Emotionally Charged ‘The Walking Dead: Season Two’
By Michael WORKMAN
Shambling back onto gamers’ PCs and consoles alike, Telltales’s point and click adventure, “The Walking Dead: Season Two” has arrived. Has Telltale once again created an engaging narrative that mercilessly pulls at our heartstrings like in season one? It gives me great pleasure to say that the short answer is yes. In fact, it is possibly even more emotionally involved than the first season.
In the first episode of season two “All That Remains,” it has been 16 months since the events of the first season. Clementine is now on her own, trying to cope with living in a post-apocalyptic nightmare of a world. The game doesn’t pull any punches and subjects Clementine to a lot of grief in just the first few minutes. After sustaining an injury in an attack in the woods, she is saved by a new group of survivors. But some in the group are not convinced that Clementine is trustworthy and it is up to the player to decide who they should trust to help them. If you enjoyed the unrelenting sadness and tragedy of the first game, then there’s a very good chance that the story and writing will pull you back in.
As a character, Clementine has changed a lot in a year. Not only is she slightly taller, but she has matured beyond her years. Clementine has seen so much death and some of the worst sides of humanity that her tone and manner have hardened. The once naive child who players knew has turned into a tough-as-nails young girl who is willing to do anything to survive. She has ditched the dress she wore when we first met her in the first season in favor of a more practical outfit for the zombie apocalypse: jeans and a T-shirt. Ironically, Clementine would chastise Lee for swearing in the first season, but now has no problem with it. Our protagonist may have changed, but has the mechanics of the game changed as well?
The gameplay of “The Walking Dead: Season Two” is almost identical to the first season; however, there are noticeable differences. From the start, dialog choices are much easier to read because they are displayed in a highlighted box rather than in small text against a background that might blend in. Not just the look of the dialog has undergone a revamp, but the choices reflect what a 10-year-old girl could use. For example, during a heated debate, the player has the option to appeal to one of the other survivors through the use of “sad eyes.” Depending on who is appealed to, there are different and sometime hilarious results.
Another notable change is the quick time events during action sequences. Movement and interactions seemed to have learned a thing or two from Telltale’s other graphic adventure title, “The Wolf Among Us.” Arrows direct Clementine where to move while bright red circles show where to strike.
Some fans were concerned that “The Walking Dead: Season Two” would not be as engaging as the first season since gamers control a child instead of an adult. Playing as a pre-teen girl is quite rare in games; this seldom explored angle was explained by Mark Darin, writer and designer at Telltale Games.
“I think choosing Clementine as a protagonist lets us really experiment in the way that the gameplay plays out … One of the things that is really special about it is that she is not special. She’s just a little girl dealing in this world of paranoid and intense people with zombies running around, and she has only herself to get through it. She’s not running around with guns. She doesn’t have any magic powers. She’s just doing everything she can to survive, as any one of us would.”
The first episode of “The Walking Dead: Season Two” brought high expectations since the first season is so beloved. Episode one “All That Remains” knocks it out of the park for the hard-hitting story line that seems to punch you in the gut when you least expect it.
During the events of the first episode Clementine had to bite the bullet and do something that proves she’s tough as nails. The release of the second episodes of “The Walking Dead: Season Two” and “The Wolf Among Us” should make this new year memorable.
This game receives a resounding five out of five. On an exciting side note, Telltale has recently announced it is working on a “Game of Thrones” title in the near future. Those who are familiar with how cheery and upbeat the “Game of Thrones” franchise is should feel right at home with Telltale. As one anonymous commenter exclaimed upon learning of this news, “Is Telltale trying to corner the market on tragedy?!”