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User Review : The Walking Dead: Season 2 - Episode 1 "All That Remains"

  • Captivating story with characters the player comes to care about.
  • Superb voice acting.
  • Great art direction.

    The Dead Are Walking Strong

    Last year, Telltale Games captured the gaming community’s collective attention with their rendition of the popular comic and television series, The Walking Dead. The game wasn’t a first-person shooter, or a role-playing game, or even a puzzler. No, Telltale Games went old-school on us with a revamped version of the classic point and click adventure. The Walking Dead: Season One focused heavily on making choices and dealing with the consequences, leading the player eloquently through a personalized and unforgettable story. And now, in season two of The Walking Dead, more choices are to be made, and the fates of characters we’ve come to love hang in the balance; only a buttons press away from either salvation or damnation.

    *If you have not finished The Walking Dead: Season One completely, I suggest that you either play the game (seriously, it’s a great game but is very story reliant, so I cannot promise that this review will be without spoilers from the first season), or skip this review!*

    “All That Remains,” or the first episode of season two, picks up exactly where the previous season left off. Lee is gone, Clementine is alone, and the world still sucks. With Lee out of the equation, the player is now in control of Clementine’s actions, and is omniscient of her thoughts. In terms of gameplay mechanics and controls, the formula is basically the same as the first season. The player controls the characters movement with the left analog stick, while the right stick controls a two-dimensional cursor that can hover over objects and people in the world, displaying button prompts as it highlights these things. During dialogue scenes, the player usually has three to four options to choose from, each corresponding to one of the four face buttons. And during the action sequences, the button presses can range from swiping an analog stick, mashing or holding a face button, and even pressing the shoulder buttons. Performing these actions is simple enough, and there is no confusion about when one should be performing them. All of these inputs are left completely up to the player; each one situational depending on previous choices. These choices are the games main attraction. As the player makes them, prompts will appear on the screen saying things like, “John Doe will remember that.” These prompts give the choices that much more weight; it reminds the player that the actions they take within the game will stick and cannot be undone. By creating profound and thought-provoking characters and settings, Telltale Games have masterfully made the act of decision-making something exhilarating, dramatic, fun and addicting.

    The Walking Dead started out as a comic book, which is very apparent while playing this rendition of the series. Every object, person, animal and walker in the world are outlined in heavy black lines, as if drawn into the scene. The characters in the game are heavily detailed, down to the items in their backpacks. Landscapes are beautifully realized, from the density of a forest, to the meticulously detailed rooms of large, country houses. The previous season of The Walking Dead, at least on the Playstation 3, was hindered by some annoying framerate issues. Thankfully, however, it seems that those issues did not make a return appearance for season two. So it would seem that this season is shaping up to be, at least artistically, more of the same. Which is certainly not a bad thing.

    Characterization and plot are the crucial elements that have made The Walking Dead the success that it is today. This could not be done without the help of superb voice actors and quality sound design. Clementine’s voice actor, Melissa Hutchison, returns and gives a phenomenal performance alongside a cast of new characters. The dialogue between these characters is often gripping and intense, so the delivery needs to be spot-on and passionate; which it is, on all accounts. Sound effects, from the creaking of wood under foot, to the cracking of zombie skulls, are authentic and impactful. The music in the game is also worth noting. Jared Emerson-Johnson composes somber melodies that accentuate the dread and depression during the calmer scenes, while also producing hectic, fast-paced scores that intensify situations during action sequences.

    The Walking Dead has received critical and public praise and admiration since it’s first episode in April of 2012. In a time when the video games market was saturated with first-person shooters and action games, The Walking Dead was a breath of fresh air for those of us looking for a captivating and emotional story. It proved that gamers had attention spans longer than the time it takes to look down an iron-sight, and that we actually wanted a video game with substance and meaning behind it. Telltale Games opened a path that a lot of gamers might not have known existed, or maybe they reopened it for those that had just forgotten about it. Either way, if “All That Remains” is anything to go by, which I believe it most certainly is, this path is one that gamers will continue down for quite a long time.

    Telltale Games obviously knew that they wanted to keep the art style from the first season. The game looks like an interactive comic book; the characters and scenery are beautifully detailed. The art direction really brings the world to life, while staying true to the comic book roots.
    The sound quality in the game is top-notch. Every voice actor and actress performs their dialogue wonderfully, giving soul to their respective characters. The soundtrack by Jared Emerson-Johnson enhances these moments based on the feeling of the situation.
    While the gameplay hasn't evolved at all since the first season, it is still just as fun to play. Making decisions and dealing with the consequences without a "do-over" is thrilling and intoxicating.
    Fun Factor
    Every moment of this episode is breathtaking. From the very beginning right up to the credits, I was glued to the screen. If you loved the first season of The Walking Dead, then you will love this one too.
    The only online component in this game is the statistics at the end-credits telling the player what decisions other players made. It's a neat little touch, but nothing unexpected as it was in the first season as well.
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    FogLight2731d ago (Edited 2731d ago )

    Great and well written review and I agree with your points but in my opinion, I would review games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us until the finale gets released so I can review the game as a whole since there is still a possibility that the final act, or any other act wouldn't be great but everyone has different opinions :D

    imtheman20132731d ago

    Thank you! And yeah, I thought about doing that. But I've never reviewed episodic games like this, so I wanted to experiment and see if it's something I can do... effectively, I guess. If that makes sense. I'm sure that, once every episode is done with, I'll go back and write a review of whether or not the season as a whole was good. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

    FogLight2731d ago

    Don't worry, I have yet to review an episodic game so this is going to be my first once the finale gets released. The problem is that it is going to be really hard to hide spoilers with story-driven games like this :/