Having won numerous accolades for its ingenious take on the episodic content genre, Telltale is fast becoming the golden child of gaming. Loved by many, many fans, the faithful recreation of The Walking Dead universe proved a lot of naysayers wrong, and gave back a good deal of credence to the TV tie-ins, especially after a number of duff efforts by TV companies to cash in on the success of their series’. In short, Telltale has done a lot of good work of late. The only real question I have is whether this version of The Walking Dead keeps the bar as high as it could be.
Of course, I’m trying to find problems here. The Walking Dead: Season 2 is an excellent tale of survival, replete with the copious quantities of main-cast death you’ve come to expect of the series on your tellybox. It not only covers the zombie apocalypse from a different angle from the series – a slightly more desperate one – but it also tells that story every bit as well as AMC does in live action. In short, this is every bit the game for real The Walking Dead fans. I wouldn’t say there’s quite the community angle written into the storyline, as that makes less sense in an interactive story, but in terms of dialogue and emotion, it’s as good as anything you’re likely to find in games.
One issue for me was that The Walking Dead: Season 2 felt like it missed something present in Telltale’s other, very similar, game The Wolf Among Us. It feels a lot more hemmed in than others. While this won’t be an issue for most The Walking Dead fans, for those looking for the best game in the genre, The Wolf Among Us is, for my money at least, a better game.
There’s also the question of how much of this genre can we take? It’s arguable that this kind of story-driven genre needs constant freshening up to keep it interesting. I did feel somewhat dulled to the narrative somewhere around halfway through, and it began to bring back flashbacks to season one. While this isn’t a major issue, I get the feeling that as the games keep coming, they’ll see less and less interest from gamers that are tiring of the genre.
But on to the positives. The Walking Dead: Season 2 has to be one of the most unlikely zombie stories, featuring a genuinely lovable main character in Clem. Despite featuring a good number of zombie apocalypse stereotypes, the story does feel reasonably new, and certainly tense as any game you care to mention. I guess that’s the real appeal of The Walking Dead: Season 2. This is a seriously tense game. You’re constantly on the lookout for potential jumps and scares, as well as the ever-present threat of those “Don’t do it!” moments present in every zombie flick. Regardless of how frustrated you get with the stupidity of the characters and their brazen disregard for the rules of surviving a zombie apocalypse, you’re always on your toes because ultimately, your life is the one that matters.
If you’ve not played this kind of point-and-click interactive story before, you’re in for a real treat. Far from being a soulless rehash of the TV series, this, much as the first season did, introduces many different storylines to the mix, fleshing out The Walking Dead’s world wonderfully. It does this with a combination of quick-time events, conversation trees and old-fashioned point-and-click. It sounds incredibly simple, and I suppose it is, but it works excellently to ensure you keep as engrossed in the narrative (which is the real draw) as possible.
Really and truly, you can’t fault The Walking Dead: Season 2 at all. It’s true to the source material, it’s enjoyably tense from start to finish, and it’s one of the most emotional experiences you’ll find in gaming. My only real problem as a gamer is that it does feel somewhat restricted in it’s scope. As a Walking Dead fan, I have nothing but praise for it, as it allows me to dip my toe into a different part of the series’ universe, and savour yet more of the terror of AMC’s zombie apocalypse.
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