They keep doing it. Telltale Games seem to be able to pump out game after game without them getting boring, tiresome or lacking in excitement. With The Walking Dead hitting such a peak at the end of Season 1, and the new season opening with quite a bang it would be easy for the writers to tone things down a bit for this episode, much like they have in The Wolf Among Us. And to a degree they have, but with enough shocks, twists and eye-openers to keep even the most hardened of gamer looking over their shoulders in the dark, it’s very safe to say this particular series is ticking along very nicely indeed.
One thing worth mentioning now before we get too far, is that after what is now 7 episodes of the Walking Dead series, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to not drop any spoilers. If you’re looking forward to playing previous episodes and want the surprises to stay in one piece, I’d suggest you stop reading. I’ll save you some time instead: this episode is ace. Now go and play the others.
Still here? Marvelous. So you’ve either played up to and including S2E1, or you don’t care about knowing. Either way, I’m safe to point out that by the end of episode 1 we still don’t know what happened to Christa, something which is clearly still playing on Clementine’s mind. We begin this episode still teamed up with the new group who found and saved Clementine last time round, and with the opening entirely different depending on the final choice from Episode 1 (where I opted to save Nick) it’s impressive to see just how differently the story pans out depending on which snap-decision you made at the river. Whatever happens, it’s not long at all before trouble kicks off, and as is becoming the norm it’s the other humans nearby who become the biggest danger.
You can expect more people to die in this episode, although one such death left a potentially explosive storyline flat on its arse with nowhere to go which is a shame. But generally it’s going to be interesting to see how the departures pan out, especially in Clem’s mind. It easy to feel sorry for this girl, still only 11 but taking the weight of a zombie apocalypse on her shoulders like a seasoned pro. And yes, I know it’s just a game, but anyone who’s played this up until this point has either bonded slightly with her as a character or has no soul. The episode’s goings on are made all the more uncertain by the return of a previously departed characters – I won’t say which one obviously, but they have a stark effect on the story and cause a potential rift in the groups with Clementine stuck firmly in the middle. There’s even fleeting happiness this time round, a suggestion that after all of the hardships everything could end up being ok. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out how long that lasts though.
Again, there are the customary big choices which do a perfect job of always making you feel like you’ve picked the wrong one every time, even when you get to the end and realise you and 80% of other players did the same thing at a key point. But that’s the beauty of these games. Every decision you make has an impact, both in the story and in your own conscience and emotions. There’s no let up this time round – I’m still kicking myself for not telling one guy the truth at a key point, and can’t help but wonder whether something I said also ended the life of one of the characters. I guess I’ll find out next time round.
And, like a flawless soap opera, that’s the painful wonder of Telltale’s more serious games. Leaving you hanging, leaving you wanting to know what comes next, and wanting a chance to make up for your mistakes. Those chances might not come, but it’s going to be awesome to find out in a few weeks.