Game Review: The Walking Dead Season Two

(The following review contains SPOILERS for season one of The Walking Dead game.)

I have no idea why it took me so long to play this because I love Telltale’s adventure games and this one’s been sitting in my Steam library for a few months now.

Season two picks up several months after the first season’s end. Clementine is now traveling with Omid and Christa. After things go south very quickly in the game’s opening scenes, Clementine finds herself alone in the wilderness with no help in sight. The events that follow will test her morals and survival instincts.

If the dominant emotion I felt while playing the first season was sadness, the emotion I felt the most during season two was rage. The second season seemed tailor made to make me angry, and not in a “the controls are broken and this game is terrible” way.  I was angry at the characters, I was angry at the way things kept getting worse all the time, and I was especially angry at Telltale Games for making me feel so angry.

As I said in my previous review of the first season, the zombies almost take a backseat to the interpersonal drama. In fact, the apocalypse could have been, well, anything, and you’d still have desperate people scavenging for survival and being despotic overlords of their own insular communities. Season two gives you a cast of mostly likable characters, so it’s all the more heartbreaking because the player knows that at least some of them will become zombie food (if their fellow survivors don’t kill them first). Even though I knew their deaths were very likely inevitable, I couldn’t help but get attached to Sarah, the sheltered daughter of the doctor in a group Clem meets, or Rebecca, who definitely started off on the wrong foot with Clem but slowly warms up to her. There are also some really great character moments for Clementine, who has been forced to grow up way too fast by the events in the first and second seasons.

The art is the same cell-shaded art of their other adventure games, and it’s only improved since the first season. I didn’t notice the music very much, however, the sad piano music during one of the credits sequences and the return of a familiar track from the first game really had an impact on me.

Few games are perfect, and when compared to the first one, I felt that the second season lacks the raw emotional depth of its predecessor, that is not to say that it doesn’t have its moments where it gets to you–the ending I got made me equal parts angry, frustrated, and sad, but I feel like it’s difficult to care about the characters when you know from experience that the game is going to screw you over. The episodes are also pretty short. Steam has me clocked in at eighteen hours for the first game, and fifteen hours for the second, although, 400 days might have given me a few extra hours. I also found that the prompts for QTEs sometimes blended in to the rest of the scene, but unlike the first game, I was never really stuck on a particular sequence.

As for potentially triggering content, if you thought you’d be spared a gory fate because you’re a child, think again. Clementine can be eaten by zombies, shot in the face, and has to stitch up a wound while fully conscious and aware, a scene that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. As a dog lover, there’s also the death of a dog in the first episode that is particularly heartbreaking. Although the cast is pretty diverse, the only same-sex couple (and even then it’s not outright stated they are a couple, just that one is the other’s “partner”) doesn’t even last half an episode compared to the other couples in the game.

At this point, it seems kind of redundant to say that I enjoyed my time with this game, because Telltale Games could make an adventure game about conceivably anything and I would love it to pieces. If you’ve played Season 1 and 400 Days, you’ve probably already beaten this one. If you haven’t tried this series before, you’ll want to start with the first one (and 400 Days).

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