Xbox 360
5 stars
Overall Grade
5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Game Itself
5 Stars
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
3.5 Stars
The Audio: Rating the Sound
4.5 Stars
Replay Factor
5 Stars

The Walking Dead: Episode 5 - No Time Left

Street Date:
November 21st, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
December 25th, 2012
Game Release Year:
Xbox 360
Telltale Games
Telltale Games
ESRB Rating:
M (Mature)

Editor's Notes

The following review assumes you’ve played the first four installments of “The Walking Dead” and understand to discuss this latest installment; spoilers regarding previous entries are unavoidable.


Telltale Games already had a solid reputation amongst gamers with their prior episodic game offerings including “Tales of Monkey Island,” new “Sam and Max” adventures, and their not groundbreaking, but enjoyable “Back to the Future” offering. “The Walking Dead” managed to buck expectations, by making a zombie game less about split-second action (ala “Left 4 Dead”) and more about what goes on in between attacks from creeping death; in other words, the often intense human interactions.

Over four installments, Telltale has built up a tremendously emotionally trying story, having players assume the role of Lee Everett; a prisoner turned group leader and protector of an orphaned girl, Clementine. As Lee and Clementine’s journey progressed to the epic conclusion laid out in the fifth and final installment, the aptly named, “No Time Left,” Lee’s group has changed, often as a result of player choices, most dramatically at the conclusion of episode four, where your attitudes and interactions with characters might leave some players racing against impending death, following Lee’s heart stopping encounter with a walker, but more importantly on a quest to save Clementine from a mysterious and sinister voice on the walkie talkie.

The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

It’s no shock that in the final fifth of the game as a whole, nothing’s changed from a game play standpoint. “No Time Left” is definitely dialogue and decision driven, saving the action-oriented moments for a few key sequences late into the game. To make up for the in-your-face thrills, players will be making a lot of decisions, often with little time to react and often meaning life-or-death for characters who cross Lee’s path. The game thankfully results in a payoff equal, if not greater in satisfaction and emotional impact of the previous installments. To make a long story short, now that Lee and Clementine’s whole story has been told, “The Walking Dead” justifiably earns praise as the best game of 2012.

If there’s one complaint to be raised, it’s that “No Time Left” feels like the shortest of the five episodes, but the interactions are quite rich in content and draw on actions from even the debut installments of the series, to remind players, that everything Lee has done to get to a resolution to his and Clementine’s story, matters, even if it’s not apparent at first. I obviously can’t spoil the ultimate conclusion to the story, but I will say, as a whole “The Walking Dead” is a game that is full of despair, genuine emotion, heartbreak and hope, and “No Time Left” hits every one of those points, multiple times.

The slow burn of the series’ episodic nature really let how you played Lee and Clementine’s story sink-in, and I’d argue, few players making it this far don’t feel some sort of connection and concern for how Lee and Clementine will end up. The folks at Telltale have thrown down the gauntlet for the entire game industry, proving one does not need ADD-levels of action game play nor the most crisp graphics available to make an entertaining game. Furthermore, the maturity of the entire series is a firm challenge to the vocal naysayers who argue games cannot be art. “No Time Left” as it’s own entity, but more importantly, as apart of this first season of “The Walking Dead” is a work of art and anything Telltale chooses to do, as a follow-up to this series (and yes, a season two is coming, although we have no idea what it will be about) has my money, day one, minute one, no questions asked.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The stylized look of the series continues in this installment, with solid colors and strong texture work; however, like prior installments, there are some technical hiccups. Apart from some animations not being as fluid as desired, the framerate can still drop during cutscenes as the game engine has to adjust for changes in the narrative based on your decisions. While some of these snags can be jarring, it doesn’t detract terribly from the immersion in the game. The bottom line is the game as a whole will never be flawless in the visuals department unless, what now seems like unavoidable, technical glitches are completely wiped from the game engine.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Nothing in the game, save for the voice work, in “The Walking Dead” games fights for the spotlight in terms of being outstanding. As with other titles, the game goes for a realistic, if minimalist sound design with silence or the most subtle environmental sound effects providing handfuls more tension than a cloying creepy score or cheap jump effects could ever dream of. Effects are naturally and cleanly mixed, providing immersion, while the voice work once again is top notch.

Replay Factor

Now that the final chapter in the first season of Telltale’s “Walking Dead” has been written, the satisfying conclusion, coupled with the numerous split-second decisions the player is asked to make as the game draws to a close firmly illustrates that if one so desired, replaying the whole saga would be a fulfilling experience. On the other hand, the way the game played out, in installments, might make one hesitant to even see an alternate path, having grown attached to the characters over several months, one playthrough is frankly, just as satisfying. It all comes down to personal preference, but there is unarguable replay in this game.

Final Thoughts

Smart, brilliantly executed, and heartbreaking, the fifth and final chapter of “The Walking Dead” is not only the finest episodic game released to date, but worthy of being called the 2012 Game of the Year. It might not be as visually stunning as your cookie-cutter annual franchise offerings, but it’s the heart and raw emotion, professionally conveyed through smart, careful planning and writing, that elevates it beyond a mere game to a work of art, that frankly, surpasses its source roots and television counterpart.

Tech Specs:

  • Digital Download

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 720p

Audio Formats

  • Dolby Digital 5.1

Motion Controls

  • No

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