Telltale Games are the inarguable masters of crafting believable characters and scenarios. There, I said it. I loved their first instalment in the critically acclaimed The Walking Dead series, and it left me dying to find out how they’d continue the incredible story created within. Which new characters would threaten the peace? What horrific decisions would have to be made for the good of the group? And for the love of God, is Clementine okay?!
The game begins more than a year after the dramatic events of the previous seasons unfolded. I won’t spoil anything, but you now assume the role of Clementine – a young girl who is rapidly maturing in this unforgiving world. Clementine begins the game not phenomenally distinct from the girl she was in the previous episodes, but by the time the final credits role, she’s an entirely different individual. The same can be said for all of the characters who you come across. Development and adaptation are necessities in the apocalypse, and very few games manage to convey this quite as well as The Walking Dead Season 2. Though the details of the story are down to your control, the general plot revolves around your group trying to head North in order to find some sort of sanctuary… but it’s far from an easy trek.
For those unfamiliar with Telltale’s take on games, here’s a quick run-down of how exactly you’ll be playing your adventure: The game falls under the genre of ‘point-and-click’, though certain moments feel more akin to a third-person action adventure. You’ll enter an area, talk to people, interact with objects, then move on. But that’s it at its most fundamental level. Conversations with the incredibly realised characters often make you feel genuine emotions like empathy and guilt, which few games can truly achieve.
You’ll find yourself associating with certain individuals more than others, which makes the most dramatic choices even more considerable. Who should you save? Who should you kill? They’re rarely that blatant, but one small choice may lead to colossal repercussions. And perhaps the most commendable aspect is that these consequences feel like they’re truly yours. Although many segments may appear definite in hindsight, when playing the game, you feel culpable for your actions. Yes, certain moments feel unavoidable regardless of your decisions, but the game does a very good job of hiding this with believable reactions from its cast.
The graphical style of the game is something which seems to be more commonplace since the original’s release, with games such as Borderlands becoming evermore popular. The cel-shaded look makes the action and drama very comparable to that of a comic book, which is appropriate considering the brand’s origin. This also means that the game runs spectacularly on PS4.
The first title had slight problems where it would stutter and lag while generating segments of the game, but these issues are practically non-existent here. In fact, the only time in which the game seems to load things spontaneously with some struggle is in the ‘Next Time’ and ‘Previously’ sections, due to the game creating the content instantaneously based upon your previous choices. The audio is also top-notch, with voice acting in particular being stellar. I believed in some characters so much that, as mentioned, I felt empathetic towards them, therefore influencing the way I spoke to them in-game.
It’s difficult to talk about a game with ‘Season 2’ in the title without regarding the original. Is this a better game? No, I don’t believe it is. But is it still an incredible experience? Certainly. It’d be difficult to even amount to the powerful ending of the first game, but Season 2 does a very good job of trying.
I didn’t find myself connecting with characters quite as much as in the first game, and I feel like that’s because there’s no consistent, unifying relationship. Season 1 had that of Clementine and the protagonist Lee, and every decision felt like you were trying to protect your daughter-like companion. In this instalment, you meet a plethora of characters, but none feel as permanent as Clementine did previously. That doesn’t mean that these relationships feel worthless, but they lack the insurmountable depth of the first game’s.
Overall, The Walking Dead Season 2 is a game which will be enjoyed most by those who played the first. Some key characters make a return, and you’re given the freedom to mould Clementine into the person who you believe she should be. Even if you haven’t played the previous iteration however, this game is still worth playing through, as it provides a focus on story which is found rarely so well executed. Some variables within the story may feel unchangeable, but by the end, you feel like you’ve crafted an adventure wholly unique to you.
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