- "Just keep shooting."
Episode two of season two of The Walking Dead: The Game came out recently, and it was intense! Following an okay introductory episode, "A House Divided" ramps it up with several twists, uncomfortable moments, and tense situations. It's a definite improvement, and possibly even one of the best episodes in the series thus far.
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The first thing I noticed was how stiff the animations and lip syncing were, moreso it seems than usual. The game makes up for this with boldly drawn cel-shading, which looks better than ever. The first chapter puts the player right into the thick of things with Clem and the survivor from episode one (Pete or Nick) trying to escape from walkers. In the scene I played, things quickly quieted down after a short QTE session to hook you in. Afterwards, you get to deal with the aftermath of the last episode, and explain your actions.
In the second chapter, the player has an opportunity to teach Sarah how to use a gun, showing how Clementine has grown by mirroring the scene from chapter three, in which Lee teaches Clem how to shoot. After spending a bit more time with Sarah, the player is thrust into another tense situation. After building him up, William Carver shows up. This single scene clearly establishes Carver's character, portraying him as a ruthless man with a kind façade. If you go for the knife, he'll grab it first, and tuck it away, which communicates to the player pretty well that, despite seeming like a trustworthy person at first, he's clearly a survivor. At this point, he's armed and you're not, and you can't help but feel helpless. Definitely an excellent introduction to this new character.
After some more dialogue, the group ends up at a bridge, leaving Clementine and Luke to scout ahead. At first, when Luke gives you the plan to kill two walkers, I thought my choice to take on the big one had been disregarded. I was pleased to find that when I turned my camera, I could do what I wanted, fuck the plan. It doesn't mean much, but being able to make the decision I want to make, and actually follow through with it really does feel satisfying. The bridge scene is one of the better action scenes in the series thus far, and actually forces you react quickly in some places. Overall, I’d say the walker encounters in season two are a vast improvement over the ones in the first game. Between the nail-biting dialogue and the butt-clenching action scenes, there's never a dull moment in The Walking Dead: The Game.
So... Kenny’s back. As soon as you start going down the ladder, it’s obvious. It’s obvious that they’re telegraphing a returning character, based on the way they block him out, both when you’re climbing down the ladder, and when he’s blocked by the group. Also, the hat’s a dead giveaway. [ I've said before] that Kenny returning really bothers me, for a few reasons. Kenny is one of the most dynamic and three-dimensional characters in the series, and his death defending Ben (or Christa, but the former is a much better ending for him) is a perfect end to his character arc. Everything goes full circle with him, and having him be alive kind of lessens the impact of his “sacrifice”.
All of that said... it is nice to have a familiar face in the group. For both episodes, I was hoping for a returning character, and the only one we really got was Roman, if that counts for anything. Kenny’s a main character, and a fan favourite, so despite my issues with his return, I am happy to see him back. If they take his character somewhere interesting, maybe it’ll be for the better. Right now, time will tell. On that note, when's Lilly coming back?
A lot of references to season one this episode. Clem can draw comparisons to former characters Nick screws up a lot like Ben does, and he’s dealing with loss in the same way as Lily. When talking to Kenny for the first time, he’ll mention Lee, and for me, getting to hear about how I “took care” of Duck was nice. After, we get another familiar face-Bonnie! Bonnie being here makes the most sense, since she will join Tavia no matter what. Having Bonnie come in as a scout for Walter is a surprising turn of events. I didn't hesitate to help her out, because she's a sweet and timid person. She wouldn't be working for a guy like Carver, would she? Well, turns out I was wrong.
And finally, we have a strong antagonist in William Carver. Carver is ruthless, relentless, and intimidating. Odds are, players will have a good reason to hate him by the end of his arc, wherever that takes us. Hopefully, Carver's story will last the entire season. One of the biggest weakness was the lack of a strong overarching antagonist, with the stranger only being foreshadowed in episode four, before being introduced and killed in the next. This season, Carver was built up in episode one, and comes out full force as a villain in episode two. Based on the preview, he'll be an interesting antagonist with whom the player can interact. If Telltale players their cards right, we could have an antagonist to match, and even surpass, The Governor.
This episode was packed full of twists, most of which you can figure out yourself, if you’re clever enough. The events and characters are interwoven in a way not unlike 400 Days, where a lot of mysteries are left for the player to discover on their own. If the next few episodes are at least as good as this one, we'll be in for one hell of a season.
- Whether or not you take the blame for Sarah’s photo seems entirely dependent on how tolerant you are of Sarah. Personally, I went ahead and took the blame, because being a dick in a zombie apocalypse doesn't get you anywhere. It would appear that I'm in the minority however, but I think that might just speak to how people feel about Sarah as a character more than anything.
- Having to choose where to sit was one of the hardest choices I've had to make in a video game, right after choosing to cure cancer or end world hunger in Saints Row IV. Choosing to sit with Kenny lead to some extremely awkward moments, and that was tougher to swallow than a lot of choices I've had to make in most video games.
- After a shocking reveal, the player is put into an uncomfortable position when asked to tell the truth or lie about Walter killing Matthew. Knowing The Walking Dead, telling the truth seems like a good idea in general. Despite being fairly confident in my decision, it was still a tense, and uncomfortable moment.
- Depending on how you feel about Nick, you can convince Walter to either kill or forgive him. More than any other decision, a strong majority of players went with forgiveness, which isn't difficult to understand, considering how Ben turned out last season. For me at least, I was willing to be a little nicer to Nick, because of my past experience with episode one.
- What did end up being an almost even split was leaving to find Kenny, or surrendering in the hopes of sparing the people Carver has prisoner. I chose the former option, and my gung-ho attitude lead to the death of a couple characters, which didn't feel great. Sure, I ended up in the same place, but not without all the same people, which left me with a bad taste in my mouth, in a good way.