Season two of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead received a warm welcome when it premiered last December. The strong opening episode managed to introduce a new cast of compelling characters while introducing players to the idea of playing as Clementine. After a long wait, the second episode was finally released earlier this week, and proved to be everything fans of this franchise could hope for. We'd like to warn you that the following will contain spoilers for the first six episodes of the series, so we highly recommend you play up to this point before reading further.
“A House Divided” wastes no time in throwing players into the action. The episode kicks off with Clementine running for safety alongside either Pete or Nick, depending on the player's choice from the end of “All That Remains.” These scenes are very different from each other tonally. They offer some nice character moments, and quickly demonstrate how Telltale is putting more emphasis on the player's decision this season, and how it will affect the other characters.
It isn't long before Clementine finds herself alone when an eerie stranger comes to the door. This scene is where the episode, and the season so far, really picks up. Telltale does an excellent job illustrating just how helpless Clementine can be when confronted by a threatening adult, while still allowing her to stand her ground. This conversation is quietly intense, discomforting and may possibly be one of the best scenes in the series.
At this point, Clementine and the player are still getting used to these new characters. Telltale uses this adjustment period to weave the issues of trust and loyalty into the story in such a way that these may likely become this season's overall themes. Players will find it difficult to decide who to side with and how to respond when things get heavy. There are also plenty of references to Lee's journey, which will make things especially difficult for long-term fans.
We mentioned before that this season gives more weight to the player's choices than we'd seen previously. Whereas the first season usually made it clear when a player's decisions would change the fate of a main character, “A House Divided” doesn't let the player know whether they've doomed one of their companions until it's too late. In the end, we don't know how much impact our choices will really have on the story, but hopefully this chapter is a good indicator.
Like the episodes before it, “A House Divided” moves at a brisk pace. Instead of dwelling on the questions raised during the season opener, The Walking Dead moves directly into the heart of the overarching plot while keeping enough mystery for fans to keep pondering over until the release of the next episode. More is revealed about the mysterious Carver that the group seems to fear, as well as his possible motivations for coming after them. This episode also gives fans a taste of how their choices from season one and the “400 Days” DLC will play a major role in this season's storyline.
Overall, this season is shaping up to be even stronger than the first, and this episode may be one of the best yet. We look forward to seeing what Telltale Games will do with the series next, and hope that the rest of the season can continue to surprise and entertain us like “A House Divided” did.
+ Decisions matter more now than ever
+ The writing continues to be top notch
+ This season's villain gets an excellent introduction
- Character movements are still mechanical
- Sometimes, none of the decisions reflect what you'd actually say or do
This review was made possible with a Steam code provided by Telltale Games