I loved The Walking Dead Season 1. It was a masterclass in how to narrate a game, and how to build a world to make you feel that your decisions and your progress in the game actually shaped and formed the world you encompassed. Many agreed, with the original winning many awards and having a hand in Telltale games being able to grab franchises such as Borderlands and Game of Thrones, ensuring their dominance of the story telling adventure game genre was theirs and theirs alone. Season 2 is a return to their routes, the series that got them on the map, and is certainly one of the most anticipated games to release for a while.
The game starts you out from the offset as clementine, you won’t be controlling anyone else this season, so you best get used to being a small child in this frightening and gruesome world. You’re with two members of the old party from the first season, and things seem to be going fine, until events take a turn for the worse. Suddenly, Clementines alone and having to fend for herself, and its not long until you come across a camp with a lonely dog who seems both cautious of you, but also helpful in trying to get a common goal for the two of you: food. It’s here that I found one of my first annoyances of the game: the lack of choice in your decisions. Once you manage to find food for the pair of you to eat, you get the decision of whether to share your food with the dog or not, to which I chose to, as no one in their right mind would want to anger an animal when they’re alone and hungry. To my surprise, the dog decides to attack Clementine, and so begins a QTE to ensure you manager to survive this ordeal. Now, this emotive sequence of helping a dog for it to suddenly turn on you definitely tugged at the heart strings, especially when you have the choice on whether to put it out of its misery or not, but it was the lack of decisiveness in my decision that annoyed me. It was apparent as soon as I made the decision about feeding the dog or not that I actually never had a decision to begin with, with the game just giving me the illusion of choice rather than actually giving me a decision to make. The Walking Dead Season 2 has a narrative it wishes to fulfil, and player choice will not play a part in it.
The story continues with Clementine being found by a group of survivors who manage to save her from a bunch of walkers, to then find she’s bitten and believe it’s from an infected. It’s here Clementine becomes a true player in the game rather than being mummy-coddled, with her arm infected and no one willing to help her until the morning, she must fend for herself and fix it herself to stop the wound from getting infected and potentially dying as a result. You’ll sneak around the groups house, and find the supplies needed to fix yourself up before heading back to the shed they locked you in in order to fix your wounded arm. The next scene where you have to stitch Clementines wound together was gruesome, but necessary in order for players to realise that Clementine is her own person now and can fend for herself.
Like previous Walking Dead Episodes in Season 1, you’re given a cliff hanger to finish the episode on, with one big decision on who lives and who dies. I won’t say who I decided on, but it seems like this decision too wasn’t in my hands and was going to be the same regardless of who I chose. It all felt contrived and annoyingly so, like this wasn’t my story anymore and instead I was just a pawn in the writers Chess board.
I look forward to getting tucked into the second episode, but am a bit worried as to the direction this season is taking. I’m not a huge fan of the lack of decisions I have (they all feel contrived so far, like I don’t actually have a say, a far cry from the originals ability to make you feel that everything was your fault), but I feel the story may get better with all the new characters that its introduced.
I’ll review each episode individually so we can see how my mood changes as the season goes on.