Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 – iOS, Vita, OUYA Releasing Later
Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games
Genre: Interactive Adventure Platform Played: PC
Telltale Games reinvigorated the adventure game genre last year, with their Walking Dead series. It popularized the genre that had gone sadly unnoticed for too long, as well as gaining dozens of Game of the Year awards. Needless to say, the debut of The Walking Dead Season 2 was one of the most highly anticipated titles of 2013, which only grew stronger following the emotional conclusion of Season 1.
*Warning! Full story spoilers for Season 1 ahead*
The Walking Dead Season 2 begins with “All That Remains” – a fitting title that dives directly into what remains in the aftermath of Lee’s tragic death. Following his passing, players now control the lovable Clementine, as she must survive in a world that has become unfit for a young girl to inhabit. Though Clementine is still considered a child in reality, she is very much considered an equal threat to those around her in The Walking Dead universe. Controlling Clementine provides a vulnerability and helplessness that wasn’t present in Season 1. Instead of looking out for Clementine as Lee, we must now adhere to his teachings, which provides a tension that is ever-present.
The evolution of Clementine as a character is moved forward after a short prologue that then delivers a 16 month time-lapse. This is a smart decision, as it allows us to control a Clementine who has moved on from the emotions of Lee’s death, instead allowing his memory to drive her decisions and personality, going forward. All That Remains is at its emotional peak when it recounts moments from last season. Players will feel their own buried emotions resurface, as Clementine informs others of Lee’s good deeds. These moments are well delivered, and remind us how much of an effect Lee had on her young life.
All That Remains has a strong central focus on Clementine, which makes perfect sense. However, this is also one of its problems. Due to the focus on Clementine herself, newly introduced characters are left in the dark.
This also relates to the main narrative itself, which leaves Episode 1 feeling like the beginning of a story rather than its own installment. All That Remains is noticeably setting the groundwork for future episodes, but because of this, there is a lack of direction regarding the drive of Clementine’s future. The new characters introduced could certainly deliver interesting aspects, but Telltale barely scratches the surface on each of these individuals, instead making us base our opinions on small introductions. This means that certain choices lack that emotional attachment, while more of the meaningful moments are out of our control entirely.
Exploring areas in All That Remains is similar to last season. Players are placed in one area, and must interact with their surroundings to progress through the story. Animations when maneuvering through these sections are awkward and unnatural. Clementine walks with a constant stutter, and it is extremely apparent when the game smoothly transitions into cinematic sequences. Luckily, exploration is limited to only a handful of areas, while most gameplay will take place throughout conversations and action sequences. The quick time events are still present, but still provide a great sense of intensity during these moments. It also felt as if the excellent action sequences present in The Wolf Among Us has helped Telltale improve these sequences, which is a great step forward for the series.
Choices still play a huge part of The Walking Dead formula, which can greatly alter how your Clementine will act. Will you be kind, and try to make friends with these new characters? Or will you use valuable information to your advantage? These choices may not have significant repercussions yet, but the way you portray Clementine will certainly affect her characters direction, going forward. Watching Clementine act innocent while openly threatening an opposing character is brilliant, these moments alone emphasise the opposite ways players can handle each situation.
The replay value has always been one of The Walking Dead’s strongest points, and that doesn’t change. Though some of the biggest decisions do not show their outcomes during the episode, it left me curious to see how my choices will affect the overall outcome of the season proper.
Visually All That Remains keeps the unique art style from Season 1, which has now been refined and improved. One of the biggest improvements is the facial animations. The lip syncing issues experienced throughout the original series are gone, and the characters can now portray some realistic facial emotions. There were moments where the facial expressions on these characters said more than words ever could, which is a huge leap over the previous Season. Sadly, stuttering and minor game freezing between transitions is still an issue. The Wolf Among Us was able to avoid these issues, but The Walking Dead still finds trouble dealing with these ever-present demons.
The Walking Dead is an excellent series, and All That Remains does a great job at showcasing the evolution of Clementine. Playing as a young child provides intense feelings of vulnerability, knowing that your character lacks the physical demeanor to truly defend themselves.
All That Remains starts building the groundwork for Season 2, though it finds itself lacking a strong standalone story, due to this. The narrative’s emphasis on Clementine was needed, but newly introduced characters were forgotten in the meantime. It certainly doesn’t provide that memorable introduction The Walking Dead received last year. With all that being said, All That Remains is still an excellent addition to the series. Those that found themselves in love with the series last year will find their feelings return very quickly.
Watching Clementine recount moments I experienced alongside her last year paints a character that has grown since first hearing her voice on that walkie-talkie so long ago. Lee may not be around anymore to help protect Clementine, but together as a team, we will survive… and remember to keep our hair short.
+ Clementine’s evolution as a character
+ Controlling Clementine provides a strong sense of vulnerability
+ Unexpected, shocking moments
– New characters feel empty
– Lack of standalone story