Young Clementine has had it pretty tough of late. Her parents are long gone. Her companions have all died around her. She’s been taken hostage by a mad man who appears hell bent on making people suffer. Oh, and there’s a bunch of undead creatures lurking around every corner, but they’re only a minor affectation in this story.
Telltale Games’ interactive adaptation of The Walking Dead has finally crossed the line. It’s no longer about the way in which people fight for survival in a world gone mad, but rather the relationships between those people. It had always alluded to this, suggested that it’s purpose was to build on the relatively shallow foundations of interactive story telling in which the player can actually impact the events (more than just the statistics of how many bullets are fired into enemy skulls), and now its finally achieved it. The Walking Dead: Season 2 – In Harm’s Way is more tense and compelling than any other episode in the series, or any other interactive story for that matter.
It’s a lengthy endeavour, comparatively, likely to take an entire evening rather than just the bulk of it. It’s more gruesome, when people being scared, maimed, murdered and tortured in near enough every scene. It’s also heartwarming, compassionate and pleasantly surprising in places. It’s a rollercoaster, that’s for sure, but it also finally reaches that point which it’s teased for so long: who far could you go to survive?
Clementine is a child in age only. She is an adult in mind, but not yet body. Bill can see this – the same Bill who murdered her friends in cold blood in The Walking Dead: Season 2 – A House Divided – and eventually Kenny will see this also. Both of these men see something special in Clementine; only one would die to protect her.
And of course, whether this decision has to be made comes as a direct result of how you choose to play the character. We’ve been with Clementine for so long now that following anyone else’s story just wouldn’t feel right. She’s a rock, and in The Walking Dead: Season 2 – In Harm’s Way there are plenty of moments in which that’s exactly what you need. It’s okay to be scared, Kenny tells us, but it’s not okay to let that cloud your decisions, according to Bill.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 – In Harm’s Way is testament to everything that Telltale Games has been hinting they could achieve for so long. It’s a wonderful turning point for a series that some might was flagging compared to it’s predecessor, and yet it’s essential to have played that first series to have the bond established with the characters that makes The Walking Dead: Season 2 – In Harm’s Way so stimulating. As a standalone chapter The Walking Dead: Season 2 – In Harm’s Way is the finest of the second season so far, as part of a whole it’s making a strong argument for why The Walking Dead: Season 2 is the finest videogame of 2014.