Telltale Games The Walking Dead: The Game Season 2 Review


By: Shawn Herndon

Episode five has come and gone for the second season of The Walking Dead: The Game, and Telltale Games has finished its latest story in the universe that started in a comic book more than a decade ago. For five episodes, we followed Clementine on her journey to figure out who she is and who she will be in a post-zombie world. What we are left with is a game that was one of the best experiences of the year, but leaves room for improvement for Telltale.

The Walking Dead has been a game categorized as a “your choices matter” kind of experience. And while that’s true, it can be misleading. There are basically two types of games that allow you to make choices. The one people think of most is the kind that unlocks new art. In this, you make a choice – go left or go right – and based on that choice, you will see something that you otherwise would not have. For the most part, though, that’s not the case in The Walking Dead. If your choice results in a character dying, it is very likely that character will die for everyone one way or another. But what the Walking Dead excels at is allowing you to paint context. The same character may die for everyone no matter what, but your choice could color your perception and everyone else’s perception of you. And that’s not just through the choices, but why you made the choices as well. Did you let that character die so you could save someone else? Or did you let them die because you felt they were a burden to the group? Even if Clem doesn’t outright say your motivation, Telltale gives you a lot of wiggle room to paint your character. More of that would only be a good thing.

Where Telltale could improve is having a more complete idea of the game they want to create before the season even begins. For Season Two, it starts off with giving Clem the ability to manipulate people. It was a fascinating ability to give the character, but I wish there was more of it throughout the season because those options disappear around episode two. Even the preview screens at the episode selection indicate things were changed around between episodes. At least two of them better reflect a different episode’s story. It’s a small complaint, but fixing the problem would give people more faith that becoming invested in episode one won’t lead to a disappointing end.

But this season’s end does not disappoint. The biggest complaint I’ve heard about Season Two as compared to the first is that the arc was unclear. In Season One, you knew from the beginning that the point was to protect Clem, and how far you would go to do that was where you could paint your context. At first, Season Two seems like a series of random events about survival until the very excellent episode three. That’s when you figure out what Telltale’s trying to do. They want to know what kind of survivor will your Clem be. Will you put yourself at risk and help others so you can have a strong support group? Or will you become a loner who is willing to sacrifice others? The final episode puts this question to the test by giving you many opportunities to prove to yourself just who you are. And while the discussion around the end of season 1 among fans was how much did you cry, this time around the question is over what you did and how could you do that? With multiple endings and multiple variations of those endings, no matter what kind of person you decide to play as, you can follow that idea through to its logical conclusion in a satisfying way.

In the end, there are some dropped ideas that could be explored more and Telltale should tighten up its storyline for its next outing, but in the meantime you won’t be doing yourself a disservice by picking up Season Two.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

    One Comment

  1. Steven CowlishawSeptember 10th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    “The same character may die for everyone no matter what, but your choice could color your perception and everyone else’s perception of you”

    Actually thats not the case, no matte what choice you make, they still see you as being evil and making the wrong choice.

    They could’ve gone the whole “The Wolf Among Us” way and had multiple locations set up. Goto the Pawn shop or the Butchers first, or choose one over the other entirely, depending on those choices different conversations play out, more information is gained, characters are saved. But it seems they don’t even want you to have your own story for TWD until the very end of Episode 5 in Season 2, sure Wolf Among Us plays out with roughly the same ending as everyone else but it still gives you the feeling your choices mattered. Chances are thats it for Clem now, they’re unlikely to carry on a story that has multiple starting points unless they say you end up in one specific place no matter what and kicked out into the wild once more.

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