Telltale’s The Walking Dead had a fantastic first season. It really put the developer on the map for being the best at what it does. It won countless awards for its writing, characters, and execution. I, personally, had a real emotional connection while playing the game. I’m a pretty jaded individual, so I was amazed when the game actually made me feel. Mostly when it came to Lee and Clementine’s interactions. It really places you into the role of an immediate protector and father figure once you stumble upon Clementine for the first time.
I actually felt myself wanting to protect Clementine as best as I could. Even when I had to deny her what she wanted because I thought it was best for her. Sure, it sucked having the other members of the gang start to hate and resent you, but with Clementine, a simple disappointed sigh got to me. I had to weigh out every option thoroughly so I could choose the best option for Clementine. I even restarted my system once when I failed to prevent Clementine from eating a certain something in Season 1 Episode 2. When I failed to stop her and I was so distraught, that I turned off the system, and restarted the event just to stop her from eating it.
These emotional moments quickly return in full force in the beginning of Season 2. One emotionally draining event after another presents itself as Clementine is pushed through this undead wasteland.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead is based off the comic series and not so much the popular television show. This is a key distinction for those who aren’t in the know. Don’t expect to run around as Rick and friends and shoot walkers in first person like the less than stellar Activision game.
The game is cel-shaded; as most Telltale games are. It looks very good but still has its issues. It gets clunky at times with cuts being too late or too quick with the occasional lip sync errors. The game around the story isn’t 100 percent perfect, but the dialogue and characters easily make you overlook these problems.
This game gives you tough decisions with heavy consequences. These are becoming Telltale’s bread and butter with this series; as well as The Wolf Among Us series that Telltale also develops. It’s dark, depressing, and brutal -- just like a zombie apocalypse should be. Except this is all happening to an innocent little girl named Clementine. So the dark and depressing world is made even more brutal because she’s a child who needs to grow up fast or she surely won’t survive.
WARNING: Some spoilers lurk in these here paragraphs. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
The story is where the game’s real core comes from. It follows up shortly after how Season 1 ends. Without spoiling much; Clementine is left alone at the end of Season 1 and it ends, for me anyway, with her seeing some mysterious figures off in the sunset. I was left wondering who or what those figures were.
All That Remains opens up with Clementine following along with those figures we saw back in Season 1. Things start off slow, safe, and calm; save for when Clementine finds a blood soaked stuffed bunny – a reminder of the childhood she knew but the world she has to live in now. Things are slow and then, all of a sudden, it gets real really fast and all Clementine had is now being torn away from her.
Season 2 really takes place 18 months after the events of Season 1. Clementine is older looking, her voice isn’t the same, but she is basically still the same little girl. There is one rough moment while tending a dying fire, Clementine goes through her backpack for something to keep the fire going. She finds a picture of Lee Everett and a crayon drawing of Kenny’s family. All memories of her past and things that this world has taken from her. On top of that, you can decide which one of those memories you can use to keep the fire going. Pretty grim stuff.
All That Remains is consistently brutal and depressing. I felt at times that the game was just really mean and cruel. Some hope was given to Clementine when she meets a new friend. A friend that’s just too innocent to be threatening or bad. Well, things happen, and Clem is given the choice whether or not to put her new friend out of his misery. Telltale made me care about character minutes after first meeting him and then makes me kill him when I’m least expecting it. It’s some brilliant writing. Exploitative, but brilliant.
So after that happened, I was feeling really down. Just really bummed. Me. I was sort of emotionally drained about all this. I just felt light headed from everything that Clementine and I had just gone through. Again, I normally never connect with any characters in games or film/TV. It takes a lot to move me. But this game manages to do it.
The rest of the episode involves moments of stealthy home invasion, listening to peoples’ problems like it’s something out of Dr. Phil, and playing amateur surgeon. It gets pretty intense. On another note, these new people call the zombies “lurkers.” I found that pretty interesting and refreshing that some people in this world aren’t calling them “walkers.” It’s nice to know that “walker” isn’t some politically correct term that everyone everywhere calls them.
Not much of your choices in Season 1 seem to be important yet. So far its little things like being able to say Lee taught you how to shoot, or why you keep your hair short. Let’s hope in the next few episodes those previous choices have more ripple effects in the story -- rather than just small details.
There isn’t that much different, in terms of gameplay, from its first season or any other Telltale game for that matter. You walk around a limited space, making your way to different sections of the area, and interact with certain items. You either find use from these items, learn about something, or they are completely useless. It works well for the type of game it is, so why try to fix what’s not broken?
The action sequences are a little better than they were in previous episodes in the series. On par with the last few episodes of Season 1. When pinned by a walker, you can look around quickly for something to defend yourself. Grabbing a nearby brick or bottle and using the R1 or trigger button to fend the walker off. These moments feel right but can still be awkward at times. For example, button mashing as hard as you can when you aren’t actually supposed to win the mashing game. Those moments are fun when they happen but once you learn that all that enthusiastic mashing was all for nothing, it’s a bit annoying. At least the moment’s fun.
There is a fairly good amount of replayability in this episode. Maybe you’ll want things to play out differently after experiencing it for the first time. I’m committing to my choices until the end but I may go back once all the episodes are released and try different things. Maybe I can get a less depressing series of events out of my next playthrough. I got about 2 hours of content from this episode so playing through it again isn’t time consuming.
Even if you don’t want to do things differently; there is a lot of fun playing out the different dialogue sequences. Clementine can actually say some pretty mean things if you let her. I was always nice as I could be but sometimes I wished I got a little mean to a few characters. I’ll probably go Paragon on my first playthrough and Renegade on the next. There seem to be a lot of fun options if you opt to go full out Badass Clementine. Blackmailing people is fun!
The second season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead is shaping up to be a great ride. So far it’s very depressing but the fact that we can feel that from a video game is very refreshing. The monthly release formula is working to the developer’s advantage as it gets us attached to the characters over time but we all know that it will ultimately tear everything we love away from us. While I might not care much about the characters of this season yet, we all still have Clementine.
The series is not for the faint of heart as it is a little depressing, but here is something to pick spirits up: Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Dishonored) plays a character named Carver in the next episode. All The Remains is at the top form that Season 1 was at toward its end, so hopefully, with time, Season 2 will get even better and blow us all away again just like they did last year.
This review on All That Remains is the First Episode Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2. It was played on Playstation 3 and is based off the choices I made in the first season as well as the 400 Days DLC. Again, my wallet took another blow in the purchasing of the season pass for this game. This wallet continues to suffer but at least I get to play and the reader gets this review. Its loss is our gain. You can console the author about his wallet or talk to him about other stuff in the comments section here or on Twitter @whitechrishenry.