The Walking Dead: Season Two - How Will Your Version of Clementine Turn Out?
Season One of Walking Dead saw Lee and Clem (and players) go through an intense amount of hardship and pain as they were faced with both difficult and cruel decisions, that culminated in one of the most touching yet bitter video game endings. Season Two promises even more as Clementine's world is rocked once again when her new family is taken from her during the first half hour of play. This would have left us with a measure of comfort if their deaths mattered but, true to the nature of the series, they are taken away too quickly. Just when their on-screen lives were starting, it ends abruptly and you're left wondering how much worse things can get. Continue Reading
Release Date: 17th October 2013
Available on: PS Vita, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Windows, PC Download
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Gameplay: Prepare for Feels
The sense of never being totally satisfied with an event's outcome is summarized masterfully by Lee in a timely dream sequence when he said "sometimes there's no right answer". The prologue may be harsh, but it's a necessary step to temper your expectations for the rest of the game. You'll be surprised at just how far people would go to survive. Without Lee to keep her from harm, Clem will have to contend with the evils of the world alongside a new group but for the most part, on her own. What's an eleven-year-old girl to do?
Every episode in The Walking Dead: Season Two may be a mix of good and bad events but as a whole, it makes for a compelling interactive story. Compared to Season One wherein the group depended on Lee to make the hard choices and he has more of a participative role in the story, Clem's decisions usually only affect how the characters react to certain situations. As the player, you have the freedom to dictate how Clem's personality evolves throughout the game. Is she going to retain some extent of optimism despite being reminded to toughen up or is she going to end up hardened by the constant barrage of tragedies? Unlike the first game where she had Lee to act like a buffer between her and every difficulty that comes along, the episodes in Season Two make it possible for Clem to get blood on her hands.
Although she is quite young, oftentimes her companions expect her to have the answers. At least, when it comes to validating their own actions. When tensions are high, she is held just as accountable as an adult and sometimes, even double the blame. Just as we loved the first game for it, we're hooked on the continuous moral dilemma of Season Two. The dialogue choices even give Clem a couple of opportunities to remind the group that she's just a child, indicating that she is well aware of the unreasonable expectations placed upon her.
Delivery: Gritty and Unapologetic
To say that we were pleased with Season Two is an understatement. Sure, it's not as gritty as the first game without the deranged kidnapper and all the cannibals but the internal conflicts in the sequel are incomparable. From start to end, Clementine will be in the center of it all. She'll be pushed to play favorites during critical moments, most especially when a certain character from the first game makes a comeback. The story is still stellar and the signature Telltale Games' choice-driven delivery is equally impressive. For the most part, the graphics haven't really changed from the first game. And to that we say, why change something that's not broken? A cel shaded look allows the character models to deliver believable emotion without sacrificing a stylized, screen capture worthy look and that's just fine by us.
As we've mentioned, the game is well-written although the subtleties of group discord may be lost on those who are simply looking for unadulterated drama. In terms of being unique, well, having a young protagonist is a breath of fresh air when it comes to a genre involving the undead. Her limitations and struggle to grow up by her own devices is, at the very least, interesting to watch. Having another little girl in the group certainly helps with the contrast and adds some depth in terms of character development.
On the downside, some themes do get overemphasized, especially when it comes to the returning character's violent outbursts. While it's not totally unacceptable or understandable considering that character's unique circumstances, we did find that it somehow overshadowed other, more interesting, conflicts among the survivors.
Side Note: Occasional Issues
While the nuances of themes and character screen time are things which are subject to opinion, technical issues are not. Graphic glitches and non-critical skipping aside, the title could have used a more thorough bug testing.
Although we were able to play the first four episodes with ease on the PS3 version of the Season Two, we were not as lucky just before the finale. Around half an hour into the fifth episode, the game froze and needless to say, we had to start the whole game from scratch. There was no way to load any of the previous episodes we got through with meticulous attention to decision-making. There was just more freezing and finally, a less than enthusiastic replay of the whole game. Search around and you'll easily find the unlucky souls who have experienced the same. Not that it ruins the game completely as you can manually delete your game and start from whichever episode is personally critical, but it is a huge bummer.
The Verdict: A New Perspective
So should you play The Walking Dead: Season Two or avoid it like the zombie virus? Well if you're even a bit curious how Clementine turned out, then the answer is yes. If you're looking for more of the same horrific scenes from Season One though, then this may not be the game for you. There's less cringing here but it is replaced with a healthy dose of post-apocalyptic drama.
The Verdict: 89/100
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The Walking Dead Season 2 is developed by Telltale Games.