Some thoughts on the Walking Dead's second season and on why I have issues playing as Clementine

So, I just finished The Walking Dead's first Season 2 episode, and while I really enjoyed it, just as i had thought before it came out, I have some issues with playing as Clementine.

In the first season Clem was pretty much your main reason to keep going, keep trying to stay alive and most of all to keep your humanity (because you just didn't want to hurt or disappoint her). All of this drive is now obviously gone. And while it's still easy to sympathize with her, and try and keep her out of harm's way, it just doesn't evoke the same protective feelings.

My main gripe with being in control of Clem is something else though.

In this bleak and hopeless world you are constantly feeling lost and powerless, which of course, is intended. But throughout all the hardships you had one very important thing going for you: the weight and power your opinions and decisions held.

Now don't get me wrong, of course you can still make important decisions as Clem and play her as kind of a bad-ass in the conversations, but it's still very different to how you could handle yourself as Lee, for one reason only: Clem is still a child. Or should I go ahead and say just a child.

Adults will always treat a child differently and never take her opinion as equal to everyone elses. A fact that won't change no matter what you do, or how bad-ass you play her.

So now we are in a hopeless situation, playing as someone who is inherently powerless. Which, in my opinion, just isnt the best way to experience this kind of story.

Of course its gonna be really interesting to see how Telltale will handle this situation, and I have every confidence in them making the whole thing an enjoyable experience, but there still remains this little shadow of a doubt, that simply wasnt there in the previous season.

7 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by ElCapitan

I think that having to play as a less powerful character ratchets up the tension a bit. Not being able to be taken seriously or have your opinion valued makes for a more frustrating situation, but it's just more interesting.

On the other hand, Carlos put it best when talking about Sarah: "She's not like you." Maybe he doesn't say that in everyone's game, but characters in my game aren't treating Clementine lightly or ignoring her input.

Edited by Heycalvero

I'm sure that her being treated as a child, even though she is at this point far from it, will be one of the main themes of this season.

I personally think it's a really interesting choice to make us play as Clementine. Now that Lee isn't there, as a main character and avatar of my protective feelings, I (the player) am directly the protector. Now that there's no mediator between me and Clementine anymore, the relationship there is intimate in a new and interesting way.

Edited by JasonR86

I like the idea of playing a child in a game full of adults. I think it makes for a more interesting game. Playing as Lee was fun but he always felt so capable and in control. And that's what most games are about. A game where that doesn't happen is intriguing.

Posted by stryker1121

Clem becoming empowered in this bleak world will be a big part of the story, I'd wager.

Posted by ZolRoyce

Clem becoming empowered in this bleak world will be a big part of the story, I'd wager.

Agreed, very much.

I'm all for a change in the dynamic of how you play a character in a game. I loved Lee, loved playing as him, but if I played as someone else who was in the same amount of control as he was then it would just get boring to me, change it up.
However with that being said I don't feel as though there has been that much of a dynamic shift yet, everything that happened in the first episode to Clem could have easily happened to Lee as well.

Posted by Wrighteous86

I think playing as Clementine is smart in that it puts you in a radically different situation than Lee was in. You are constantly in danger, even with your "companions", you're talked down to, you're not intimidating or respected. So in that sense, I think it's a great choice.

However, I think it takes away a bit of what I loved from Season One. In many respect's, Lee's story was a story of parenthood. He was tasked with caring for a little girl, and most of your interactions with Clem clearly revolved around teaching her who to be in this new world; life lessons, important skills, interpersonal relationships. Forcing her to cut her hair and forgo vanity for practicality, teaching her to shoot and when it is or isn't appropriate to do so, etc. You were also required to determine when it was appropriate to allow her a bit of humanity, faith, and naivete, like with the car full of supplies. Like all parents, you're balancing preparing her for adulthood and allowing her to be a child and see the good in things.

Passing on your beliefs, preparing her for the real world, and ultimately sacrificing your own health and sanity to make sure that she comes out all right. Like all parents, Lee prepared Clementine for a world that he wouldn't live to see. All parents know (or hope) that their children are going to outlive them. When your child becomes an adult, and when you are nearing the end, it's all about just letting go, saying goodbye, and praying with everything in you that some of what you taught them sticks, and that they'll be better people due to their interactions with you.

Up until that last moment, my Lee was teaching Clem about the importance of sticking with those you trust and about being practical above being emotional. I let her go as I turned. I had no idea what challenges Clementine was going to face without me. I didn't know what lessons I imparted were important, and which were a waste of time. All I had left was hope that I prepared her for the real world that lay ahead of her. Lee died without ever truly knowing what was going to become of Clem. I think that's a feeling all parents can eventually identify with.

It was a deeply affecting scene, and a great metaphor. Taken on it's own, without knowledge of the sequel, we're left with the same lack of closure, but the same overriding sense of hope that Lee is left with. We were Clem's parents, saying goodbye and hoping against hope that it would all work out.

...With the 2nd season, we learn what Lee never could. We find out that she meets up with Omid and Christa. That she holds on to a picture of Lee. That she's become even more resourceful and strong as a person. And on some level, I'm so glad that I get to see more of Clementine's story. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't think it took something away from the ambiguity of Season One's ending.

Edited by Sessh

@wrighteous86:

I certainly agree with your sentiment, but it's also part of the problem for me.

Like you said, you as Lee brought her up, and hoped that she had learned everything she needed to learn from you before you had to send her on her way.

But now, you kinda can and can't see her act upon what she learned, since ultimately, you get to make all the important decisions for/as her again. I think seeing her follow your teachings from another perspective (meaning as another person) would ultimately have made everything you did in the first game more meaningful.