The Walking Dead Season 2

Episodes 1-4

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:  Telltale Games

Released:  December 2013 - July 2014

PC Requirements:  

  • OS: Windows 7

  • Processor: Core 2 Duo 2.3 Ghz or equivalent

  • Memory: 4 GB RAM

  • Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 1024 MB RAM

  • DirectX: Version 9.0c

  • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space

  • Sound Card: Direct X 9.0c sound device

  • Additional Notes: Not recommended for Intel integrated graphics

Additional screenshots - 1   Additional screenshots - 2  Additional screenshots - 3  Additional screenshot - 4

 

 

by flotsam

  

The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1 – All That Remains

And here we are again.

All That Remains isn’t a beginning, but a continuation, and it expects that you have played Season 1. If you have, you will be at home; if you haven’t, you really shouldn’t be here.

It isn’t a straight continuation, as Season 1 definitely ended (as opposed to stopped), but it hinted at more to come. Which is what we now have, several months later and with a few assumptions being made about how we got here.

It does though begin some new things, and in that respect is very much an Episode 1. A set-up for the next four episodes, with some new plot lines and people to introduce and settle down. This is reflected in the pacing, the violent punctuations notwithstanding.

Lest you had forgotten what sort of a world this now is, you are very quickly reminded that it is mean and arbitrary and self-interested. You can make it less so through some of the choices you make about what the characters should do, or you can do something else. Some choices are obvious, some less so, and I continue to try to do what I think I might do in the particular situation. Which can be downright mean and completely self-centred.

Not. Bitten. Yet.

One of the things that remains is Clementine, and she is both the playable character and the fulcrum for the story. She is what you would expect a 10 year old survivor of the first season to be – hardened yet vulnerable, grown up before her time but still a little girl. We have learnt not to get too attached to anyone in this game, but here’s hoping Clementine hangs in there.

New characters are prominent, although as yet they remain unknown. Inklings of their back story pepper the events, but by and large we know their names but not who they are. One whose name we know remains unseen, and there are hints at something being not quite right about him/her.

Everything else is as it was in Season 1 – the look, the gameplay, the way your choices influence how things play out. Saves happen automatically (and frequently), so wait for a save to have occurred if you want to exit without replaying a portion of the game.

Death also occurs, or perhaps not if you are quick to respond to the on screen cues as to how to avoid it. It might take a little getting used to, but if you have played before you know what to expect. I did however fail to read the on screen instructions when it came to using the lighter, so pay attention or prepare to be frustrated.

“This is gonna suck”

There is, as you would expect, violence, as well as language and a squeamish moment or two. Four actually, which is how many times I had to push the needle through the skin.

All That Remains is very much about the story. Some might say, especially given the pacing, that is only about the story and that gameplay is so straightforward that its more an interactive novel than a game. Certainly the puzzling in this episode is almost non-existent, but I don’t actually care. Stories told with as much class and pathos as these stand on their own, and too much traditional puzzling would undermine the “realism” that has been created.

In my recent review of Fables, I mentioned I didn’t care yet. There is none of that here, having been established in the first season and continued through Clementine. How many of the new characters I come to care about remains to be seen, but I did feel sorry for one of them even as I chose to end its life.

All That Remains tantalisingly sets the table for what is to come. There is nothing here to suggest that fans will be disappointed by what is still to be served.

The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 2 – A House Divided

Starting where we left off, things take a while to get going in this house, some early zombie evading notwithstanding. We get to know more about the group that Clementine is with, developing likes and dislikes as we do. I still don’t have the same commitment to any of them, but I do have a grudging admiration for a few, and have identified at least one I could probably sacrifice if it came to that.

The actual house (as opposed to the metaphorical one) is a ski lodge, and things start to ramp up when we get there. They go into overdrive just after the storm hits, and then into meltdown as we near the end of the episode. How many move on to episode three will have a bit to do with the choices you make in the last climactic scenario.

