STAFF REVIEW of The Walking Dead: Season Two (Xbox One)

Friday, October 31, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

The Walking Dead: Season Two Box art If you enjoy fantastic stories with characters you’ll actually care about, then I truly hope that you’ve played The Walking Dead by Telltale Games. Telltale has taken the iconic series and created their own stories and characters to play within the canon storyline that we know from the graphic novel and TV show. As I mentioned in my review for Season One of the game, it’s no secret that the ending had me in tears. For a game to bring that much emotion, you need to be doing something very right, and that’s exactly what they did. Season One was an emotional rollercoaster with an ending I’ll never forget, so when Season Two was announced, I was more than elated to find out I’ll get to go back to that world. By the time the credits rolled for Season 2, I may not have been as much as a slobbering fool I was in the previous finale, but it was apparent I’m clearly heavily invested into these characters and stories that have played out since release.

If you’re reading this review for The Walking Dead Season Two, I’m going to assume you’ve completed Season One. While I’ll avoid spoilers for this season, certain aspects of season one will be mentioned / spoiled, as to give context to how it affects season two, so take that as the spoiler warning (for season one events).

Most of the criticism season one had was that even though you’re making these incredibly difficult decisions in each episode, in the end they didn’t really matter all that much since everyone basically arrived to the same conclusion by the time the credits rolled. No matter what you did, Lee was dead, Kenny was dead, and so were many others. All of the choices you made in season one will count for something and affect not only your choices going forward, but will play a bigger role in the grand scheme of things. Choices you make in season two will not only matter, but you’ll quite possibly even see a different ending than I did. That’s right, multiple endings, all based on your decisions. These aren’t simple and small variations of the same ending either, depending on your choices, the endings are vastly different, allowing you to truly play out Clementine’s story the way you want to. Now that a Season 3 has been confirmed, I’m truly excited to see how the individual endings will play into that story.

Season one protagonist was all about Lee and his desire to protect and keep Clementine safe. For the duration of season two, you now control Clementine and tell her story. Not only does the game play differently just by controlling her, but you see the effect that Lee truly had on her when the hard decisions need to be made. Season two is about Clementine’s growth, not only by being older, but her growing up into a stronger person and an even better lead character. Even though Lee may be gone, his influence on her still shows.

Just like in season one, you’ll be faced with impossible decisions that need to be made in an instant, and no matter your actions, there will be consequences for our choices, no matter how noble you think they may be. Many times you’re only given barely enough time to read the dialogue choices before having to react, which I enjoy, because you can’t sit there and take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each selection, you have to react with instinct and what you think best. Ever had to make a split second decision, only to either regret it instantly or wondered what if you chose differently right after? I seem to be getting that feeling more often when playing season two.

What I really enjoyed about season two, is that for a time, there’s a centralized villain. Season one didn’t really have anything like that until the final episode out of nowhere, where in season two, it’s give a little more time to expand, much like the Governor storyline from the graphic novels and TV show. Small variations like this show how the game has evolved and there was a moment in this season where I actually stood up and shouted “OH MY GOD…. YES!!!!!”. That’s how invested I’ve become in this game and in these characters.

Season two isn’t as heavy on exploration this time around, and there’s slightly more combat to be had, but it’s the character development that takes front stage once again. At times you’ll have to choose sides, usually with little time to think about it, and there’s always fallout of some kind after making these choices. Also different with season two is how many new characters are introduced. There seemed to be a bigger focus on introducing new characters, which is fine, but many don’t stick around for long enough, for various reasons, for you to start to truly care about them, like much of the cast from season one.

Season two is also much more brutal. Sure there are zombie attacks, which is a given, but this season more so explores the more dangerous threat to Clementine’s groups safety; other people. One thing you don’t expect to see in gaming very often is violence against children. This is no longer off limits in season two and is sure to get your heart rate going if you’ve become as emotionally invested into the characters as I have. It’s odd though, for being in a zombie apocalypse, it wasn’t until a main character got seriously hurt until I realized how dire the situation they were in was. Another new way Telltale has played into my emotions was with disappointment. Not with how I feel with the game, but with the relationships between certain characters. You know when you got in trouble as a kid and instead of your parents getting mad at you they simply gave you the “we’re disappointed’ line? That’s the feeling I got dealing with the issues between Clementine and another character in this season, regardless of how many times I tried to apologize or explain myself. The reason this friction works between the two is without a doubt because of the amazing quality of the voice actors portraying these characters.

While some might not feel this Season’s ending is as powerful as the first, and I may not have cried as many tears, but it definitely hit some emotions for me and is quite memorable for the last few decisions I had to make, and would make again. As Season 2 came to an end, I couldn’t help but feel a pride in my Clem, as she may still be young in age, but she’s incredibly mature and is a true survivor. Like the last episode where you start to notice she’s not that little girl anymore, another situation arises that made me realize it once again; she’s growing up, and Telltale is showing this in a very subtle but amazing way.

Clementine is growing up before our eyes, even if we don’t see it. The smallest things are proving that she is growing up and making her care for her more and more. There’s one moment in particular that stood out proving this where she tried to fit through a small hole to unlock a door, but she gets stuck half way and mentions that she isn’t as small as she used to be. These small factors speak volumes of her growth (mentally and physically) and Telltale does it perfectly. Even though she may still be a young girl, in a way it feels as if she’s the one that takes care of the group and keeps things together. She’s had to grow up incredibly quickly and in unfortunate circumstances.

It would be The Walking Dead if situations didn’t spiral out of control, and it’s no different in this season either. Clementine is acting as the glue to this fragmented group and it’s up to her to keep things in check for as long as she can. Arguments arise that will become so heated that they may actually make you uncomfortable, like seeing family members or friends fight in front of you in real life while you sit helpless to do anything about it. Do you bite your tongue and stay quiet, letting it play out, or do you intervene, possibly making things worse and driving people further away? These are the type of situations that Clementine is thrown into and her actions, or lack thereof, will have astounding effects on the outcome. Usually there is no right and wrong, just a large grey area that you need to decide how you’re going to respond and react in a moment’s notice. These are the events that are shaping Clementine into MY Clementine.

Just like season one for Xbox One, the improvements that were made by making the transition to the newer and more powerful hardware, was minimal at best. Light again looks slightly better and the few glitches and hiccups that were on the Xbox 360 aren’t as drastic, but it’s also not completely eliminated either. That being said, this version is still the best version to play, even with the minor improvements.

Season two had some powerful moments for me that will stick with me, especially the huge reveal in one of the earlier episodes (there are 5 total), that I’ll always remember. If you’ve not played season one yet, do that first, then come into two, as you’ll be much more heavily invested into certain characters and it will no doubt change your though process when having to make some difficult decisions. If you’re continuing on from season one and was wondering what’s new or changed, season two definitely has a darker tone, and the fact that there are multiple endings based on your actions, that’s a huge step forward for the series that I hope stays a constant when season three finally arrives. If you want characters to care about and a storyline that you can’t stop thinking about, The Walking Dead is exactly what you’re looking for, just don’t be surprised if it shows you a side of yourself that you didn’t think was there. Many choices I made even surprised me at times, as I didn’t know that’s how I would naturally react when put into those situations.

Overall: 9.5 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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