The Walking Dead - Season 2 Episode 2 - "A House Divided"by Adam Dileva
Ever had to make a split second decision, only to either regret it or wondered what if you chose differently right after? I seem to be getting that feeling more often when I play The Walking Dead. Season 2 has finally started and now Episode 2, titled "A House Divided", starts to put into motion many of those split second decisions we chose in previous episode. Every choice has a consequence, and we're starting to see that come true with this episode.
Last December Season 2 started and while I really enjoyed seeing the slightly older Clementine, it was a shift from the gameplay we knew from Season 1. It was grittier and had a more serious tone to it. Much like the recent season on TV, Season 2 of The Walking Dead is starting to be more character focused and giving you opportunities to make certain choices, of which all outcomes will usually come back to haunt you in some way. Much like previous episodes, "A House Divided" will greatly factor in not only your previous choices in past episodes, but also even right away when you need to make seemingly impossible decisions, where sometimes the lesser of two evils is really the only option. If you played the DLC episode "400 Days", even some choices you made in that will come to light in quite a shocking way. If you've been playing since the first season you'll no doubt react quite shockingly to this episode and just like Telltale Games knows how to do, your emotions will be tugged from different angles.
Episode 2 takes place right where the last chapter left off where Clementine is with a new group and recovering from an attack. Where Episode 1 was more about introducing the character and giving you a feel for their personalities and stories, "A House Divided" really starts to flesh out these characters more and gives you some insight into why they are the way they are and sheds more light on their whole situation that's been shrouded in secret. Luke starts to show his leadership role more so in this episode and looks like he could possibly be the fill in for Lee at this rate, you don't tend to hate Rebecca as much (ever so slightly), and Alvin gets some more screen time as well. Nick still plays the role of rebel very well, though you may even find reasons to care for him. You learn a little more about Sarah, but the buildup that Episode one had about the evil Carver finally comes to light.
While Season 1 was more about survival in this new damaged world, Season 2 now has a villain that some will relate to the comic and show's Governor. He plays such a fantastic bad guy that you can't help to hate him or shout "no don't" when something goes down. While I think an ultimate ‘bad guy' in Season 1 wouldn't have fit properly, Telltale has done an amazing job in a single episode at making me detest this new arrival. I don't want to give any spoilers away, but let it be known that I had a genuine ‘get up and shout "yes"' moment in this episode. While this episode is more narrative driven, that doesn't mean its void of action, quite the opposite, especially in the final leg. You can clearly see that Telltale is laying down the groundwork for a much larger story involving many of these character and I'm so excited to see where it goes from here.
While Episode 2 may be more about the story and narrative, the pacing is fantastic and even in brief conversations with characters, you start to become attached and invented in these characters. But this is The Walking Dead, and it's almost a rule, which if something good happens, something worse is on the way, and that's no different here. Gameplay remains largely unchanged, and there are still some quicktime events in the action scenes, but nowhere near as heavily as it was relied upon in the previous episode. There's also less exploration in this episode, but this helps the pacing and story progress at a quicker pace, as you always want to know what's about to happen or what the consequence of your last choice is going to be. Most of the time you'll be choosing your dialogue, of which people may remember your actions that could come back to hurt you in future episodes, which has been hinted at in the next episode it seems.
If you've played the previous episodes, then you'll know about the odd glitches and hang-ups that the game tends to have. This hasn't been changed or fixed yet and you'll have moments of freezing and hiccups randomly when loading or scene transition, but I didn't have any combat issues with loading like I did in the previous episode. Clearly the engine needs some tweaks, but nothing hindered my gameplay aside from slight moments where it took me out of the immersion. That being said, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.
The Walking Dead is all about choice, and what you think the right choice is at that time. You'll never know the full repercussions of your choices until later when it's too late, but you make the best decision you can when it happens. Some decisions will weigh very heavily on your conscience and you may be like me and wait till the last possible second before being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. Sometimes you'll have to choose sides, where there will always be fallout of some kind. The Walking Dead is all about choice. Yes I'd like to go back and replay the episodes again, choosing differently so I can see the alternate outcomes, but I don't suggest doing so. Making choices, good or bad, and then living with the outcome and consequences later on is what makes The Walking Dead easily one of my favorite games in recent years. Telltale does an amazing job at pushing the story forward while actually making you care about the characters, even if they don't stick around for too long (I still feel bad about not saving you Doug).
"A House Divided" actually had me shout "YES" with a specific reveal and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Getting a genuine response like that proves how well The Walking Dead performs at getting you invested in the narrative and characters with absolutely perfect voice acting and emotion. Episode two is by far my favorite to date, even with the incredibly strong and emotion finale to Season 1. This episode specifically reminded me how much I loved previous characters and is doing a fantastic job at getting me excited to see what's coming in the next episode. While the tone and gameplay focus may have changed slightly in this episode, I can see that the cards are starting to be dealt for a much bigger payoff in the end if the quality of this episode continues going forward. A fantastic episode throughout and I highly suggest picking up the Season Pass so that you can see how this whole story arch will play out in the remaining chapters. "A House Divided" will play with your emotions but tug even harder on your heartstrings.