Compare this to games where your character kills someone in a cutscene and the player doesn’t have any input. It’s the difference between:
Lee shot Duck.
I shot Duck.
Despite my childish joking around in this scene during the episode, this was an emotionally grueling scene for me. (And I made Ken do it in my playthrough.) I did find myself wondering if the stereotypical gamer (the 24 year old single male) would have an easier time with this than me. I’m just a little older than Kenny, and my youngest is about the same age as Duck. I found Kenny’s freak-out in the train to be annoying but understandable. Something like this will overload anyone’s coping mechanisms.