The Walking Dead Season 2: All That Remains
- Street Date:
- December 17th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Mike Flacy
- Review Date:1
- February 20th, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- Telltale Games
- Telltale Games
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
Second to only 'The Last of Us', 'The Walking Dead: Season 1' was definitely one of the more emotional games that I played last year. Telltale's ability to weave such an impactful narrative was impressive and got me really hooked on this new style of episodic games. On the other hand, '400 Days' seemed like a wasted opportunity that didn't really build up any emotional empathy for those new characters. However, I do recommend that you play both games before entering into The Walking Dead: Season 2, if only to understand the motivations and journey of the main character, Clementine. (By the way, this will be a spoiler-free review.)
Telltale has provided the ability to import a save from both previous games into Season 2. While the choices you make in the first two games will have an impact on Season 2, the extent of that impact is fairly small in 'All That Remains.' If you are jumping into Season 2 without a previous save file, choices from those previous games will be automatically generated at random. It seems somewhat similar to the save import system in the 'Mass Effect' series, basically impacting the lives of characters in each successive episode.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
If there's one criticism of 'All That Remains' that stands out from the rest, it's that the episode feels much more linear than previous episodes in Season 1. While it's likely that Telltale designed it specifically to accentuate the fact that adults are still controlling Clementine's life, it also feels like a cheap way to drive the story along. However, it's also likely that more choices will start to appear in later episodes and the linear focus within this episode was due to needing to set up a new cast of characters.
That being said, Clementine does feel like a more engaging protagonist than Lee. The world of zombies and unscrupulous humans is much more frightening for Clementine, mostly because she's not big enough to really fight off adults. She has to rely on a combination of her wits, speed, and environment to survive. You also get the impression that she's more capable of fighting than other characters, only because she's seen so much in the months preceding the events of 'All That Remains.'
Conversations are also front and center in 'All That Remains.' While the impact of these conversations is still up in the air, choosing between the truth and a lie is always an option. The tone of responses is also interesting, basically allowing young Clementine to manipulate other characters. Clementine can still play up the angle of being a young, helpless girl while the truth is that she's stronger and has survived more than the majority of characters in the game. It will be extremely interesting to see how that plays out in future episodes.
Interestingly, Telltale has shifted to a user interface that's more at home on a gamepad controller rather than a keyboard and mouse. One example of this are the scenarios were Clementine is racing away from danger. As Clementine moves, a series of quick-time reaction events are triggered and force the player into hitting the right buttons. It's easier to accomplish this on a controller. Interacting with object in the game environment also runs into the same issue. It was built for a gamepad's direction stick in mind as opposed to a mouse. All of these little changes are manageable, but it's clear that Telltale is focusing on consoles with this new UI.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Visually, 'All That Remains' looks just as good as any previous episode of 'The Walking Dead.' I do believe that there have been some slight improvements to facial expressions, a helpful tool when attempting to read the feelings of other characters and choose a response that will help Clementine. Of course, you will notice some slowing of the framerate and occasional stuttering issues, but it's nothing that significantly detracts from the overall experience.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Once again, the voice work in 'The Walking Dead' series is really what drives the narrative and let's the player build empathy for specific characters. Melissa Hutchison's work as Clementine is stellar. Incidentally, she's also the voice of Beauty in Telltale's 'The Wolf Among Us' as well as Trixie Trotter in Telltale's 'Back to the Future.' The rest of the voice cast is admirable and works well with the vast array of emotional states. The music is also on par with the previous season and the sound effects seem to be unchanged. Both help sell the overall uneasiness and suspense of each scenario.
Episode 1 felt short to me, but that's after playing 'The Walking Dead: Season 1' with all the episodes back to back, thus I'm somewhat impatient for the next episode. Overall, you are looking at about 90 to 120 minutes of playtime before the episode ends. Similar to season 1, there are no multiplayer modes to go along with the single player adventure. On a side note, you will be happy to know that player comparison percentages at the end of episode are back, thus you will be able to compare your choices against the entire Telltale community.
In many respects, Telltale has traded the empty promise of hope during season 1 for pure, unadulterated fear in season 2. And I'm not sure that's a good thing. There's at least one scene in the game that's extremely difficult to handle and will make the majority of players squeamish to say the least. While Clementine clearly isn't the helpless girl of season 1, you still can't help fearing for her life around every corner. That fear builds continually throughout episode 1 and really doesn't let up. Sadly, there's no substantial payoff at the end of the episode, thus we are left wondering where Clementine 's journey will take her next.
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