It's been over a year since the conclusion of Telltale Games' critically acclaimed adaptation of The Walking Dead, which took home awards for 2012's game of the year and best voice actress. Much of the game's success came from Telltale's well-written dialogue and focus on original characters. This included Lee, the playable character and escaped convict, as well as Clementine, a little girl left in his care. Telltale aims to repeat their success with a second season. The first episode, titled “All That Remains”, launched for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 last week. Please note that this review will contain some spoilers for the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead. We advise that you play through those five episodes before jumping into this new release.
Upon starting up season two, the game will automatically search for season one save data before beginning a new file. If found, the player's previous choices made throughout the earlier episodes and DLC will be carried over to their new game. If not, the game will generate player choices at random. The extent of how these choices will affect future episodes is still unknown, although we do know that they can greatly alter Clem's dialogue options.
The season two opener immediately feels like a brand new story arc, rather than a simple continuation. It's been several months since Clementine was forced to kill Lee in order to stop him from becoming a 'walker', and she has since reunited with Omid and a very pregnant Christa. Clem, who has taken over as this season's main character, is no longer the helpless little girl she was during her first appearance. Training with Lee and a year's worth of terror have made her capable of defending herself. She now carries her firearm with her while exploring new areas, a task she is able to handle on her own. Of course, this isn't to say that Clementine has completely grown up. While she is certainly more sensible than the average child, she still retains the innocent demeanor that made fans fall in love with her in the first place.
“All That Remains” introduces a whole new set of characters, offering a completely different dynamic than last year's cast. There are also vague mentions of someone named “Carver”, who may be this season's primary antagonist. Major villains and focused story arcs are things that the original graphic novels, as well as the subsequent TV series, are known for, and were strangely absent from Telltale's previous release. It seems that Telltale is planning on changing this, which will hopefully please longtime fans of characters like The Governor and Negan.
As for the gameplay, not much has changed since season one. The Walking Dead is still largely a point-and-click adventure, with most of the game's emphasis being on dialogue options and exploration. One of the few complaints many had about season one was its combat, which never felt intuitive and was thankfully not a large focus of the game. Clementine's small stature means she can easily be overpowered, something that players will quickly learn within this first episode. This makes every encounter with the undead feel like a dire situation, leading to many tense moments. Fortunately, season two has taken a nod from Telltale's The Wolf Among Us, which had greatly improved upon the combat system. Dodging zombies and other predators feels much more responsive and satisfying than before.
In short, “All That Remains” offers an excellent taste of what Telltale has in store for fans in 2014. Clocking in at approximately two hours in length, it can easily be completed within one sitting. The second season opener for The Walking Dead can be found on PSN, XBLA and Steam. A season pass, which includes all five episodes, is available for $24.99. Episode two currently doesn't have a release date, but is expected to launch sometime in January of 2014. While it may be too early to tell, “All That Remains” has us hopeful for what appears to be another strong season in Telltale's fantastic series.