The Walking Dead: The Game is notoriously difficult to watch at times. When it returned late last year with the first episode of season two, the world we found Clementine in seemed even more bleak and unforgiving than ever before. If you thought that was just a one-off, think again – Season Two isn’t going to give you much time to relax, nor offer many warm and fuzzy moments to give relief from the horrors of its Zombie-filled world. In fact, every time you think that something nice might be on the horizon, Telltale snatches it back.
We carry on immediately where episode one left off, and that means you will start very differently depending on which choice you made at the end of that instalment. Ultimately, that decision doesn’t seem like it was one of the most important that will face you in the series, but it gave an early indication that Telltale weren’t going to go easy on gamers second time around. Clementine begins to find out more about her new group of “friends” in episode two, including learning about some of their more shady secrets. There are a few lulls in the action, but these don’t last for long.
The episode as a whole is full of difficult decisions to make – as usual – but rather than being clear-cuts, the majority of the choices in A House Divided feel tough and will make you second guess yourself. It feels perhaps more stressful than Episode One, even though that was difficult enough – but just as you begin to like some of the new characters, they are put in peril by the choices you make. It’s not all about the new characters though, and we also see the 400 Days DLC link in with the main series for the first time – and these developments introduce a whole new dynamic to the group.
The character of Clementine herself continues to develop throughout A House Divided, and it definitely seems like a natural progression. She has certainly grown up a lot since we first met her in Season One, but it doesn’t feel like she has changed unnaturally. What is really good about her character development is that she has grown along with you, the player – you have seen everything that has shaped her new cynical, harder persona.
She is world-weary now, but has become a survivor, and despite the fact that she is only an eleven year old girl, she is convincing as the only person you can really rely on in the game. Players who have followed the whole story so far will now have a strong connection with Clementine and that is what gives The Walking Dead its emotional power. You want to protect Clem more than ever now that Lee isn’t there to do so, you have become her guardian – and that is a big responsibility in gaming terms.
In technical terms, the game definitely seems stronger than last season, and doesn’t suffer from some of the stuttering loading issues that persisted even into episode one of Season Two. The gameplay seems smooth and fluid in A House Divided, which is probably the first episode where this has been the case. This is a good thing obviously, but it is surprising that it took so long for Telltale to iron out the kinks.
The graphics are looking even more visually impressive than ever, and the cel-shaded style has been refined for Season Two, allowing for greater detail and perhaps even more subtle, convincing facial expressions – as those in Season One sometimes strayed into comic-book territory. Strangely, the soundtrack – which is usually one of the strongest elements in the series – seems a little off this episode. On a couple of occasions, somewhat light-hearted themes can be heard in the background during tense or dramatic moments, and whilst it doesn’t come close to ruining the scenes it is a slightly odd choice.
VERDICT: The Walking Dead Season Two may not have moved into top gear yet, but Telltale have already shown that they are more than capable of producing more gut-wrenching moments and difficult choices. Whereas the heart of the first season was the relationship between Lee and Clementine, it is now between Clementine and the player, as we have developed a strong bond with her, which only heightens as she matures and comes out of her shell. Already she feels far closer to a hero than she ever did last season, and after many of the revelations in this episode you feel that she really needs to become one.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Review code provided by publisher.