Telltale Games’ rendition of The Walking Dead is seen by many as one of the finest stories the interactive entertainment industry has ever told. Winning numerous awards and praised as being one of the best videogame releases of last year – including by your very own Electronic Theatre – The Walking Dead was an engrossing, progressive experience the likes of which had never been seen before. Now, one year on, our dear Clementine is back. But big changes lie in wait for fans lf the series.
The biggest shock arriving in this second season is the fact that you now play as Clementine. After spending several months wrought with fear as you do everything in your might to save her, you now take direct control of the young girl’s actions. One might wonder whether the impact of the experience would be diluted when playing as a child as opposed to indirect action that revolves around preventing her from being taken out of action, but Telltale Games have already proven that they’re more than a one-trick studio with the recent launch of The Wolf Among Us, and The Walking Dead Season Two was only ever going to build on that pre-established attachment to Clementine.
At the very start of the videogame the player is informed that The Walking Dead Season Two builds on the experiences they had in the first season, and so it’s recommended that you ensure your save data is located on the same storage device. If you haven’t yet played the original season, well, you’ve got a lot of catching-up to do. The Walking Dead Season Two make no apologies for its abrupt beginning; this is, after all, the modern videogame take on the television series episodic model.
The story continues several months after the end of the first season, with a few familiar faces immediately returning to their roles. Sadly, as is often the case in The Walking Dead, it’s not long until things go from bad to worse; it’s not long before Telltale Games take joy in shocking the player. A few seemingly idle decisions get the player back into the swing of things and then suddenly the re-established world is thrown on its end. This is the return to form that gamers have been hoping for this past year.
The player is soon introduced to a new mechanic coupling: inventory and item use. The Walking Dead was always intended to offer a modern renovation of the point-n’-click genre and in that regard the original series was wholly successful, if somewhat streamlined. The Walking Dead: Season Two now offers players the ability to collect items and even combine them in order to solve small puzzles. It remains a very simple affair in this first episode, but of course the expectation is that challenges will become more complicated than striking a lighter to set fire to some kindling.
As All That Remains continues the player is faced with some great moments of tension; demanding action, stealth sequences, life-or-death questions. The Walking Dead has always been at its best when it challenges the player’s perception and emotions, and The Walking Dead Season Two gets off to a flying start in this regard. It grabs the player with a sense of familiarity and then throws brand new challenges at you at every turn. It’s as analytically commanding as it is heart-wrenching. In that, The Walking Dead Season Two is starting with a bang, an introduction that reaches the dizzying heights that the original season only managed across five episodes. Where Telltale Games can go from here is a mystery, but Electronic Theatre can’t wait to find out.