As a person who absolutely despises The Walking Dead as a TV show, Telltale Games’ adaptation of the series was definitely one of my favorite games of 2012. Season One of The Walking Dead was so good that even when I had to replay the entire thing due to my save being bugged, I still almost teared up at several points in the story as if it was my first time playing through it. In any case, I was actually unaware of when Season Two would be out until practically the day of its release, so when the game finally did come out, I went into it with the idea that the game would pretty much be the same as Season One: play as the main character, interact with other human beings and objects, and pretend that humans are bigger monsters than the zombies. I’ll warn you now that there may be minor spoilers, so skip to the end if you don’t want to get spoiled.
The gameplay is essentially the same as the first season, which is to say that it’s all basically a point and click adventure. You inspect objects, talk to people, and occasionally solve puzzles. Along the way there are lots of quick time events that force you to mash on Q. However, Telltale has thrown in a new type of QTE where the player has to click in a certain direction when arrows pop up on the screen. This breaks up the monotony of QTEs a bit so you don’t just mash on Q every time. As far as gameplay goes, I like it since it provides me enough interaction with the game to make me feel like I’m playing a game rather than just watching a movie or reading text.
As far as the UI goes, I dislike what they’ve done with it. Rather than opting to keep the way you interact with objects the same as in the first game, Telltale has changed it so that objects are highlighted with a very large circle. To interact with the object, you click on an icon that lets you either examine or do another action to the object. Whereas in the previous game you could hover over the circle and select which action you wish to take with the mouse wheel, in Season Two you have to directly click on the icon that represents the action you want to do. This is frustrating because misclicking happens much more frequently, and the change makes me feel like I’m playing a baby’s first Fisher Price game where the developers think I’m incapable of noticing for myself where object interactions occur.
Telltale has also changed the aesthetics of the dialogue choices. Rather than dialogue choices showing up in the middle of the screen, dialogue now appears in large boxes on the bottom half of the screen. I really hate this design choice because the game forces you to use your mouse to choose which dialogue you want go with since using the number keys to make choices no longer works. Not only that, but the dialogue boxes block up much of the screen for no reason. The way the dialogue boxes look now makes me think it was designed with a touch screen in mind because why else would they choose this aesthetic over the perfect, minimalistic design of the first game?
Storywise, Season Two retains much of the atmosphere and tension of the first game. People still die easily, so there’s always a sense of dread whenever new characters are introduced, and I find my heart beating quickly during many segments of the game, such as during a stealth segment where Clementine has to sneak inside a house. However, some parts of the game were almost too much for me to handle. For example, there’s a segment in the game where Clementine has to stitch a wound of her’s, and I nearly stopped playing because it was too torturous for me to watch. In terms of pacing, I never felt like I was being rushed through the story, and events played out naturally, although some parts of the story do feel incredibly obvious like when things go wrong during certain events.
If you liked the first game, then definitely pick up The Walking Dead: Season Two. The story picks up where Season One left off, and if the developers are to be trusted, than the choices you made in Season One and 400 Days influence the story of Season Two. Honestly, I’m loving the story so far, so when the first episode ended on a cliffhanger, I got mad because I realized that I’d have to wait another month or so for the next episode to get released. I’m still upset with the design choices of the game, but I’m willing to overlook it since the overall experience and story are so fantastic.
Available on: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Ouya; Publisher: Telltale Games; Developer: Telltale Games; Players: 1; Released: December 17, 2013; ESRB: M; MSRP: $24.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.