The Walking Dead: Season 2 – “All that remains” review

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When only emotional self-destruction will do…

My game of the year 2012 makes its grand return; this season we continue the story of Clementine, an orphan, as she tries to find a new group whom she can trust and bond with.

Question is can it live up to my high hopes?

Or will it fall flat; like a zombie with vertigo?

*I started this game on PS4 as a result my save file from last gen didn’t carry over – the choices were randomised at the beginning of the story*

By the end of Season 1 clementine was changed, damaged, emotionally and physically she would never be the same – at times the developers wanted us to know that she was changing.

One of the most poignant scenes was when her hair was cut short; this scene took place directly after the ‘Duck scene’ and highlighted that she was irrevocably changed, she had seen things that one doesn’t just forget about and she grew up. The loss of her hair was a metaphor for the things she had lost; a visual reminder that she was growing up yet she was still reliant on adults to look after her (after all Lee cuts her hair and teaches her how to shoot).

Season 2 reinforces the idea that she is no longer a child; she has lost; not only her innocence, but everything and everyone she loves and trusts – this pilot episode serves to examine what lengths she is willing to go to, to survive. These lengths are shocking and; often, unsettling for the players.

The game-play is exactly what you expect from a Telltale game, it emphasises the narrative and puts the game-play mechanics and technical prowess to the back-burner.  In saying this i enjoyed the game-play of escaping antagonists through frantic clicks of R2 and swipes of the left-trigger and I enjoyed the interacting with objects and solving the simple puzzles – being geared toward narrative ensures everyone will see the end.

Unfortunately the neglect of the technical-side shows, while Telltale has sorted out the frame-rate issues from the previous versions they have left the animations as they were; in short, mannequin-esque and unconvincing.

The recap scene is also edited in a funny way (funny peculiar, not funny haha) however and it does lose some sense of the drama we witnessed in season 1. The voice acting is still second-to-none, they add to the gravity of the scene and make the drama (and choices) seem very real, every time you make a choice it feels like it has gravitas and will matter – no binary choices here it would seem!

And you will make a lot of choices here! With every scene Clementine gets pushed further and further away from safety and the stakes becoming increasingly higher, every time you have to make a decision (be it a dialogue choice or something…more) you will ponder whether or not you’ve made the right one. The kicker is; there are no right choices, just the one you’ve chosen.

This moral ambiguity is outstandingly well implemented. I found myself manipulating those around me by purposely picking the most child-like response (including sad eyes) using what I had to win over characters I needed to befriend and lying to others when it would further my situation and debating whether or not to blackmail a pregnant woman (I chose not too). By the end of this episode I wasn’t picking the “best” option – simply because there wasn’t one – I was picking the one that made me feel least “bad” – this game was making me question my morals and was evoking an emotional response – high praise indeed.

I feel that Telltale wanted to make this episode a character study of Clementine, what they did though was create a character study on me. While Clementine was remaining strong – I was flagging. There were times I had to look away from the screen – not because of anything particularly graphic but because I was so invested in the tale that I was worried for Clementine (although there was one scene….)

I was nervous about the decision to make Clementine the lead character. I shouldn’t have. Telltale has created a character that is vulnerable and scared and yet is stronger than any of us. While I’m sure it would’ve been easy to manufacture a bad-ass survivor for us to follow, I’m glad that I’m following Clementine – is easily the most real protagonist in a game I’ve ever played and I’m dying to see where her story goes.

Clementine_walking_dead

Like Jennifer Lopez once sang – “I’m Real””

All that remains” is an incredibly powerful piece of story-telling and has set the tone for the rest of the season – it has also set the bar incredibly high!

9/10

 

 

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