Also On: PSN, XBLA, iOS
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
It’ll come as no surprise that Season 2 of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games is just as bleak as the first five episodes that made up Season 1. Considering the gut-wrenching ending and cruel cliffhanger that came before, I wasn’t expecting my experience with the newest episode to be particularly pleasant. And that expectation was certainly met, in the best way possible.
It doesn’t take long for Episode 1 to deliver its first punch to the emotional gut, and the blows don’t stop there. While the length of this episode seems less than the previous six, there’s enough story and emotion packed into the reunion with series favorite Clementine to make you happy for the end of chapter break, if for no other reason than to give your mental anguish a bit of rest.
Not every aspect of the story feels as strong here as the original, but part of that is growing accustomed to a new cast of characters. Conflicts are being set-up, personalities developed, and Clementine’s place in it all is still to be determined. But the groundwork laid here has great potential, and thanks to the excellent quality of Season 1’s story, we’ve got proof that Telltale can deliver.
The gameplay elements have been slightly tweaked, with some changes in design to the user interface as well. Season 2 is still a very story-driven experience, with very light exploration and action mechanics mixed in. For the most part you’ll be interacting with other characters or select objects in the environment, and an emphasis is still placed on your responses and reactions at different points. The concept that opposing NPC’s will take note of what you do and say is still an important element. Whether or not your decisions will have more of a noticeable impact on how this story wraps up compared to Season 1 remains to be seen.
It’s worth noting that you’ll don’t want to use Season 2 as a jumping on point. This is definitely an experience that benefits from knowing what happened in the first five episodes. I haven’t seen any significant impact from the 400 Days DLC here, but there’s still time for that to play a part. Your actions in Season 1 do carry over, but those actions only seem to have a bearing on conversations and how Clementine recalls certain events at this point. I’m sincerely hoping that my decisions from Season 1 have a bigger impact than what this episode shows, but again that’s something that’s difficult to ascertain this early in the story.
I played through this new episode on PC via Steam, and there are a couple issues I had that I wanted to mention. At first I had a heck of a time getting the game to even start, with it constantly crashing as soon as I hit “Play” in the Steam window. After scouring the forums for help, apparently there’s a known issue for Windows 8 users that may need to download and apply a .dll file in the directory for Season 2. I also had some difficulty getting the game to recognize my save files from Season 1, and learned this was due to playing Season 1 in compatibility mode, and it created a different directory than what Season 2 was trying to find. Day 1 PC issues are nothing new of course, but it doesn’t make situations like this less frustrating.
Overall I really enjoyed stepping back into the world Telltale carved out for the franchise, and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with Clementine and the new cast. Time will tell how significant the actions from Season 1 will actually be, but right now they feel more like window dressing than anything important. But there are some powerful moments in this initial chapter for Season 2 that will be hard to forget, and I’m just as attached to the plot here as I was months ago. Here’s hoping for a wild ride over the course of 2014, and I see no reason based on my time with this introductory episode that Telltale can’t deliver some powerful storytelling moments in Season 2 of The Walking Dead.