I thought this was the strength of episode two. Maybe the choices I made had, or will have, little impact, but on the only part I replayed I did manage to keep one extra person alive. It did feel like a lot of what I did, or said, will make a difference, which is one of the intriguing aspects of these games. 

There wasn’t a lot of gameplay going on, and certainly nothing you could call a puzzle, but that has never been the main strength. It’s the story and characterisation that drive these episodes.

The name of episode two says a lot about where the plot is at. In none of the episodes are you ever comfortable, but here there is a constant unsettling mood that has nothing to do with the dead. They are there, front and centre at times, but it’s what’s going on between the living that provides the edge.

In the middle of it all is Clementine. One moment baseball capped warrior, the next vulnerable little girl, she will make a lot of choices. One got someone killed until I replayed that bit, so they aren’t all benign. The episode ebbs and flows but is never quiet.

Perhaps it overdid the emotional flip flop – moment of kindness, horrible event etc – and the link between those two things lessened the impact the next time it occurred. But like those movies where you know right from the start that things aren’t going to end well for these people, so it is here, and so in that regard the continuing blows are nothing less than what you expect.

This House Divided does what part 2 of a 5 part product should – the bits and pieces sown in the first are starting to be pulled together and pushed into shape, one that I definitely felt responsible for. The Walking Dead continues to be intriguing and among the best things out there.

The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 3 – In Harm’s Way

If we ever doubted it, this is all about Clementine.

It’s also about the last great fight we will ever know. Liam Neeson would understand – live and die on this day.

The brutality is pronounced, all the more so because it’s the living doing it to each other. The lurkers are a side show this time – the real horror is inside the compound. Fans of the TV series will identify obvious similarities in characters and settings. Nothing wrong with that.

Some action sequences (with less than helpful key stroke instructions) punctuate what is essentially a blowtorch applied to Clementine. I have no idea what choices you will make, but she was hardened by mine. I can’t help thinking that it is in a good way, given the context.

The “next time” preview at the end has a voice over extolling Clementine not to let them take her down with them. I am certainly in a place where most everybody else is a liability. One I would have sacrificed is gone; another I should want to save is proving ever more harder not to just abandon.

Much is thrust upon Clementine. When there are plans to be hatched, the adults turn to her. There is an expectation now, as opposed to opportunism. It may not be fair, but it is what it is. Carver was probably right, and it is appropriate that she starts to hit back.

And when push comes to shove, you don’t turn aside.

The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 4 – Amid the Ruins

Starting where we left off, and ending with a literal bang, we are now one episode away from an end, but what sort of end I can’t imagine.

The strength of Clementine starts to make others seem weak, even whiney. I did think there could have been a little less leaving things to the 11 year old, but then my Clementine keeps stepping up. Perhaps if she had been less like that, the dynamics would be different.

Much of the tale is about when is enough enough, when is it ok to give in, when do your trusted allies become burdensome liabilities. Some of the choices you make are the direct result of those types of musings; others are more obviously just kill or be killed.

Someone talks about hardships burnishing some folk, and undoing others. There is a lot of that here, perhaps a little overdone. There were definitely times when I wanted to be rid of the lot of them, and just nick off with Jane, and it wasn’t helped by certain characters  becoming little more than additional warm bodies. True, the strength of Clementine contributes to that by comparison, but many felt like they were making up the numbers.

Which kind of brings us back to those themes I talked about. If they are now less than they were, do you walk off and leave them? Or do you remember what they were, and what they still might be, and grit your teeth and hang tough.

As I intimated, I have no idea how this will end. I do however have to replay the episode and make an obvious different decision to see how that might set us up differently.

Most of my decisions ended up being what less than 50% of other players have done, which is an interesting observation and a nifty game mechanic. Nonetheless, while my Clem stands in the maelstrom, I doubt theirs is at home eating cookies. Whatever the particular  decision, it’s still a ruthless world.

Can’t wait to see how it ends.

 

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB

PS – a rating will be given for the whole game at its conclusion

 

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