More of the same great tale.
Telltale Games really made a name for itself last year with the release The Walking Dead: Season One. Since then, the team has put out a wonderful first episode to yet another adventure series, based on the beloved Fables universe. As such, I couldn't help but go into the opening chapter of The Walking Dead: Season Two with high expectations. I'm happy to say I came away impressed, though not particularly blown away.
Episode 1: All That Remains is very much more of the same, which is by no means a bad thing if you loved the first season. Unfortunately, there just isn't a whole lot that Telltale has done new to raise the bar for the series going forward.
In All That Remains you play as Clementine, the cute little girl you were tasked with protecting in the first season. Several months have elapsed since the conclusion of Season One, and Clementine has clearly matured after having undergone some serious hardships. Telltale has done an incredible job of showing her subtle evolution, while still maintaining that childlike innocence that makes her character so endearing. This for me was easily the strongest aspect of the first chapter, and I can't wait to see where they take her character in future episodes.
Sadly, I don't feel the same about the supporting cast. I don't know if it's just because I haven't had as much time to get to know them yet or if they simply aren't that interesting, but I have yet to form a real emotional bond to any of the of the characters. Again, it is only the first episode, but I remember connecting with much of the cast early on in the first season, and even the first episode of The Wolf Among Us had me intrigued with the vast majority of the entire cast.
From a technical perspective, The Walking Dead: Season Two is very much like the first batch of episodes that preceded it. It has the same art style, which makes the poor lip-synching and stiff animations somewhat forgivable. I just wish that the team had found a way to ratchet up the production values this time around. Sure, the writing is still great, but the entire package has that infamous Telltale jankiness that all too often undermines the experience the studio worked so hard to create.
Gameplay-wise not a whole lot has changed, as this is still very much a point-and-click adventure constructed around decision making, with some QTE-based action moments thrown in for good measure. There's virtually no puzzle-solving whatsoever, as moving through the narrative and making choices is the meat of the experience. I can't really fault Telltale for taking this approach, as it both suits the studio's talents and stays true to the framework set by the concluding episodes of the first season.
It's always difficult reviewing a game of this ilk because the draw is nearly 100% the story, and naturally, that is not something I want to spoil for you. If you enjoyed your time with the first season, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you passed on All That Remains. It's got a solid narrative with plenty of surprising moments and a compelling protagonist. However, if you're going into it expecting a monumental step forward for the adventure genre, you'll be a bit disappointed.
With more episodes to come next year and The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones all on its plate, Telltale Games has its work cut out for it in 2014. I just pray that the studio is up to the task and The Walking Dead: Season Two ends up being just as memorable as the first. It's certainly off to a solid start.