The Walking Dead - Season 2: All That Remains Review

It's back, and it's as harrowingly brilliant as it ever was.

Platforms Currently Available On: PS3 (Reviewed), 360, PC, Vita, Ouya, IOS After waiting one long year, Telltale is back with a second season of their emotionally charged rendition of the popular Walking Dead franchise. And let me tell you upfront, it might be a good idea to have a tissue box prepared from the get-go. No time at all is wasted as you€™re immediately thrust into one horrific situation after another. Playing as young and innocent Clementine is no less dangerous than playing as Lee €“ in fact, it€™s probably more dangerous. The theme of Episode 1 seems to be utter hopelessness, as even when something positive happens that sends an impression of slightly less perilous times ahead. It€™s a recurring theme in Episode 1 to dangle false hope in front of you only to swipe it away, usually in a surprisingly unpredictable manners. Shock is at an all-time high here, and fortunately it€™s not senseless shock, but legitimately scarring stuff that people would probably have to deal with in a zombie apocalypse. You may honestly need to put the controller down for 15 minutes after a certain sequence just to process a situation that instantly went from safe reassurance to full-on panic €œWhy is Telltale making me do this€ mode. Episode 1 is actually structured in a way that makes it a hindrance to go into even the slightest details about what it€™s actually about. I will say this though; Clementine is a much more durable and action capable protagonist this time around and it€™s not solely because we€™re controlling her. She has taken Lee€™s survival wisdom to heart and it€™s on display all throughout the episode. Despite that, Telltale also hits the nail on the head with getting across that Clementine is still a young child entering her teenage years and is nowhere as physically or mentally equipped as Lee. For example, Clementine cannot damage zombies with the brute strength of an adult, often requiring her to strike zombies with an object €“ whether it's something as fierce as a hammer or a rock grabbed in desperation €“ multiple times. Clementine isn't the only highlight though as we're also introduced to a new and moderately sized group of survivors, and even though most of their names are a jumbled blur in my mind due to being introduced en masse, it€™s safe to say I€™m pretty optimistic about them. They all appear to inevitably be the center of some emotional and probably depressing story arcs. Unless you know of some pregnant women that fared well in a zombie apocalypse, be my guest and enlighten me but I€™m not expecting the happiest of endings. Dialogue between these survivors and other NPC characters is as strong as ever, brilliantly written to where it€™s not immediately noticeable what the consequences of each remark will yield. A rather interesting observation I made though is that €“ similar to how Clementine acted towards strangers in Season 1- there€™s always an option to reserve your thoughts and refrain from saying anything. Because of this, the dialogue options feel tailor-made to Clementine€™s personality rather than basic comments. It really does feel like you€™re playing as Clementine, and no longer Lee.
Gameplay-wise is a different story as the fundamentals of QTE€™s have remained the same. That€™s a smart decision though because everything clearly worked in Season 1. Telltale has made some additions though that seem inspired from their other current project, The Wolf Among Us. The most noticeable example is actually highly natural too, and simply prompts you to flick the left thumbstick in a certain direction to avoid the grasp of zombies during scripted chase sequences. It's also worth mentioning that Season 2 has a received a total graphical overhaul, and is more detailed than any game Telltale has ever put out. Cel-shaded animation are more vividly brought to life, especially in a sequence towards the end involving a needle, some fishing hooks, peroxide, and rags. The facial expressions seem more lifelike too though and are a primary reason as to why it's so easy to sympathize with every character the series introduces. Yet most importantly, the framerate is completely fixed and rarely locks up during engaging dialogue or frenetic gameplay. I only have one gripe with Episode 1, which is unfortunate some sloppy narrative decisions towards the beginning that feel conjured up as more of a convenience to the writers. To openly explain what I€™m referring to would require me to dive into some deep spoilers, but it ultimately feels like Telltale wrapped up lingering plot points from Season 1 in a rush to push the story into its current focus. That€™s just a small blemish though on a powerful beginning to what is shaping up to be another episodic masterpiece. Congratulations Telltale, you€™ve hooked me again and have me in the palm of your hand. I'm Clementine and I'm loving it. I'm fearful for her safety at every second and can€™t wait to see what€™s in store next. What do you think of Season 2 so far? Comment below!
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