|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC*|
|Dev: Telltale Games|
|Pub: Telltale Games|
|Release: March 4, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Once again, Telltale proves that their take on The Walking Dead is quite possibly the best piece of zombie fiction the world currently has to offer. The Walking Dead: Season 2: Episode 2: A House Divided has just come and Telltale has once again made me cry over fictional characters in a fictional zombie apocalypse. They brought me back to the horror of Season 1, and made me not trust myself by bringing in characters from 400 days. They hide important story decisions within innocent circumstances, making me realize that everything I do has a consequence. They even experiment with the standard Telltale formula and introduce new characters that are very gutsy to write in our current gaming industry. It’s another fantastic episode in a fantastic series.
One new experiment that Episode 2 tries out is starting immediately after the events of Episode 1. No time has passed. No one has had a chance to play catch up. The action picks up right where it left off, in the middle of a walker attack. It gives the story a sense of immediacy, and more importantly, it attaches you to the actions of Clementine a bit more. The gamer didn’t really have time to form complex opinions about the new group of survivors that Clem stumbled upon in Episode 1, and starting the episode this way allows Clem to feel similarly. Judging by the ending, which I will do everything in my power as a man and a games journalist not to spoil, Episode 3 is going to start off in much the same way. While it’s still hard to connect yourself to Clem the way you did with Lee in Season 1, the decision to rapid fire Episodes like this make you, the player, feel like you have to think quick on their feet and make decisions based on emotion rather than logic, just like Clem has to.
Since you start off immediately where Episode 1 ended, you also have your inventory from Episode 1, which is a first for this series. Certain dialogue options open up depending on what items you have sitting in your inventory, and certain puzzles are solved with items you picked up last episode. It does a great job connecting the episodes together and provides these little “Eureka!” moments where seemingly pointless actions from Episode 1 suddenly come into focus as important plot points.
Actually, Episode 2 is a lot better about hiding important choices in the narrative. Seemingly innocuous decisions, come back with life changing consequences. Sometimes you’ll make a choice attempting to please everyone, and later on in the game you’ll be cursing your indecision as you see yet more good people die.
But that’s the magic of this story. You see, Clem is learning the same lessons that you are. She, and you, are learning that people cannot be trusted. She, and you, are learning that sometimes you have to make choices between new and old friends. She, and you, are learning that people could try to the best of their ability to be a good and honest person, and they still end up hurting those around them. This is a violent and difficult coming of age story and you feel like you are thrust right in the middle of it all. While you may not look at this young girl as an avatar for yourself, you certainly do start realizing that you may not survive if you were in the same situation.
Clem is given a lot of opportunities to be incredibly badass in Episode 2. Your choices range from innocent, to conflicted, to downright reckless when dealing with walkers and other characters. Clem can do things like take on a group of walkers by herself, grab knives and guns and threaten intruders, literally hold people up at gunpoint and brave treacherous ground that no one else is willing to tread. She even gets a shooting gallery segment where she has six bullets and six walkers and can pick off each of them, with one headshot, one by one, from vision obscuring cover. Jesus Clem! John Wayne ain’t got nothing on you!
On one hand, the fact that the game lets you choose between playing lost little girl Clem or little miss Rambo Clem is great, but on the other hand Clem is the youngest member of her traveling party and is constantly asked to do things that no adult should do, let alone a little girl. Scout out a bridge? Let’s not let the fully grown men do it. Clem you do it! Climb a broken ladder to scout the area? Clem can do it! Negotiate with a possibly dangerous man holding a rifle at our heads? Clem can do it! At points it feels more than a little unrealistic, especially because this takes place in the ZOMBIE FRICKIN APOCALYPSE, but eventually you’ll just suspend your disbelief because Clem is the main character after all.