Monday, December 23, 2013
When it comes to comic book properties, few are as hot as The Walking Dead is these days. Robert Kirkman's tale of survival that started out as a comic book has brought in consistently high ratings as a television show and was recently adapted by Telltale Games into a video game. Many outlets lauded The Walking Dead Season One as one of the best games of the year last year, so a sequel was an inevitability. For those dying for that sequel, you're in luck as Telltale Games has just released The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains.
The version played for this review was for the Xbox 360.
Clementine returns for the second season of the game, a little more hardened from the events of the first season. She's seen more than most children her age should see, but some it still pales in comparison to what everyone else in the world has seen. She's separated from her group of survivors and manages to latch on with another group, but not without the requisite mistrust and disdain at her arrival. Thankfully, she manages to take the lessons from the first season to heart, giving her more than a fighting chance of making it another day without being zombie bait.
If you played the first season of The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains should be largely familiar. The same dynamic decision-making gameplay is still on full display, with players forced to choose among four different dialogue response options in most situations. Those response choices have a direct impact on multiple facets of the game, including character interactions and future decisions being offered. It's a style that's very much choose your own adventure and affords the player a great amount of versatility as to how they want to play the game. There's also a healthy mix of quick-time events mixed in as well, keeping the player on their toes and always at the ready to mash the A button for instance or hit right on the joystick to dodge an oncoming zombie.
From a story standpoint, The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains trades in despair and difficult choices. It's not meant to be a happy game and Clementine continues to be put through the ringer. There are points where the dialogue is a little cheesy, but for the most part Clementine maintains her youthful innocence and ever-growing view of the bleak world. There is a drawback for those who haven't played the first season, as The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains pretty much picks up immediately after where the first season left off. It's not required that you play the first season, but if you didn't then the game randomly decides how you would've responded to certain scenarios in the first season in order to dictate the direction of the second season.
Along those lines, because the game draws so heavily on the first season, you'll miss a lot of Clementine's backstory if you didn't play it. What's more is that the things she went through in the first season seemed a lot more trying and it also gave the gamer a chance to get to know the cast of characters she surrounded herself with. Introducing a new group of survivors that Clementine has to assimilate into is a little daunting for the gamer, mainly because they're not learning about them as they play. Instead, you're forced to piece together their past based on interactions with them and how they respond to Clementine's presence. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does take away a bit from totally being immersed in the story.
The art in second game maintains the same style and it's very attractive. Telltale Games relies on the cel-shaded look to relay to the gamer the dire straits the world is in and the style is accented by a very dark color palette. Clementine is very innocent looking and all the other characters are illustrated in ways that present a diverse cast of characters all forced to survive the apocalypse together. Settings also manage to be illustrated rather lushly, accented by the occasional zombie polluting the landscape. There were some graphics issues in the game though. For instance, at one point you're in a house where you're going from room to room. In two of the rooms, there was a character just standing there in the middle of a conversation with another character. It's clear that the character shouldn't have been there and--in fact--they were just standing there like a mannequin. It didn't kill the experience, but it made it difficult to see the character you're really trying to talk to.
The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains picks up right where the first season left off and throws the gamer in the next chapter of Clementine's life. It's primarily just tied to The Walking Dead franchise in name only and does establish itself as a separate entity from both the television series and the comic book. Gamers are given very difficult choices on purpose with no right answers and the decisions you make both affect the outcome of the game from that point as well as make you question your decisions. The thing is, you don't have an infinite amount of time to make a decision, which plays into the hurried pacing of the world the characters live in. It's a very intense game and the first chapter will only take you about an hour or two to complete, but it does continue the momentum of the first season and presents a brand new set of challenges for the gamer. There's a lot to like in the return of the series and Telltale Games looks poised to continue building positively on the success of the first season.
The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains is currently available via Xbox Live, PSN and Steam.