The Walking Dead Season Two

Better late than never, my segments of reviewing games long out of the minds of the hip kids who grab them on launch day is now called “Fashionably Late”. I have a laundry list of games to play that are outdated in the  world of instant news and updates – but I’ll play them, and I’ll share things that stick out about them. Rest assured Fashionably Late posts have nothing to do with fashion – a glimpse of my wardrobe would prove that.

I was a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Season One and I watched and waited closely for the second season. I purposely didn’t buy it when it came out because I fundamentally don’t agree with the episode system. It’s a neat novelty and I get why they do it for production value, but really, it is just one game that is released over time. I enjoy playing games on my own time and am fine waiting longer to get my hands on it. Netflix is great for this too where I can fire off back to back to back episodes of all sorts of shows that are a season behind.  I purposely didn’t wait this long but it fell of my radar (somehow) until Izlain mentioned it in a post. Of course it was on sale on Steam (isn’t everything?) so I had to buy.

I crushed the game over the weekend in a few play sessions. It didn’t disappoint. Warning, below this picture are some possible (but mild) spoilers. Read on at your own risk if you haven’t played!

This image captures a lot of the spirit

I love the above picture of Clementine. It captures her growth from the first season through the second in a blood-splattering sort of way. I have a nine year old son so for me I tried to play the game as much as I could as if it was through his eyes – how would he cope? What decisions would he make? This made the experience even more personal for me. I was engaged, I cared for what was happening to the people involved, and the reintroduction of certain old characters was also nice to see.

The Good:

  • Believable Walking Dead world. I am a fan of the tv show, the comics, and season one and this game captures the “world” of the Walking Dead really well.
  • Solid story. Not too twisty and gimmicky while being relatable.
  • Introduction of new and mostly interesting characters.
  • Diversity of characters – different races, backgrounds, accents and style. Reflective of the real world.

Needs Improvement:

  • Too many characters left not enough personal investment in them.
  • If I had a weeks rations for every non-believable interaction from adult to child Clem could survive the apocalypse. (A woman telling Clem that the baby she is pregnant with isn’t her husbands? Sending an 11 year old into a room by herself to “scout” for walkers, while two adults scout the other room? Reaching to Clem to make decisions for the group as the deciding vote? Basically anytime someone starts their story chain with “I can’t believe I am telling a kid this” or ending it with “Clem is right”) There are a lot of examples of reaching decisions that were difficult to believe. Often.
  • False sense of “choice matters”. The characters that are going to die are going to die no matter what you do. (Except one).
  • Most of the exploration that occurs is just filler and pushing time out. There really isn’t much of a game here.

The part I struggle with this game is whether it is a game at all. The QuickTime events aren’t challenging and repeat until you are successful, and always only have one outcome. The walk around and click hotspots that are pre-identified don’t add a lot to the experience and just feel like a time filler. The only choices you make, the verbal responses, don’t impact the end result at all – but it does impact how people treat you (and how, in turn, you feel about them). This is just an observation. The experience is still really solid. I am just torn if the QuickTime really adds to it all in the end, or if there was more focus on expanding the conversations and storylines and skip out on the detracting items if it could be an even more rewarding and enriching experience. Either way, it is a very solid game from start to finish and maybe I will be less Fashionably Late for season three.

I haven’t played The Wolf Among Us yet but am queuing that up. Soon as it goes on sale on steam.

9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. TWAU was on sale on the Humble Store yesterday, might still be able to get it (that provides steam keys).

    Season 2 did seem to have less impact than Season 1 when it comes to choice. I think it was still very well done though, and I really love the world of TWD and the way the games have played out. It’s awesome that they’re going to keep running with it, and I love the episodic nature, as it gives me something new to play every couple of months.

    I will agree with you that the people around Clem confide in her too much, but that’s to make the player feel in control, despite being a kid. If they would have made you play oh say Luke or Kenny, that wouldn’t have been an issue.

    1. It’s a minor complaint at best, it is fantastic. Would have been neat to do it through Kenny (or Luke) – Kenny preferably because he was fleshed out well in the first game. I just don’t think I could play as “his style” that was pretty clear in both series!

          1. It felt like an echo, but that’s okay. Looking forward to seeing what you think. I loved TWAU. You can read my playthrough when you get done with yours 🙂

  2. I felt like all the characters went completely off the rails in the last 2 chapters. In episodes 1-3 there was a big bad to rally against but once that thread ended, I felt that the writers didn’t really know where to take the story. All the characters started making really dumb, irrational decisions that weren’t really backed up by anything that had happened previously in the game.

    I agree about how choice seemed to matter less in this game. (Spoiler warning) I remember seeing graphics of the ending of TDW S1 and seeing how some people ended up with just one extra person alive starting the final chapter, while some (like I did) had a whole party of companions. In S2, as you said, people were going to die no matter what choices you made. Besides the final choice you make, I don’t think going back through the game and doing things differently would make much of an impact on how things played out.

    1. I think some of the deaths (like Luke’s) was for killing purposes only. It was weak, and felt meaningless – especially for such a major character. I would have thought his death should have been more impactful. (personal opinion)

      I agree somewhat on the off the rails part but I really think they meant to show Kenny’s impact on the rest of the group as tearing them apart – which lead to the group wanting to steal the truck and leave, and what not. I took it as that way but agree they could have made that more substantial to make it clearer.

      The experience was still overwhelmingly positive and I’m curious who is the lead next one – they would be smart to use Kenny or Jane, but thats a 50/50 split.

      I think they need to mix it up and do two concurrent storylines that intertwine throughout.

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