With the story being such a huge focus of The Walking Dead series, every effort has been made to keep this review spoiler-free. That being said, small hints to the story are present.
Much like ripping a band-aid off of a fresh wound, the choices made in The Walking Dead
come rushing back; hot, painful, and fresher than expected. Important decisions, dire consequences, horrors and minor victories, nothing is exempt from the "Previously On" segment that kicks off the beginning of The Walking Dead: Season Two
. While gamers may know what has happened, the events that are about to unfold in Season Two are far from expected. By the time the opening title smash hits the screen, however, gamers will be prepared for anything.
The world of The Walking Dead
is nothing if not a harsh one, even more so for a child. After spending the entirety of Season One serving as a protector for Clementine, Season Two casts her into the fire and gamers behind her controls. While the "live together/die alone" thematic drive is still present, being in control of a solitary child presents a new series of challenges. Every stranger becomes more of a possible threat, every situation carries more danger, and every crisis looms larger.
As a child, Clementine lacks the raw strength to deal with walkers out in the open and on her own and relies heavily on running and hiding until an opportunity presents itself. Fortunately, this doesn't quell any of the story's tension and emotion, and Telltale once again sets a new standard for toe-curling uncomfortableness in one specific sequence. While Season One did a good job of slowly building the tension, gore, and emotional heart-wrenching, "All That Remains" kicks in fast, hard, and leaves one to wonder just how far Telltale will be taking this season.
The biggest strength of The Walking Dead
has always been its characters and story. Season One spent a good amount of time in character development, slowly introducing new characters and giving reasons to care about them. While a new menagerie of characters is introduced in "All That Remains", their development is barely addressed beyond a few flashes of interaction and teases of character to come. By the end of the episode, gamers will have a shaky sense of potential friends, foes, and dangers amongst the new cast, though.
Those familiar with Season One will have no problem adjusting to the small control tweaks that Telltale has made in Season Two. The point-and-click gameplay style is still the dominant gameplay mechanic. Moments of tension and action are controlled with quick-time events. Gamers who are still lamenting the harshness of some of the more action-filled sequences of Season One can breathe a little easy (at least with this first episode) as there are no sequences that will have you fighting the game's engine.
Much like the gameplay, this first episode unfortunately suffers from some of the technical issues that plagued Season One as well. Graphical hiccups and stutters are an occasional annoyance and loading screens are frequent. That being said, there were no issues importing Season One decisions and the game felt incredibly personal, especially after refreshing the hard memories in the "Previously On" preamble. If (for some reason) you haven't played Season One the game will automatically and randomly assign choices, which is unfortunate. With all of the tools at their disposal, it would have been nice for Telltale to include a mechanic that would allow gamers to make some of those choices rather than have them randomly picked.
On the achievement front, like Season One, all of the achievements are story-based and impossible to miss. No gamer should be scared of starting this and not completing it, although you can expect the ratios to be miniscule. It should also be mentioned that this first episode can be completed in a little under two hours, so gamers entering score competitions can count on it for a quick boost of 100G, should the need ever arise.
Fans of The Walking Dead
are probably already playing "All That Remains" and enjoying it. Detractors from this style of "interactive story" will still not be pleased with the limited gameplay mechanics. With those things established, "All That Remains" is still an excellent gaming experience and Telltale has laid enough emotional groundwork to make Clementine's story one worth experiencing. While this initial episode lacks the punch and hook that drew so many gamers in with Season One's opener, "A New Day", it still brings in tent-pole moments that are impactful, engaging, and easy to recommend. Telltale is a studio that's at the top of its game, and while "All That Remains" is a small step down in story quality (especially after the roller-coaster that was Season One), it's the first step in a new journey and still represents a "must-play" for fans.The reviewer spent approximately two hours guiding Clementine through her first episode and popped all of the achievements along the way. The copy of this game was provided by Telltale Games for the purpose of the review.