March 8, 2014 by Vinnie Leduc
It’s been over a full year since the emotional conclusion of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, the highly acclaimed episodic video game series based on Robert Kirkman’s comic books. While gamers have been hungry waiting for more, all you could have done in the meantime is 1) take an extra bite and play the 400 Days special episode via DLC, 2) replay the six episodes and experiment with killing and saving other people this time, 3) watch AMC’s television characters finally leave that damn prison, and 4) laugh at YouTube videos of people exaggeratedly crying during the finale of the first season.
The first episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two is finally here, and as always, I’ll keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but if you haven’t finished the first season yet, I strongly recommend that you stop reading this and go do that first. One important reason why is that some of the decisions that you’ve made before, including in the DLC that bridges the gap between the two seasons, influence your second season experience. Note that if you skip out on the engaging story and leave any previous episodes unfinished, then your choices will be randomly generated.
You continue the story playing as Clementine, the biggest supporting character from last season and undoubtedly the iconic poster child of TellTales’ franchise… so far, that is. After the “previously on” segment reminds you of some of your critical decisions and tries to get you to tear up one last time, you’re soon reunited with some familiar faces. Are they the mysterious figures in the first season’s post-credits extra scene? Probably, but there’s no official confirmation.
Within a few minutes, it’s clear that our dear Clementine, although still a cute little girl, has grown up considerably, similar to the progression of Carl on the television series this season. And before the big bold yellow letters of the title card hit the screen, you’ve already felt anxious, angry, and awful. Now that’s the way to kick off the season, Telltale!
Then the adventure jumps forward in time even more, and it seems like this season’s initial episode, entitled All That Remains, emphasizes survival over all other aspects of the game. It’s not as simple as “What am I going to do?” anymore. Whom will you trust? Your intuition and judgement will be tested, and there’s a particular choice that seems to be more complex and layered than any of the ones from before.
The panic sequences have been improved, and the addition of a run button and dedicated attack button makes some things easier for console players. A sidebar inventory has also been added, but its utility remains to be seen. However, the overall controls, especially during intense time-sensitive moments, still don’t feel 100% natural. At least that’s my excuse for dying a few times anyway.
If there were any upgrades to the graphic novel visual style, I didn’t notice it, which is fine because that’s not necessary here. The hauntingly brooding music by Jared Emerson-Johnson remains intact, and Melissa Hutchison’s voice acting for Clementine is excellent, especially in the ninth chapter.
My biggest concern with All That Remains was the lack of scares. Maybe this is because the theme of survival is directed more against humans than zombies, which mirrors a common burden of the TV show, but the previous Telltales season still had its fair share of jumpy moments. Let’s hope that all this tension building pays off in the future.
The only other thing is maybe I missed some details, but so far I feel like my choices in the DLC special episode, which seemed to have significant repercussions, didn’t have any effect on my new season. Just a minor thing that will probably bear fruit eventually.
All That Remains is overall an excellent start to The Walking Dead: Season Two. It messes with your emotions, and you’ll feel hopeless and hopeful. You’ll encounter d-bags, Good Samaritans, and everything in between. The two-hour episode leaves you wanting to know and play more, and as if that weren’t enough, the “next time on” segment leaves you with a teaser that’ll have you guessing for weeks. The Walking Dead: All That Remains gets 4.5 out of 5 stars (Amazing).