Developer: Telltale Games | Publisher: Telltale Games | Played On: Xbox 360 | Release Date: March 4, 2014 (PC, PS3) | Price $4.99| ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language]
I’m upset. I’m upset with The Walking Dead: Season 2’s second episode titled “A House Divided.” I’m upset because I didn’t think the game could get any tougher—but it has—and it put me in situations I wasn’t prepared for. By now it’s to be expected that Telltale games will force you to make decisions that carry heavy costs, but nevertheless it still manages to be surprising how dire those consequences can be.
Episode 1 brought us back to the zombie-infested world of The Walking Dead, with a slightly older Clementine. She wears the burden of everything she’s been through on her sleeve; she’s a tougher version of her former self because she needs to be to survive. Circumstances have placed her with a group of strangers in the middle of the woods, who were distrusting of her at first but have come to think of her as one of their own… for now.
Season 2 has amped up the gruesomeness. With Lee no longer around to shield Clementine from the reality of the world, she’s forced to witness scenes a little girl her age shouldn’t even be around. If anything Sarah serves as a glaring difference of what Clementine’s life used to be, a child sheltered from the horror.
Depending on your play style, Clementine has more chances to be deceiving and manipulative in this second episode. Children can be pretty devious when given the opportunity, and Clementine is fully aware that her age and gender can be used to her advantage when appealing to someone’s soft side. It’s both clever and distressing to have Clementine play in the adult world this way, but it’s the key to her survival, especially once she confronts the ominous Carver. The fact that she often has to be the center of reason among adults who are instead conspiring against each other is frightening. Actually, the group tasks Clementine with important responsibilities to safeguard them, such as scouting the area ahead for danger; this further cements the idea that she is one of the more competent members.
We had little time to get to know the individuals in the group the first time around, and episode 2 makes sure to remedy that. Every character has their moment with Clementine to set in place their relationship. Luke in particular, who seems to be the leader of the pack, is one of the more appealing characters. He lightens the mood at awkward times, like before ordering Clementine to dispose of a zombie from behind.
However, it was a bit strange that characters that outright said they distrusted Clementine, thanks to my dialogue choices, changed their tune entirely in the second episode. I managed to piss off Carlos, Sarah’s father, in the first episode for manipulating his daughter to help me—his exact words were, “You’re not to be trusted.” Yet he still tasks Clementine with babysitting his daughter while he goes outside to look for the other members of their team. Of course, circumstance may have forced him to do that, but there are other character interactions that fall along the same vein. It’s not to say dialogue choices don’t matter, it’s just a reminder that despite some selections the story may require a character to act a certain way no matter what.
That said this episode is a glaring reminder how significant your choices can be, especially since the adults are consulting Clementine for advice. Situations intensify in more than one occasion, and as the voice of reason Clementine has some important decisions to make and sides to pick—it’s harder to be neutral this time around. There are a few action sequences in between all that decision-making; it manages to break up the campaign in chunks that benefit the story’s high points. There were no hiccups I encountered in my playthrough, except for the occasional odd camera angles that limited my maneuvering.
Callbacks to season 1 are made in dialogue choices presented, while those who played the 400 Days DLC will be reunited with a familiar face. The 400 Days inclusion was skillfully placed; it plays on your knowledge of this character’s background story, as well as any emotional investment you may have experienced in the time spent with them. Speaking of emotional, there are some moments that will tug at your heartstrings—one of those moments depends on whom you decided to help in the first episode.
Episode 2 “A House Divided” is a great representation of what Telltale does best: engrossing us in a dark world of secrets and deceit, where the walkers aren’t the only monsters lurking in the shadows. Clementine has matured into the type of survivor even the adults can trust with their lives, but that’s not necessarily a good thing—with each passing day her innocence slowly slips away. The touching moments and tough decisions had me yelling at my TV, and that’s exactly what Telltale set out to do.
+ Choices do matter, and they’re likely to sting
+ Clementine continues to grow before our eyes
+ Small amount of action sequences that are carefully placed to ramp up the story
9 / 10