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Review | The Walking Dead: Season 2, making hard decisions

by on August 28, 2014
 

I have to say I’m starting to become a fan of episodic games, the whole nature of them making the suspense that much higher when you have to wait a few weeks for the next installment of the story.  I really enjoyed the first season of Telltale’s brilliant The Walking Dead, and season two did not disappoint.  Never have I had to make such difficult choices in a game before.  Since this game is very plot heavy, and your choices make a difference upon the outcome, I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, but in case you want to avoid any spoilers at all, I suggest you just scroll down to the score.

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Like the first season, The Walking Dead: Season 2 is broken up into five episodes, each consisting of about 2 to 3 hours of content.  Your decisions determine many things, whether it’s how certain characters think of you, or even down to who lives or dies.  Some choices are completely optional and can be just to dig deeper into the plot, or even to create sentimental value with certain characters.  While playing the first four episodes, I didn’t think my choices really changed the game all that much, but by the very end, I saw where I was wrong.  My choices throughout the game made those final plot points that much harder to decide on, and even finishing the season, I don’t know if my choices were really what I wanted.  The game has a few plot twists, and really knows how to pull at your heart-strings during the emotional moments.  There was even a point in time where I thought that part of the story never really happened in the first place.  The writing of this game really shows just how far we’ve come in this medium of storytelling, and it really shows why this series is so well received.

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As many may know, this season takes place from Clementine’s perspective, as players will develop the young support character from the first season, making her grow into a hardened survivor.  The lessons she learned in the first game prepare her for these moments, and she continues to learn with each passing moment.  She may only be only 11 years old, but she is a very strong character in her own right, and she’s forced to make tough calls that make her earn quite a bit of credibility with the rest of the cast of the game.  I will even go as far as to say I find Clementine to be a stronger character than the protagonist of the first season, Lee.  You’ll find some characters from the first season returning, even if it’s only momentarily (though not for the reason you might think), but most of the cast will be brand new characters.  Some of them, you will hate, but others you may grow to love, and even the ones you dislike will affect the rest of the characters, so it makes for tough calls in the heat of the moment.  Even characters you may like can turn on you at the last moments, only to make it that much harder to trust people in the game.  Sometimes, it’s not even their fault, but their bad decision-making doesn’t excuse the fact that you have to choose how things play out.

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Now as far as the gameplay goes, it plays very much like the original game.  A point and click style adventure game with seldom action sequences.  This season adds a few notable features, such as directional quick time events, or even just adding the ability to move faster by holding down one of the buttons.  The story sequences seem a bit more seamless as well, as your decisions don’t seem to throw the game off as much as previous games from Telltale, making many of the character reactions seem more natural.  You’ll make a lot of choices in dialogue sequences, most of which will be on a timer that varies depending on the intensity of the situation.  You’ll gather items to progress the story in some sequences, and even do a bit of shooting as well.  There will even be a moment when you’ll learn a few new combat techniques that add a bit to the gameplay.  Even though there wasn’t much that could be done to make it feel new, Telltale still found ways to improve the core gameplay.

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The game maintains its great art style inspired by the comic books of the same name, and has many bright colorful moments, as well as many dark and bleaker sequences.  It’s a great variety and the color choices really help set the mood, almost like how a painting sets a certain mood of its own.  The music is very fitting to the game as well, and even has some very well written songs at the end of each episode, doing well to set the emotions you may or may not be feeling at that very moment.  The rest of the audio is also very well done, as the sounds of the undead are about what you would expect, and the voice acting is solid.  I don’t feel like any of the characters underperformed, and I feel like the biggest improvement comes from the voice of Clementine herself, Melissa Hutchison.  She really grew into this role and helped define Clementine as the strong character she is.  Despite Clementine’s young age, she experienced many hardships, lots of tense action and dialogue, and even conversations that no 11-year-old should have to hear, but with the character development and her voice, Clementine becomes a very believable character.

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The Walking Dead: Season 2 is a fantastic story, a lengthy adventure, and a gripping set of choices that make for a brilliantly done game.  I don’t know how Telltale will continue the story, as earlier this year, they confirmed there would be a season 3.  What I do know is that they are clearly the right team for the job, and nobody does this genre of adventure games justice quite like them in this day and age.  It’s also unknown if there would be a separate piece of DLC included in this season, much like The 400 Days DLC that told a bit of a side story for the events of the first season.  Whatever the case, zombie enthusiasts, adventure lovers, and even just fans of emotional storytelling, do yourself a favor and pick this series up, you won’t regret it.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

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