If there is one thing that Telltale Games does well, it’s story. Despite an array of technical glitches that undermined the overall quality of both Back to the Future and The Walking Dead: Episode 1, the excellent standard of writing, genuinely emotional beats inherent within the story and the consistently top notch performances all combined to create experiences that transcended their technical faults – the same is very much true of Telltale Games’s latest.
Returning to the modern day twist on point-and-click adventuring that combined the best of the traditional genre tropes with more modern gaming design such as, well, actual movement I suppose, The Walking Dead: Episode 2, like its forbearer straddles the line perfectly between visual and interactive entertainment. Giving you just enough to do to and feeling genuinely involved while always managing to keep your attention firmly located on the characters and story, Telltale Games are continuing to prove themselves a company smart enough to know their weaknesses, but perhaps more importantly, talented enough to highlight their long list of unmatched talents.
While the pressure of living up to the promise of releasing one episode a month has clearly affected the technical quality of the product (Episode 2 could certainly do with a little more polish), there is no doubt that it’s Telltales’ talents for storytelling, characterization and presentation all rise to the top of this unique and highly memorable slice of interactive entertainment. Yes, you will notice the raft of bugs that pop up throughout your experience, but it’s testament to the quality of the product as a whole that you will find them so incredibly easy to ignore.
With the emphasis once again on having to make important, difficult, and at times, emotionally effecting decisions, Episode 2 takes the successful framework of the first episode and places it within the confines of an even more personal story. Replacing the panic of the initial breakout with the more human stories of coming to terms with the day to day reality of the situation that the survivors are left with, Episode 2 delivers less immediate and obviously dramatic choices with quieter, more deliberate and arguably more affecting ones. From choosing who gets to eat as food supplies run low to dealing with the complications that come with such an uneasy alliance, dealing with the ongoing relationships that have carried over from the first episode is rarely less than compelling stuff while making basic decisions regarding rationing are made to feel like incredibly important decisions thanks to the consistently high quality of the writing on display.
This won’t win over those who weren’t enamored by the first release (this is unsurprisingly more of the same), but there is no doubt that Episode 2 will continue to please the million plus gamers who downloaded Episode 1. With an even stronger narrative, increasingly complex characterization and an intensity inherent within just about every situation and dilemma that Episode 2 throws up, Telltale’s take on this much loved franchise continues to rewrite the rulebook on zombie bases videogames and once again justifies the surprise success of a series that continues to deliver first-rate, genuinely grown-up entertainment. Technical hiccups might well keep it from greatness, but one would be a fool to let those stand in the way of experiencing what continues to prove a fantastically memorable tale of survival.
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