I’m not sure I like being Clementine. The whole of The Walking Dead Season One was about Lee teaching her how to behave in a zombie apocalypse where few people could be trusted. The brief window for every conversation choice with her was weighted with importance. Lee’s words – my words – would shape the future of this little human being. Even when I wanted to be an asshole, her little face staring up at me would remind me to be a better person. To equip her with the tools to survive in horrible world that offers few lucky breaks.
Turns out all that teaching was for nothing. Clem hasn’t become a mirror of my actions, reflecting the good and bad paths I exposed her to. By giving me direct control, Clem’s turned into just another avatar that bends to my whimsy.
Regardless, this is story that Telltale chose, so we all must accept it. Without giving away any spoilers, The Walking Dead Season Two picks up a few months after the end of the first season and Telltale themselves have come a long way. Where the very first Walking Dead episode was filled with bugs and UI annoyances, they’ve polished everything to a gleaming shine over the past 20 months.
Every possible action is clearly flagged so there’s no dying while you figure out what button they want you to press in a frantic QTE. Those who prefer to waft their mouse over objects can go into the menu and switch off the HUD markers. This time around, however, you’re forced into seeing which actions carried significance. I’m not a fan of that but, much like in The Wolf Among Us, that’s how it is.
As you might expect, Clementine is quickly plunged back into the world of zombie horror and human desperation. After a single event, the game takes a leap forward 16 months and she’s now noticeably older, though strangely not much wiser. Clem’s been surviving close to two years now. She’s 12 years old and yet hasn’t learned how to cook a rabbit.
An experienced hunter goes out to a fishing lake in the woods, yet he only brings one bullet for his rifle. These are moments of poorly manufactured drama and I thought the team working on this game were better than this. Most of the game is better than this, but it still grates when it happens.
Her wilderness skills may be poor but Clem has become suitably wary of strangers – she’s definitely not the meek little girl she used to be and everyone she meets quickly learns to realise this. After completing the 90-minute episode, I still don’t know how her story will fit into the 400 Days bridging episode but you’ll see plenty of new characters.
There may not be a tiny person to protect and impress any more but Season Two is every bit as wrought with tension and gruesome scenarios as Season One. It’s not for the squeamish and one scene in particular* had me cringing in revulsion. This episode carries a different tone, but it’s still a worthy successor to one of the best games of 2012.
*You’ll know the scene when you see it. Here’s my reaction video if you’ve played it yourself, or if you don’t mind spoilers.