A bit overdue, but my thoughts on Season Two of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games are now up!
I keep saying it, but I really think I’m hitting my stride with these reviews. I got this one done earlier than usual which I’m glad to see. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out.
A Paladin’s Steam Review: The Walking Dead (Season Two). A Grounded Story About Clementine’s Journey Through the Apocalypse.
- Genre: Telltale Point and Click Adventure.
- Developed & Published by: Telltale Games.
- Platform: Windows and Mac.
- Business Model: Episodic, Season Is Complete.
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
Telltale comes back to The Walking Dead series with much of the same game mechanics that comprised the first season. This time around though, it feels even less puzzle driven and more adventure/story focused than before. Not that the original one had that many puzzles to deal with. TWD brings a few more tricks to the field with some new QTEs to keep the character busy. The most noticeable addition is a “sliding” QTE that feels touch inspired, though designed with a mouse in mind. A tich clunky but effective. There’s one particular scene where you’re healing Clementine’s wound that got a little too eye wincing for me. *shudder*. I know QTEs are generally frowned upon (and I share that attitude pretty often) but I have to admit that games such as TWD create them in such a way that keeps me involved without feeling tacked on or unnecessarily finicky. You’ll find a few items for your inventory now and again but their usage is usually restricted to the level you’re on. Nothing that’s changed from Season 1, though their importance feels reduced. Each “level” of the game tends to have a bit of exploration and the option to interact with objects or converse with other characters.
Thoughts On Clementine
The story picks up some time after season one had finished. The main protagonist is now Clementine which I think is a fantastic choice. Clementine was clearly the standout character last season and seeing the apocalypse from her perspective is a change of pace for the universe. Seeing Clementine’s character mature in this season is also great to see. She feels like one of the best implementations of combining a “blank slate” for the player and still having a personal agenda/character yet. She still commands the player’s respect both mechanically and in the story itself. Furthermore, she remains my favorite character to come out of TWD. Which still surprises me to this day as I write this review. That said, I have to wonder if Telltale are going to let the player decide her personality in Season 3 or fast forward enough years for it to not matter too much. Or, if they’re even going to cover her story at all, as crazy as that might seem. It’ll be interesting to see how she stands in S3.
Other Characters and Some Story Thoughts
It’s mostly a new cast that you get thrust into this season. That’s due to what happened in the last season. However, there are a few characters that make a surprising return from season one. As the game is a narrative-driven experience, I find myself unwilling to talk about the story in fear of spoiling it. That said, I will talk about how the story works overall. For the most part, it follows how TWD S1 worked. Your actions do have an immediate and short-term effect on the story, but the long term effects are mostly corrected for or worked into the overall goals of the narrative. While your experience will differ somewhat every time you play and make different choices, there’s no real way to take the story off its rails. Telltale really isn’t kidding around when they say that the story adapts to the choices of the players. And for the most part this works. Though I did notice at times that the delivery of voice lines after you make choices can come off a bit odd or over/underacted.
Still, the story is a dark one of survival. Much of the focus this season is dealing with people close With characters trying to protect what remains of their families, their hope and their humanity. Each struggling with demons that some contain, while others unleash it on those around them. I think all of this helps to keep the story grounded and personable. It feels like these are real situations and dramas that rarely feel forced or unnecessary for the sake of having drama.
Business Model Thoughts: Episodic Releases
I once again abstained from buying The Walking Dead S2 until the entire season was available for release. Though, I did keep my finger on the pulse of what people were saying about each episode. There were numerous delays for many of the episodes of S2, creating some doubts as to whether an episodic model is worth buying into. For myself, I still have mixed feelings on the business model. It still feels a bit too much like pre-ordering at this point. There’s the other problem that having to wait months between episodic releases can cause you to forget what happened in the last episode. But, if people still prefer it, then I don’t have any reason to say you shouldn’t do it. Just realize you may be waiting a long time between episodes. I myself prefer the Netflix approach of being able to enjoy the entire season in “one sitting”. So, I guess having choice is better than not.
From my playthrough, TWD S2 ran about as well as Season One of The Walking Dead, which was pretty darn good. I didn’t notice any glaring bugs or performance difficulties. The only thing I did notice are relatively minor animation glitches during transitions but I honestly feel like that’s nitpicking to even point them out. Compared to S1, S2’s settings are a lot more limited. Texture quality is the only low/high slider compared to three changeable visual settings of the previous entry. Anti-aliasing and full screen can be turned on or off. Resolutions have a decent selection to choose from which is unchanged from before. Overall, a little disappointing to have less choice in tweaking the game’s graphics but unless you’re running on a really old machine, you’re probably going to set everything to high and call it good. Master volume and music sliders are here though it would have been nice to have a speech audio slider considering how much talking is going on.
The Walking Dead Season 2 improves upon the original season while still remembering what it’s about. It’s character-driven narrative, involving the player as much as possible even during what would otherwise be “boring” cutscenes. There is one thing I found really refreshing though. Telltale shows us that they can still have a very character driven story with dramatic moments that are personable and realistic without giant explosions or deus ex machinas getting in the way. It keeps the universe’s bite throughout the five episodes, no pun intended. I am slightly concerned that Telltale may be biting off more than they can chew with the many series they are running concurrently right now. There are a few odd moments in the series where it felt like the writers might not be on the same page. That or maybe it was the naivety of certain characters that made them say one thing only to do something that contradicted themselves.
Ultimately, should you get The Walking Dead Season 2? Yes if you’re entering the series new and yes if you’re wanting to follow up on Season 1. The characters, overall story and continued improvements on what Telltale started in S1 are worth enjoying in this sequel.
Thanks for reading!