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.
On the surface The Walking Dead
is about surviving the zombie apocalypse; it's simple, neat, and orderly. Unfortunately, much like life, things go much deeper than the surface. The real story of The Walking Dead
is an examination of weakness and trust. How are you weak, who do you trust, and who do you trust with your weaknesses?
Clementine, the young protagonist of The Walking Dead: Season Two
, is only weak on the outside, physically. Her internal resolve, willpower, and (through the player) moral compass are all strong. Season Two has cleared the proverbial board of Season One's characters, their weaknesses, their trust, and their strengths and as the series moves forward with new characters in "Episode 2: A House Divided", new weaknesses will be exposed, new choices and alliances will be made, and new trust must be given, no matter how hesitantly you may wish to do so.
Depending on the choices made in "Episode 1", "Episode 2" kicks off with Clementine and her chosen companion left on the banks of a creek, riddled with the corpses of dead walkers. In my review playthrough, a dynamic of weakness was immediately established; while Clementine was physically weak, her companion was mentally so. This dynamic of character weakness continued and echoed through the entirety of the episode. As it unfolded, the weaknesses of the new characters became readily apparent: stupidity, unwillingness to trust, rashness, feeble-mindedness, overconfidence, and plain-old fear seemed to course through the new group. While there was never any fear of the group collapsing on itself (unlike Season One), one could almost see the frustration on Clementine's face as she realized she's in a group full of weak people who seem to be stuck together because of their weakness and with very few strengths to rely upon. Clementine even goes so far as to have an option to remark that everyone underestimates her, which is completely true given the motley crew to which she is seemingly shackled out of necessity.
This lack of properly assessing Clementine's skills sets up to be a powerful idea as this season marches forward. In one moment, characters are fearful for Clementine because she is a child and thus expect her to do simple and safe tasks like babysitting duty, and in the next moment, they are sending her alone into a shack to search for food, and trusting her with a gun and the expectation to kill walkers by herself. This creates a cognitive dissonance which goes beyond explanation at times. No wonder Clementine appears to be annoyed through the majority of the Episode, this group simply can't figure out what's going on... not that that's a bad thing. As the Episode marches forward, the evidence of those weaknesses and the inept nature of this new group set up a decision that was all too easy to make.
On a technical level, the point-and-click style and moments of action seem to be smoother than predecessors. I only encountered one, small moment where I felt that the game was even the slightest bit unjust in its controls. The action sequences are relatively simple (and few) and should harbor no challenge for even a casual gamer. Furthermore, I experienced no graphical hiccups or stutters and the game had no issues loading my decisions from "Episode 1" for the prerequisite "Previously On" section. One small point of concern occurred after the game's action had finished. In the section previewing the next Episode, several aspects of the cutscenes were completely whited out and absent. In what might be a more disturbing note, the game didn't show me "My Choices" after completing the Episode and they appear to be inaccessible from the menu screen at this time. Hopefully this doesn't have any effect on the importing of choices for "Episode 3".
Like all previous Episodes, the achievements for "Episode 2" are all progression-based and will naturally be unlocked as you play through the story. Like "Episode 1", "Episode 2" took a little under two hours to complete, so a quick boost of eight achievements and 100 Gamerscore await.
We expressed our trepidation with the new characters of Season Two in our "Episode One" review
. Unfortunately, it seems as if our concerns were well-warranted. By the end of "Episode Two" I found myself actively not caring about virtually any of Clementine's new companions simply because of their incredibly-evident weaknesses and faults. While no man (or character) is perfect, this new group screams "zombie chow" and lessens the emotional investment in the story. Fortunately, by the end of the episode, there does seem to be a narrative light on the horizon and the promise of more to come. On a technical standpoint "Episode Two" outclasses this season's progenitor, but on a narrative and character investment level, it falls short. Fans of the series shouldn't fret, however, because the end-game events and the teaser for what is to come in "Episode 3" give just enough promise, keep interest alive, and instill the hope that this Episode was merely a setup for better things to come.The reviewer spent approximately two hours guiding (a seemingly-perturbed) Clementine through her ordeal 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.