The Walking Dead took 2012 by storm, winning Game of the Year awards from everyone between Spike’s VGA’s to Games Are Evil’s own Evilcast Podcast. As it turns out, the adventure game genre wasn’t dead after all and can actually tell a very compelling narrative. It was pretty quickly confirmed that The Walking Dead would be getting a season two which recently kicked off with its first episode, All That Remains. Telltale has been very hit or miss in the past, will they be able to maintain the high level of story telling this second season?
In Season Two you will play the role of Clementine, the young ward of Lee Everett through the events of Season One. The game takes place some months after the end of Season One and while Clementine is still young and vulnerable, she has noticeably grown up a little in The Walking Dead’s harsh zombie infested world. She grows up even more during the games opening sequence where a foolish mistake has dire consequences and Telltale’s grim storytelling picks up right where they left off.
Decisions you made in the first season and the 500 days DLC carry over into Season two which adds a personal touch that season one’s first episode didn’t have. That said, last season had a clear goal for the main protagonist pretty quickly. In this episode the theme is merely Clementine surviving. She doesn’t have a clear objective like finding her parents anymore. Thus you end up with a personal story with a character you’re emotionally attached to but without any ray of hope or light at the end of the tunnel. If future episodes don’t give you something to work towards, season two is just going to be a brutal display of characters you care about getting hurt. Not really a pleasant experience.
So far the “emotional narrative” of season two is purely fear. To Telltale’s credit, they nail it. Clementine is separated from her friends fairly early and being alone isn’t exactly fun. There is a moment where a mutual trust is established with Clementine that is suddenly and violently broken in a moment that completely changes the way she approaches other survivors from that point moving forward. Gone are the days where she feels bad about taking food from others. She is evolving into a survivor who takes what she needs to survive.
Like last season, All That Remains ends with a choice between two characters. This choice is made a little more interesting by the nature of the two characters and the events that lead up to the choice. At the time of my run through, the percentage of people going one way or the other were split 51% to 49%. Much closer and much more interesting this time around. Telltale is clearing learning from their past game and the way players behave.
Mechanically the game has had some small improvements. Most of the changes are superficial interface changes that help user interface have a more modernized feel. The changes feel less like those between sequels of a video game and more like the changes between seasons of a television show. This really is The Walking Dead: Season 2 and not The Walking Dead 2. Nothing revolutionary, but it cleans things up nicely.
All That Remains works as a good premier episode. It’s definitely more of the same, and it does a good job drawing fans of the series back in. It probably won’t do much for new players, though, just in the same way that you wouldn’t want to start with season 3 of Breaking Bad. Also, if you thought that season 1 was too much, season 2 is just gearing up to punch you in the gut.