‘The Walking Dead: Season Two’ game starts with a bang

Telltale Games’ “The Walking Dead: Season Two: Episode One ‘All That Remains’” shares a common bond with “The Walking Dead” television series. They’re both so good that the wait until the next episode can be excruciating. It’s been just over a year since the first game in the series concluded with what was one of the most heartbreaking scenes in video games.

That game set a high-water mark for the sequel. Not only does the first episode of game two, “All That Remains,” meet those expectations, but it exceeds them in only one episode with four remaining.

After a brief recap of the events in game one, game two puts you in control of Clementine, an adorable little girl forced to survive with the last shred of humanity in a zombie infested post-apocalyptic world. The struggle to maintain human civilization is one of the most interesting themes in these types of stories.

That couldn’t be more evident than in “All That Remains.” The world is no longer fit for children. The threat of zombies or savage humans who’ve lost any semblance of civility forces kids to grow up fast or die.

Clementine is still developing in her role as a lone survivor and though she may still display some of the innocence of her age, she is clearly being taught that no one can be trusted, no matter how friendly or innocent they may seem. The variety of unpleasant people in the game drives home the point that it really is all about survival of the fittest in a barren world.

Playing through the first game isn’t required, but the player benefits from a narrative standpoint by importing a saved game from the first season. Game two imports the choices made in the previous or randomizes the choices for new games. It isn’t entirely clear how the result of those choices will play out, but based on the first season, it is safe to assume that choice will affect the relationships and lives of the supporting cast.

That is the beauty of a Telltale adventure game. Fate may still control the final outcomes, but the player gets to choose the path along the way. Usually that means having to play a character that can be kind, indifferent or a jerk. It is truly amazing in the video game world so full of characters that are unemotional machines with no depth that one gets to connect on such a basic emotional level with the protagonist.

The emphasis on gameplay in Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” games are on exploring the environments that are staged in specific scenes and solving puzzles. Those scenarios will be familiar to anyone who has played any of Telltale’s previous games. I was a little surprised that some of the puzzles weren’t quite as difficult as I expected them to be. Part of me wonders if that is a way to introduce new players to the second game without turning them off with difficulty.

The dark, brooding comic book style cel-shaded graphics lend themselves perfectly to the zombie post-apocalyptic theme. There is a noticeable improvement in the game’s performance and voice acting. It’s rather remarkable that a grown woman voices Clementine so believably in some rather unsettling scenes.

“All That Remains” starts the second season out with a bang. I was looking forward to this game, but I didn’t expect it to grab a hold of me and throttle me like it did.

Telltale did a masterful job of creating a setting where gamers take control. Clementine is tested repeatedly in this first episode of the game, showing that she is a viable choice as the protagonist by showing her determination, courage, and in my case, her contentious attitude. Upon the rolling of credits, I felt a pang knowing that any wait for the next game in the series would be too long, just like waiting for the mid-season return of the television show.

 

Reach the reporter at michael.jerome.martin@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @nefariousmike