The Walking Dead Season 2 Review
It might seem strange, but zombie apocalypses have woven some of the best tales as of late. The Last of Us, 28 Days Later, and The Walking Dead have proven that even the undead can have some brains put into their stories. Telltale Games, hot on the heels of the original The Walking Dead series, is back for a second round with The Walking Dead: Season 2. Can this sequel live up to the original’s legacy, or is it a shambling mess just begging to be killed off?
Taking place a few years after the events of the original game, The Walking Dead: Season 2 places you in the shoes of the young girl Clementine. Much like any zombie apocalypse, her final destination isn’t exactly clear — all she knows is that she is looking for food, shelter, fellow survivors, her comrade Christa, and a oft-rumored utopia simply called Wellington. These vague objectives allow for an air of spontaneity throughout the script, where events and objectives in one two-hour episode are vastly different from one another.
However, this can also be a curse. Unlike the original title, The Walking Dead does not have as clear of an objective in mind. Nothing quite packs the same punch as Clementine’s original objective to find her parents. As a result, it can be hard to care about the journey when there is no clear destination (or climax) in mind. The script simply meanders too much, placing more weight on the new faces that come and go each episode.
That leads to another critical point regarding The Walking Dead: Season 2. In a story-driven game like this one, characters play a crucial role. The motley crew of Season 2 is all over the map, but the game barely gives any time for players to become vested into the characters. Some die, some leave for no reason, and some just keep their traps shut. It oftentimes feels like a number of different characters were just shoehorned into the plot, simply to evoke a cheap sense of emotion. When a dramatic moment finally does happen amidst the lengthy dialog, it comes off a little too heavy-handed and predictable to be taken seriously. A particularly nasty example happens when a baby enters the equation. The moment you see it bawl its eyes out, you can see from a mile away that it will become a serious liability that will tear the group apart.
This is compounded with Telltale’s trademark choice system(tm). The Walking Dead: Season 2 prides itself on the choices you can make that will supposedly change the story. The trouble is, the game simply offers the illusion of choice. 9 times out of 10, choosing to save X person over Y will eventually have both of them die. This limits replayability, one due to some serious railroading with the script. The original title had the same problem, but not to the degree seen here. If you go off the script in the slightest, interactions will come off as awkward and nonsensical, simply to help move the plot forward.
When all is said and done, The Walking Dead: Season 2 is a disappointment. This comes as a shock, especially after the stellar review Gamers Heroes gave the original title. The TLC and heart of the original has been infected, leaving something that is akin to a shell of itself. It’s not a terrible effort, far from it. It simply does not reach the heights of its predecessor.