The Walking Dead: Season 2 is the direct sequel for the award winning Point & Click game by TellTale Games, The Walking Dead. The adventure game based on the comics with extreme emphasis on the TV Show, continues the steps previously paved by Lee, but this time we play as Clementine, in a decaying world. Released roughly one year later, The Walking Dead: Season 2 brings this journey, one step above, both in visuals and in its technical aspects.
Clementine is now eleven years old, and it’s been two years since the traumatic events occurred in Savannah. Lee is gone, and her lasting friends quickly became leftovers in this new world in ruins. But she never gave up, instead, she kept going, like Lee had wanted her to. It’s a constant fight just to survive the weather, and the constant search for food seems endless. Groups come and go, but are they trustworthy, even if they look like it?
This new season puts players face to face with the harsh reality of surviving, and how much the whole world turns itself against even the most common elements. Trust has barely any value, and empty cans of food seems to reflect everyone’s nightmares. Walkers are barely the major danger anymore, with so many taking advantage of this crumbling state in which some still call humanity, Clem will have to hide, sneak, make hard decisions, and stand against the odds when everybody else still sees her as a little kid. Violence and gore are this new reality abruptly thrown at our protagonist, and how she will react is up to you. Will she endure its violence, embracing it? Or will she walk away, keeping her sanity first, or would she rather have a loaded gun instead?
The first season gave us a perfectly portrayed narrative, with engaging dialogues and fascinating characters, and it’s no surprise all the elements remain present in this sequel. New characters are interesting to say the least, and provide a whole new drama set for the group, handing over new possibilities when it comes to player choices. Like previously, there are five chapters, maintaining the same thrilling and purpose the TV Show got us all hooked for, but since there are less gameplay elements, they tend to look shorter.
The game is extremely well directed, as expected, with plot twists being well placed and delivering delights of surprises and unexpected realizations. When previously we played as Lee, we now play as an eleven year old. Although our perspective is the same, the way other characters react to Clem is different. A nice change of pace, in which Clem will become a strong leader, even if no one recognizes. Psychological effects are without a doubt the engine behind the violence, and encounters with old friends might even be what it takes to turn things around, displaying how Clem handles everything around her, as she signifies a child brought up face to face with this undead reality.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 delivers a very similar gameplay experience, previously seen in Season One, but while it adds a more fluid experience, it also removes the amount of puzzles to a complete zero. During the very first days of the apocalypse Lee would find his way through traditional Point & Click puzzles, like finding out how making a train work, or searching for clues in a detective-style mini-game. On The Second Season, while playing as Clementine, we have no puzzles, and barely any interactions rather than the ones connected and related to the plot, and even those are minimal at best. If anything, TellTale Games made this season less Point & Click and further adventure wise, which it stands closer and closer to a Visual Novel, and that’s a red alert!
Controlling Clementine is pleasant, but we still don’t have a running option… Nonetheless, Clem can still look at objects, pick them up, or just interact with them. Same goes for other NPC’s. As expected, a dialogue tree is the game’s charm, this time around with an extra surprise. If players have kept their save game from the previous season, their decisions are going to carry over to this new season, including the decisions made in the 400 Days DLC. The Steam version uses Cloud Saves, which is pretty useful in this case. Loading a previous save game profile will give you the chance of going through different paths, and experience new and unique finals.
One thing TellTale Games does remarkably well, is improving their engine to accommodate each new game. The Walking Dead: Season 2 uses most of the improvements seen in The Wolf Among Us. Players can now pause the game to properly choose a dialogue choice, therefore keeping the adrenaline high, but still giving the availability of pausing for those who need the extra time to read carefully. Clearly, something that should have been used in the first season, but it’s better late than never. Dialogue choices are now presented in a proper grid with full mouse support, and overall movements have been tweaked to function perfectly well. The mouse cursor moves smoothly, instead of dragging along the screen, without affecting the flow of events occurring. It’s a technical improvement, many that should’ve been done right from the start. Being a TellTale game, everyone would be expecting some sort of technical issues, but in this case, it seems we have a solid, stable and reasonably well balanced game when comes to performance.
It’s their best game up to this date, as performance goes, with the framerate working very consistently, even on medium-low hardware. In-game options are lacking the necessary attention, but by now, we came to convince ourselves that TellTale Games does mostly console-ports, and users can change more in their GPU’s control panel, rather in the game itself.
Visually, it’s a pleasure to see the so well received design style back, and with several improvements, both in details and color palette. Taking inspiration from the comic books, the art balances between the famous lines, giving a hand-made impression, while working with cel shading, that by now, gave uniqueness in its art direction. It’s a much more violent adventure, and pretty detailed in its gore factor, which is a reason to admire it further, considering the series are known for lacking details in many aspects, but the gore is well presented and not avoided at all.
The soundtrack for The Walking Dead: Season 2 was created by Jared Emerson-Johnson, with his appreciation for preserving the original atmosphere of the game, as well maintaining the same line of smooth melancholic melodies, with simple notes. Very ambiental, very minimalistic, but extremely captive to the heart. In some special cases, his efforts were joined by Jane Drews, a member of the animation department at the studio, who added the voice for the track “In The Pines/Where Did You Sleep Last Night”. A fantastic effort to give the perfect subtle soundtrack the game truly needed.
This second season is exactly what the fans were waiting for, to continue the journey through the eyes of Clementine, and her efforts to survive in the new world. A violent adventure that shines through its psychological intention, within a well directed plot and passionate events filled with tension. A must have for any collection!