In its first episode, The Walking Dead: Michonne introduced us to the troubled, but undeniably strong heroine for whom the series is named. Mixing plenty of fan-service with an elegantly delivered helping of backstory, it built up a solid (though well-worn) struggle and gave some insight into the mind of one of The Walking Dead’s most interesting characters. Episode 2 on the other hand, doesn’t deliver quite as strongly.
Far from being bad, The Walking Dead: Michonne’s second episode, for the most part, just plays it pretty safe. Sticking to what worked in the premiere and continuing to set up a lot of genuinely intriguing conflict, there’s plenty to like in Give No Shelter. But as the credits roll after barely an hour, it just ends up not delivering, leaving the entirety of the payoff for the next episode.
As for what Give No Shelter does do however, the story picks up the very moment the premiere left off. And right from the beginning, the player is confronted with the fact that the people in the floating boat-city of Monroe aren’t necessarily bad. But with circumstances being what they are, it doesn’t matter. Michonne and her allies are enemies of Monroe, and there’s no getting around that, regardless of who was actually in the wrong.
Only hinted at in the first episode, but significantly emphasized in the second, that distinction is the most unique and engaging aspect of the series so far, and what helps it stand apart from the usual foundation fans have come to expect. The Walking Dead has always been more about the conflicts between the living, and as such, the issues brought up in Michonne have found the perfect balance, relishing that grey area between good and evil.
Even as all of this is going on however, Telltale still takes the opportunity to investigate Michonne’s character that much more. Her hallucinations continue as we again get flashbacks of when the disease first began and see flashes of Michonne’s daughters.
Ultimately, these segments do fall a little flat though, as they don’t push or illuminate much beyond what we already saw and learned in the first episode. As I said, Michonne’s second episode plays it safe from a narrative point-of-view. These looks into the character’s psyche worked well, more of what stood out as so promising in the previous episode, but were also more of the same.
Where the spotlight on her character does manage to have a real impact though, is in a handful of quieter moments in the later half of the episode. Michonne’s continuing trauma takes center stage, and is at its most fascinating as decisions revolve around just how honest and open she wants to be with the people around her.
Though her inner demons are interesting on their own, they aren’t half as interesting as seeing how such experiences shape Michonne as a human being. In part because of that, the episode overall manages to build up quite the emotional weight.
Capitalizing on that, Telltale then punctuates the narrative with a dose of horrifyingly brutal action. While it is, and should be, very open to debate whether or not the brutality in Give No Shelter perhaps crossed a line, I can only say that it fit within the hazy depictions of good and evil that the episode alluded to. In that way, it worked. The brutality stayed consistent with the world being explored. That said however, it’s more than likely that others would disagree.
Taken as a whole, Give No Shelter is an emotionally poignant narrative that moves the series towards its inevitable final conflict. Better yet, it does so while layering in moral ambiguity and highlighting the most intriguing aspects of its main character and the world around her. But given how quickly it ends, how little real payoff there is within this specific episode, and the unfortunately standard stuttering and visual glitches (unless the opening credits were supposed to be nothing but a black screen with music playing) that characterize many of Telltale’s games, it didn’t quite reach the heights it could have.
Good. In general, worth picking up if you’re a fan of the genre, but doesn’t do much with their concepts or mechanics. May contain some big caveats. This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 console.