By _Mattallica 26 Comments
The difficult second album. Trying to follow up from something so loved is one of the hardest things to pull off in any medium. The stigma of whether you can continually reach the same level or whether it was just a fluke can be a very scary task. Expectations for Season 2 of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead couldn't be higher after the studio wowed us and picked up numerous awards for its first season in 2012. With a whole year of waiting beforehand, I couldn't wait to dive back into the world to see if lightning could strike twice for the series. And as far as first steps go, this definitely met my expectations so far.
After a quick recap of the first season we are thrown straight back into action however this time we are in control of the little girl we were first tasked with protecting, one little girl named Clementine. Make no mistake, Clementine is the star of the show here and Telltale know this. Putting her front and centre makes perfect sense after we established such a strong connection with the character and as soon as you start playing this episode you will remember all the struggles you went through previously.
The series is famous for it's gut wrenching, shocking moments and this episode certainly has its fair share of them. From the get go you will be tested mentally and will once again have to make difficult decisions under immense pressure. This is what the game is built upon and is still as powerful and meaningful as ever before.
There was however one section which I didn't feel had the same level of emotion as the rest. It involves Clementine coming across an animal and from the start it's inevitable which direction this storyline is heading. I felt it was cheap as its much easier to develop relationships with animals rather than humans in a short period of time and I felt it only served to give us yet another gut punch which was unjustified in the grand scheme of things.
Overall the game is incredibly tense at times and the sound design is excellent. It sets the tone perfectly and nails the setting of the universe. The episode features some action sequences which were very hit and miss previously but are definitely more fun to play this time around. They control similar to the combat scenes in Beyond: Two Souls, where you push the stick a certain direction to dodge that direction which works very intuitively.
I played through the game on Xbox 360 which is where I played all the previous content and my save file with all my previous decisions loaded fine. The game is still slightly laggy at times which was my biggest complaint with the last season which is slightly disappointing. It isn't immersion breaking but it can occasionally take you out of the experience. I hope it gets fixed in the upcoming episodes but considering its always been present I guess it's just something you have to deal with.
Towards the end of the episode there is a stealth section where you must sneak around a house to acquire different materials you are after. You can approach them in any order you like and the whole thing feels very tense as you crept past open doors as Clementine, worried you will be caught at any second. This is a completely new element to the series and I like that Telltale aren't afraid to try new things and adapt the series over time which help keeps the series fresh and exciting.
Visually the art style is unchanged and still looks as fantastic as it ever has. New character models and the subtle changes to Clementine are great and overall it is one of the most visually distinctive games on the market. Voice overs are excellent, with some lesser characters maybe less fleshed out than others, but most of the new characters are very well constructed and after a short period of time with them you immediately start to form opinions, be it good or bad.
One section which is bound to stand out is when Clementine has to make herself better after a rough encounter and is not for the faint hearted indeed. It seems to go on forever which I think is intentional and really is an unsympathetic, bleak scene which once again characterises this series perfectly. The end of the world is not a fun place to be and perhaps this series proves that point more than anyone else.
Overall the episode really feels like the aftermath of the first season, even the title says as much as Clementine is left completely alone in a scary world. The events that we previously went through meant something and we are now seeing the consequences, learning to survive without Lee for the first time whilst still using the techniques that he taught her. It really feels like the only way to connect the two seasons and with an interesting ending that forces you to make another split second difficult decision, it sets up the rest of season two incredibly well. Episode 2 can't come soon enough.