Developer: Telltale Games | Publisher: Telltale Games | Played On: PC | Release Date: December 17, 2013 (PC, Mac) | Price $4.99 | ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language]
Telltale Games is on a quest to make sure every gamer knows their name! Just a week ago they announced they’re developing a Borderlands game with Gearbox, and confirmed rumors that a Game of Thrones tie-in is also in the works. And just four months ago we were given the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, a game based on Bill Willingham’s comic series. Phew!
But nowadays if you mention Telltale, what most fans are anxious for can be summed up in one word: Clementine. A game that took us all by surprise last year, Telltale’s The Walking Dead was a venture through a zombie apocalypse—a familiar video game premise that usually foregoes the emotional aspect. Thankfully Telltale filled that gap by showcasing Lee and Clementine, and with season 2 now here, we’re able to see how Clementine has fared since the much-discussed conclusion.
A third-person adventure game, The Walking Dead: Season One took us through a zombie-ridden Georgia through the eyes of Lee Everett. In the last episode we see (spoiler alert if you haven’t played season 1) Lee doesn’t make it, leaving a frightened, devastated Clementine to fend for herself, her fate unknown.
Episode 1 of season 2, titled “All That Remains,” reveals that Clementine is still alive and has reunited with Christa and Omid. You control her movements and dialogue choices—same mechanics as season 1—except having direct control of Clementine’s demeanor makes the gameplay a bit more personal. Season 1 created an attachment to Clementine’s wellbeing, so now having the ability to manage her reactions to situations makes that devotion all the more captivating. And if the first few minutes are any indication of the rest of Clementine’s journey, she has a long, difficult road ahead.
Exploration and dialogue is the key to the game, as always, but there are a few supplementary improvements. For instance, you can now walk slightly faster by holding the respective button—like in The Wolf Among Us—a small but appreciated addition when markers are far apart. That still doesn’t fix how awkward walking can be sometimes depending on wonky camera angles.
Certain objectives require more input than just pounding on a button to fill a meter, such as strategically hiding while on the move (as seen in The Walking Dead: 400 Days), sneaking around to gather items, etc. There are also some frantic instances with enemies that have you choose to look either to your left or right to find a weapon and choosing wrong may cost you. These moments liven up the action, making combat choices actually matter.
This episode truly begins to set in place Clementine’s lost innocence. Her dialogue choices read more accepting of her situation in comparison to her child-like ignorance in season 1. To see her rummage through a campsite foregoing toys for something edible to eat, or reminding adults how much the world has changed, is a haunting reminder of all she’s been through, and what it may be like to survive as a child in a world riddled with death and hardship. Which is what The Walking Dead has always succeeded in portraying, and it’s wonderful—even if heartbreaking—to see it still embracing that in season 2 (so far). That said, the writers are careful not to completely deprive Clementine of her moments of naivety—making for one believable and gripping character.
Saves from season one and 400 Days won’t play much of a role in “All That Remains,” given that the first episode is meant to serve as a buffer for newcomers and veterans alike, but Telltale reassures that past and future choices will ultimately matter later on. In the meantime, there are nuggets that tie-back to prior episodes for fans to appreciate.
Immediately after completing season 1’s “No Time Left,” and after wiping away the tears, I was desperate for answers: I needed to know that Clementine was safe—all thanks to Telltale Games’ great storytelling prowess at making captivating characters. Season 2 seems to be going in the same direction, in a more brutally direct way. There’s so much more I want to talk about, but that would spoil the experience that awaits you.
+ Clementine is back!
+ More action-heavy sequences
— Have to wait and see how choices will matter later in the season
9 / 10