Two Parts Heart, One Part Brraaaiiinnss [The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Game Review]
*Disclaimer: If you have not yet played The Walking Dead: Season 1, hold your hand out in front of your face, and proceed to slap yourself. Then head on over to Steam and play it right now. Do it, I’ll wait.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 by TellTale games will have you shouting STAY IN THE HOUSE CORRRAAL. For the most part, this is a sequel in top fighting shape, and a fantastic game that fans of its predecessor shouldn’t hesitate to grab. So let’s get into it.
Picking up presumably a year or two after the end of Season 1, you now play as a more mature, savvier Clementine in a dark, dangerous, world overrun with the living dead.
As opposed to a grown man, Clementine’s smaller stature provides a whole new set of challenges and this change of skills is utilized well throughout the story. Even early on, the game does a great job of letting the player wonder just where this adventure is headed and throws several curves just when you think you’ve figured it out. Meaningful player choices, usually in the form of dialogue options, are here in full force as well and constantly leave you wondering “Did I make the right choice?”
Game play mechanics have also seen some appreciated improvements over the first installment. Action sequences come in some more variety, with Clementine needing to duck, dodge and crawl her way out of zombie clutches. The player is also required to manually perform more tasks outside of the usual zombie attack sequences, including treating wounds and peeking around obstacles. The variety and frequency of these “playable” events provides a richer, more interactive feel that veterans of Season 1 should appreciate.
The pacing this go-around is also nicely done, with some wonderfully touching conversations, including a simple fireside chat that is perhaps some of the best written dialogue in the series. The calm moments in between the chaos feel fleshed out, and handled with the same care and attention as the action scenes.
For all its heart and amazing storytelling, the game does still stumble a few times. The cast seems more fluid this time around, so there wasn’t as much opportunity to feel connected to other characters as the first game. This meant that inevitable losses that come with a zombie apocalypse weren’t quite as powerful as they could have been, but its also worth acknowledging that Season 1 may have just simply set that bar so perfectly high. Also, while there is no shortage of ‘brains’ in this tale, some events didn’t quite hit the mark logically. One particular scene involved a seemingly life threatening injury that was essentially “walked off”.
Some of the conflict between characters also felt slightly less ‘organic’ than expected. Occasionally characters would seem to erupt not because circumstances warranted it, but because a fight needed to happen. Still, I suppose a zombie apocalypse is as good a reason as any to haul off and deck someone.
Overall, this is the adventure genre at its best. Despite some blemishes, this worthy sequel continues the epic story of the first and should be a must-play for anyone who enjoyed The Walking Dead: Season 1. The harrowing story, excellent dialogue, and powerful choices make this a game you don’t want to miss. Just make sure to have a box of tissues nearby.
*The Walking Dead: Season Two is comprised of 5 Episodes, and runs around 12-15 hours to complete.*