NOTE: This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
So here we are, with the beginning of Telltale Games‘ second season of their critically acclaimed Walking Dead game. As someone who generally played the games as they were released through the first season, and the additional story found in the bonus episode entitled “400 Days”, the wait for a second season had seemed agonizingly long. When it was first released in December of 2013, many horror fans flocked to the game like moths to a flame. I have done my best to try and withstand the game until all of the episodes were released, but after the fourth episodes release in July of 2014, as well as a sale on the Xbox Marketplace offering the game’s season pass for half price, I could no longer hold off. So join me as we continue Clementine’s story from the first season, and see what Telltale has to offer us.
The game begins with a montage of scenes from the first season to bring players up to speed, especially those who are starting fresh with this season. We then move seven months forward past the end of the first season and find Clementine travelling with Omid and his pregnant wife Christa, the only survivors from the first season. Before the credits even roll the group stops at a rest station and decide to get cleaned up. While Clementine is in the washroom, she drops her water bottle onto the floor and it rolls into a stall. She leaves her gun unattended and a random girl comes in and takes it. She begins threatening Clementine, while Omid sneaks in to help her. Unfortunately, as the door slams shut, the stranger is alerted and she shoots Omid in the chest, killing him. Christa busts in and shoots the stranger, leaving just her and Clementine. The credits roll and we move forward sixteen months. Clementine and Christa are travelling north, and no mention is made of her baby, allowing gamers to make their own decision on what happened.
Shortly after Christa is surrounded by a group of hunters, and you have the choice as Clementine to distract or go your own way, and regardless of your decision, you are separated from Christa and the new season’s story truly begins. Now on her own, Clementine comes across a dog who bites her, and ventures off on her own. Soon she is saved by a walker attack by two men who take them with her. They soon see the dog bite and there is a confrontation over whether or not it is truly a dog bite or a bite from a walker.
You soon meet the rest of the cast of characters for the episode who are all living in a house in the woods, many of whom are understandably hesitant to take her in.
To go further into the storyline of the episode would be robbing any potential gamers of the fantastic storytelling that Telltale has presented for gamers. There has been a longstanding argument that games cannot be a true form of art and storytelling, but that has changed in recent years thanks to games like Bioshock and the first season of The Walking Dead. Telltale could have simply taken the easy way out and used the popular television show as a backdrop, but they chose instead to focus more on the comic style and storytelling and create their own “alternate” timeline if you will. This was possibly the smartest thing they could do, allowing them to stand on their own while also giving a perspective on an already existing universe. And the storytelling that both seasons offer is one of the best I have ever seen in my life. I have been gaming since a very early age, easily well over 20 years at this point, and I cannot recall a single time in the past that a game has moved me or had an emotional impact much like The Walking Dead does.
The only true problem with the first episode is that it is just that, the first episode. Much of the episode is focused on introducing us to new characters and setting the stage for the remainder of the season. For players who have already endured through the first season this is a bit of a hamper, as we have already been through an incredibly similar scenario, albeit from Lee’s perspective as opposed to Clementine. All that said, there is never a point where you feel like this phase of the story is hampering to your enjoyment of the game or story.
Once again given that this is the first episode and we are being introduced to new characters, there is a lack of deeply consequential choices, but Telltale still chooses not to shy away from difficult moments. Whether it be choosing to kill the dog that bit you or leave him to die in agony, give water to a dying man or the brutal scene where Clementine must stitch herself using fishing wire, there are definitely moments where you know this is a game deeper than your standard fare. It certainly doesn’t help knowing that there are four further episodes in which difficult choices will need to be made, and we as the players need to live with the consequences of those decisions.
In the interest of allowing readers to follow along with me as I embark through the season, at the end of each review I will post the list of choices that the game provides you with at the end of each episode. This will allow everyone to see not only my choices as I progress, but also how my choices are as compared to the many other players venturing into the game’s universe.
Did You Try To Save Christa? – Myself and 84.2% of players stopped to help Christa.
Did You Kill The Dog? – Myself and 82% of players killed the dog.
Did You Accept Nick’s Apology? – Myself and 12.5% of player did not accept Nick’s apology.
Did You Give Water To The Dying Man? – Myself and 32% of players refused water to the dying man.
Did You Save Nick Or Pete? – Myself and 52.9% of players went with Pete.
That wraps us up for Episode One “All That Remains”. Stay tuned for Episode Two, “A House Divided”!