GAME NAME: The Walking Dead Season Two: Episode 1 – All That Remains
DEVELOPER(S): Telltale Games
PUBLISHER(S): Telltale Games
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): April 22, 2014
We all know zombie apocalypses suck. I imagine they would suck even more as an orphaned 9-year-old girl. But thanks to The Walking Dead: Season Two from Telltale Games, we get to experience exactly how sucky it is as we play through the game as returning fan favorite Clementine. Released last December for most platforms, the beginning of this five-episode adventure series has finally returned to the portable Vita screen in all its bloody undead glory.
(The review below will contain story spoilers, though attempts were made to keep them vague.)
Season Two Episode One starts off several months after the conclusion of Season One, and finds Clementine making her way in the world today (it takes everything you got) with a couple old friends, and I was glad to see them as I started on the new adventure. Things go from pleasant to (literally) shitty in a hurry when a bathroom encounter goes horribly wrong, and they don’t really slow down from there. You’ll soon find yourself deciding how to react to a hostile gang that rudely interrupts your fire building. Do you stay and try to help or do you run like hell? Either way you’re going to end up on your own until you eventually meet up with a new group of strangers, and it is up to you to figure out who to trust and who to distance yourself from.
Thematically things are pretty similar to Season One, with the obvious change of playing as a little girl instead of a grown man. Decisions you made in Season One and the 400 Days DLC will carry over to this season and affect gameplay and story elements. Or if you haven’t played Season One yet or played it on a different system (like me), the game will retroactively make random choices for you. These tough choices are the game’s calling card and they don’t disappoint here. Later on in the episode you are presented with an especially heart wrenching choice that made me feel horrible when selecting each choice. These kinds of situations present themselves quite often and characters will remember what you said, for better or worse.
Story wise, the content is still top notch. There are times you can feel exactly what the characters are going through and you develop a real connection with those that have some trust left in their shattered world. The first episode contains more of an action story and does a good job introducing new characters while still leaving enough mystery among them to keep you coming back for future episodes. The tense, cringe-worthy moments are in great number, and one in particular that gave me extra goose pimples contains the application of some improvised first aid. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as there are some genuinely funny moments as the characters interact with each other.
While the story is amazing again, the game performance falls behind. Most times switching between one big scene or another or even in and out of dialog choices will give your Vita a nice big hiccup as you wait for things to catch up. It’s not the most horrible wait time in the world, but you definitely notice it happening quite a bit, and about halfway through the episode it gets downright annoying. The Vita port also offers touch-screen controls for dialog response as well as character control. The quick-time events that are presented on occasion can either be performed with swipes and taps, or traditional button presses. I found that swiping around the screen to dodge enemies was inconsistent in its reliability, resulting in a missing chunk of flesh from my shoulder more times than I would like. I eventually went back to just using the analog sticks for those actions. However, the touch screen is wonderful for aiming sections. Though there aren’t that many, when they occur it’s nice to be able to just tap zombie targets instead of moving a cursor.
The art style continues in its signature comic-book cell-shading glory. Everything looks very sharp on the OLED screen. I personally love the look and am glad they didn’t change anything. You can see real emotion in the characters faces and hunger in the zombies gaping jaws. The voice-work is top notch like before as the entire cast does well bringing these characters to life. All of this together presents a pretty impressive audio-visual package that is just as equal as it’s PC and console brothers & sisters.
If you’ve played the first season of The Walking Dead and enjoyed it, it’s kind of a no-brainer to continue the excellent story presented in Season Two. Episode One a great way to jump back into the world of walkers, and while it may not perform the best at all times and some touch screen controls may be wonky, the overall experience outweighs any shortcomings. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the episodes take us.