After the relatively disappointing fourth episode, it’s good to see Telltale Games deliver such a powerful finale. ‘No Time Left’ produces another highly emotional journey through the world of The Walking Dead that superbly wraps up the series and cements its place as one of 2012’s landmark titles. Though you could easily point out specific moments where ‘No Time Left’ falters, as an entire experience it is simply excellent. The problematic pacing that plagued Episodes 3 and 4 does not rear its ugly head, leaving the player with an enthralling adventure that segues perfectly between tense action, gripping dialogue, and slower emotional moments. The episode is certainly on the short side (coming in at under two hours), but this means that it never really drags, making ‘No Time Left’ a brief, albeit remarkable experience.
United against the common enemy.
The biggest downside worth mentioning remains the technical issues that have existed since day one on the Xbox 360 version. They return in Episode 5, but are admittedly less awful than they have been in the past. It’s still a shame these issues exist, making other versions of the game preferable, though players should not be off if the 360 is their only option. There are also one or two pace-breaking examples of The Walking Dead at its worst, where it forces gamers to quickly scour an uninteresting and mostly empty environment for the one object that will allow them to progress. Such moments are rare in this installment, however, and by the time you've reached the harrowing conclusion, such flaws are a distant memory.
The greatest strength of Episode 5 is not its inherent quality but its role as a finale. On its own terms, 'No Time Left' is a great episode. But as the culmination of all the toils that have come before, this episode is nothing short of sublime. Without spoiling certain events, 'No Time Left' demonstrates the series' strengths, why it will be remembered, why it will be missed, and why you feel like you were part of something truly special. It ties up a majority of the loose ends well and leaves enough plot points open for players to postulate on how the future will turn out. 'No Time Left' also, impressively, makes the gameplay matter. What has been a stumbling block carried over from Telltale’s adventure game past is used in such effective ways that it feels like necessary part of the storytelling. The developers even do an adequate job of making your choices more than a random act of choosing. As you interact with the mostly linear story, Telltale manages to use a very simple technique to make you aware that your past decisions did have actual consequences.
Safety is never guaranteed.
Simply put, ‘No Time Left’ marks a sublime ending to what has been a fantastic season. Consistently superb characters and writing, alongside other merits, have made this series one of most memorable gaming experiences of the year, and Episode 5 carries on this tradition due to its place in the franchise. If you've been following The Walking Dead, ‘No Time Left’ is for you. It’s the final example of why this series works. And boy is it effective.
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: November 21, 2012
Number of Players: 1
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC, Mac