Ow, my emotions. For most of its run, I’ve felt the second season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead to be overshadowed by The Wolf Among Us. It’s certainly not as consistent as the first season, with a fairly meandering plot and far less direction than the original, but particularly in the final two episodes everything came together, culminating in scenes as tense as anything else Telltale has created, and they have created some tense scenes in their time.
Whatever your choice at the end of the first season of The Walking Dead, Lee is gone and Clementine is out in the world all by herself. Set a couple of years after Season One, Clementine has grown both physically and emotionally. She is no longer the adorable and naive child of the first season, with her natural kindness tempered by a streak of pragmatism and much stronger survival instincts. Clementine comes across a new group, with new conflicts and dramas, and with them sets out to continue the long trudge for survival.
That description probably sounds quite vague, and that’s largely because for much of Season Two the plotting is rather meandering and unfocused. It’s not boring or anything, Telltale’s characterisation is strong enough to carry it through this, but there’s little sense of building tension and stakes over the course of the episodes, compared to The Wolf Among Us which did this really well. Episode 3 onwards begin to show a massive improvement however, but the central fascinating conflict which shapes the finale only really begins to manifest itself in Episode 4. Don’t get me wrong, I was thoroughly gripped by Season Two, but there’s a strong sense of making it up as it goes along. When it works though, it really works, with some decisions almost bringing me to tears of tension and frustration.
Season Two plays, well, much like Season One, in that there isn’t much in the way of gameplay. The action scenes are better, more in the vein of The Wolf Among Us, but there’s even less puzzle solving. That’s actually a good thing though, the one or two times Season One tried to be a real adventure game were clunky and broke immersion. Season Two is an even further development in Telltale’s movement away from adventure games to interactive storytelling, and that’s really not necessarily a bad thing.
The art style still looks nice, but as with The Wolf Among Us it runs fairly badly. I really hope the move to the next generation consoles fixes a lot of this, as it’s ridiculous that fairly low-key games like these run so horribly. Still, the character models are better than the first season’s, and the voice acting is still absolutely fantastic. Despite the tiff character models and unconvincing facial expressions, the performers manage to sell us these characters as real people with only their voice, something very hard to do.
The Walking Dead: Season Two may not quite have the impact of the first season, it’s nonetheless an absolute must play. Clementine is one of the best characters in gaming, and spending more time with her cannot be a bad thing. Bring on Season Three.