- Format: PC (version reviewed), Mac, Vita, iOS, 360, PS3
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Players: 1
- Site: http://www.telltalegames.com/walkingdead/
Sequels! Almost all games have them and Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead is no exception. If you haven’t played the first season, then stop reading this review. Buy the game. Start downloading it. And while you’re downloading, continue reading this review.
The Walking Dead was undeniably one of the best and most successful games of 2012; so it’s a hard game to follow up on. Or at least we thought so. Telltale doesn’t break stride at all, it’s strength to strength with the first episode. Quick to the point, it starts up the game with knowledge of the first season spewed into your face rapidly to fill you in on a few major plot points. There is a little difference in what you see depending on a) whether you chose to import a save from the first season and b) what choices you made. If you don’t import, a “canonical” set of choices will let you know how it all went down instead.
If you haven’t already noticed, this season is poised to let you play the role of Clementine – the young girl that you looked after in the first season. Her face has been plastered on almost every released screenshot and the box art has her on it – so even if you didn’t know who she was you’d know you’d be playing as her.
Now slightly older than in the events of the previous game, she is yours to mould as either a nice, nasty, silent, or matter-of-fact sort of person. Her age and general demeanour make her a little more of the blank canvas to project what you want onto her, in a more satisfying way than Lee – who always had the echoes of his past brought up in relation to his morality.
Clem is a strong character after all the hardship she has had to face and there are some brutal scenes that’ll make you squirm or double take at the sheer strength that it comes at you with. They really don’t hold anything back and it goes a lot further than most games (and a lot of TV) would ever dare to go. The power is not only to the visuals but also the incredible sound design and voice acting. Melissa Hutchinson reprises her role as Clem including the slightly older and deeper voiced Clem, which might take you a little while to get used to, but you should warm to it after you hear it for a while.
This episode is a little heavier on action, as there aren’t a huge amount of opportunities for getting to know the characters you encounter on your own terms. While it makes for a brilliant entrance to the season, it leaves quite a few of the other characters as unknown quantities. You don’t get to spend much time talking to anyone for extended amounts of time but most of the characters are quickly characterised in what little dialogue they have or by being talked about briefly.
There are a huge amount of mysteries that begin in the first episode and the teaser that you get after completion only adds to that sense of unfolding plots. The group of Survivors that you encounter seem to have a lot of interesting subplots, and there looks to be a lot to get stuck into in the second episode; should they cut the pace of the action to let up for a little more character interaction.
It’s worth mentioning that as great as the first season was this one seems to have sharpened up the visuals a touch – even if it is just the character models that look nicer it does look just slightly clearer. It also seems to have done away with the minor audio glitches that marred its predecessor’s early episodes.
As with most games that offer choices the more you play through – especially early on – you’ll get far less out of it as the illusion of choice is dispersed on subsequent playthroughs and the linearity of certain events bares its teeth. You’ll pick out a lot of points in the game where you know that something will go wrong if this simple thing is done but the game won’t let you do, which is a little frustrating; just as it was with the first. There are a few differences in the story that look like substantial changes depending on which you choose but it’s too early to tell – especially since both of the larger changes in the first season seemed to cause less impact due to other circumstances in the story. Whether or not those choices carry much weight we’ve yet to see but it’s still a great yarn that’s spun so far.
Just buy it. It’s difficult to say anything else really. If you didn’t like the first season this really isn’t going to change your mind but even if you enjoyed it even the tiniest amount, then this should be well worth picking up. It might be a little difficult for anyone squeamish to get through as one section will make most people squirm in their seats.