Last year, Telltale Games brought us a quasi-sleeper hit in The Walking Dead. We were enthralled with the story of a convict taking care of a sweet little girl on their trip to Savannah, GA trying to find her parents. Season 2 of the Walking Dead came out last week and we have the definitive review right here…check it out!
Telltale has been in the point and click adventure game for a few years now. Consider the mediocre entries of Back to the Future and Jurassic Park a mere warm up for what would up winning several Game of the Year awards for 2012 in the Walking Dead: Season 1. Telltale’s Walking Dead is more of a side story of the stellar graphic novels of the same name and not based on AMCs television show. Last year’s iteration was a smash hit for Telltale; WD not only won several awards, but also killed on the sales charts…so to speak. With accolades and cash aplenty, of course Telltale received the green light for a sequel. Even though they decided to wait until a few days before launching the game to tell anyone, sales should still be solid. The story, as always, is as spectacular as ever. However, there is a growing concern that needs to addressed by Telltale immediately before it puts their promising career in the grave.
Attention: There will be spoilers aplenty for the rest of the review; BE FOREWARNED!
At the end of the last season, we find our Clementine walking alone in the fields of Georgia looking for her semi-foster parents (Clem saw her parents as shambling zombies in Savannah), Omid and Krista. The previous scene, which was one of the most emotionally brutal scenes in any media that I have ever seen; Clem must decide if her best friend, protector and fill in father figure, Lee, should be killed before he turns into a walker or leave him to die and turn anyway. Regardless of what you decide, the outcome is incredibly difficult to witness. And that’s what Telltale has continually done best: make a great story and get you emotionally involved in its characters. This is something that carries over into Season 2 Episode 1 and will, more than likely, continue through the rest of the season installments.
The episode starts off with Clem traveling the wilds with Krista and Omid, seemingly meeting up with them after the events that transpired in Savannah (I guess they were those shadowy figures in the distance at the end of Season 1…? No one ever said differently). Krista is apparently very pregnant and Clem seems very distant, but otherwise the group is doing well. That all changes when a stupid bandit kills Omid and gets blasted from Krista in return. The next scene is months later (sans baby…that’s not explained either. Huh?) and Krista and Clem are struggling to make it up north where it’s cold and apparently much safer. The pair get separated, however, by some miscellaneous baddies. Clem finds herself alone, cold and hungry in the wilds; she does however meet a new sidekick in Sam the dog.
Everything seems to be going swimmingly at first; that is until Clem finds some food. Sam doesn’t feel like sharing so he takes a big bite out of our girl, Clem. Clem, of course, defends herself and ends up mortally wounding Sam. Here’s your first big decision of the game: do you leave Sam to die painfully, or do you end the dog’s suffering by slitting his throat? I choose the former and stumble into the woods. Clem’s wounds are draining and she stumbles not far from the dog. Zombies come out from nowhere and she tries to make a run for it. Her wounds prove to much for her and she falls to the ground. Right before she is overtaken by the shuffling horde, Clem is saved by some strangers.
Despite her “bite” the duo take her to a new camp filled with all kinds of personalities. The new group is skeptical of her bite wounds so they lock Clem in a shed outside to see if she turns. Well, our girl Clem can’t have that so she breaks out, grabs some needed medical supplies and stitches herself up (by the way, I hope no one who is reading this is squeamish…this is by far the most brutal five minutes in gaming history). While recovering from her self-imposed surgery, Clem is attacked by a zombie. The group rushes in and is stunned that she not only broke out and stitched herself up, but that she is bad-ass enough to kill a zombie by herself.
The new group takes her into their house and you find yourself going fishing the next day to earn your keep. While at the stream, you find a group of dead bodies. These bodies weren’t torn asunder by the walking dead, however, but are filled with bullets. While searching the remains, trouble ensues as you are attacked by several shufflers. The episode ends as you get split up from your group.
I will say this about the first episode of The Walking Dead Season 2: Telltale sure does know how to tell a great story. Right from the start you are back into the fray trying to protect Clementine from the evils of this new world. Having Omid killed like that really set the tone for the rest of the game. Also, introducing a canine companion (one in which I was getting ready to get attached to…no other Walking Dead medium has attempted such a thing) and having it be a villain of sorts was a great touch. We needed another camp to get involved with (a zombie’s gotta eat, man!) and Telltale delivered another great cast of characters including another potential father figure in Luke. There is also a great setup with some potentially suspenseful moments between Clem and Sarah (the girl of the group that’s closest in age to Clementine) as well as the mystery of the bullet-riddled bodies at the river. The clips from “Next time, on The Walking Dead” are also very intriguing and makes me think I was right about the ending of the last game…
I will say that I do have some major complaints about this game, though. First of all, where the hell did Krista’s baby go? Did she lose it in the birthing process? Was it eaten? Stolen? Who knows! It’s really not like Telltale to have a potentially brutal/emotional plot point and not exploit it; it’s not talked about once and it’s weird. Also, as much as this series is touted as having your choices matter, there is not one iota of your decisions that carry over from Season 1 or 400 Days. I hope that Telltale remedies this, otherwise I’m gonna be super peeved. Lastly, and most importantly, Telltale has to absolutely fix it’s engine. They HAVE to! There is absolutely no reason for a gaming company with as much money as Telltale to have lags, freezes and drops like this. It was bad in the first season, but not addressing the issue at all is very troublesome for a multitude of reasons: 1) 4 more parts of Season 2 2)4 more parts of The Wolf Among Us 3) Tales from the Borderlands and, most importantly, 4) Game of Thrones. How about this, Telltale…instead of continually making games, how about fixing the ones you have? Sound fair? Greaaaaaaat…
Overall, this is another fine game in a line of fine games from Telltale. I really just want to jump into the game and not only save Clementine, but to just swaddle her up and take her away from that terrible place. I’ve never been more emotionally attached to a video game character (or fictional character for that matter) as I have with Clem and it’s in no small part due to the genius of the writers at Telltale. In or for these games to be great, though, Telltale has to fix the engine. Please! Stuttering along a path absolutely takes away from the masterpiece that is the story and it should be addressed ASAP. I will never tell someone to not play this game, but I will say that if I had to do it again I would wait for the disc version so that I could play it and trade it in somewhere. Hopefully, my Season Pass won’t join the land of the dead.
Thoughts From Editor In Chief and All Around Good Guy, Trey Elliott
Telltale Games has become an incredibly frustrating experience for me in the last half of this year. After an amazing run on The Walking Dead’s first season, they’ve released the 400 Days tie-in, The first episode of The Wolf Among Us, and now the first episode in The Walking Dead Season Two, all with one incredibly blatant issue — the games run like a hot mess! The frustration comes in that the stories that are told in these broken games are completely incredible. Specifically, the start of your journey as a slightly older Clementine in All That Remains captures your attention and holds it from almost minute one, and it sets up what I expect to be an incredible new installment in this series. But the inexcusable frame-rate and loading issues hinder what should be a flawless experience. It really is a shame.