Developers: Telltale Games
Publishers: Telltale Games
Plot: The surviving members of the group are running out of options, forced to take a huge risk and aware that the group is crumbling from the inside.
When reviewing a Walking Dead Game, you have to separate it from any other game review you might write. Telltale Games throw away the generic layout of a game and offer a more story-based experience. Sure, there is nowhere near enough action to keep the average gamer entertained, but if you are patient, you will find a rewarding finish to this series. Like the difference between a movie and a TV show, you need to adjust your expectations.
For example, many gamers would be tearing their hair out during the first hour of gameplay. After a good introduction, we are treated to a slow opening, as the characters lick their wounds and reflect on their journeys throughout the five episode run of Season Two. It moves along at a snail’s pace and you would be forgiven for being frustrated with the lack of tension and horror. Admittedly, I was not in the right frame of mind to play this game, squeezing this in between a shift at work and a trip to the cinema. However, I still understood that this slower moment to the game was to be relished, rather than rushed through. One of the characters reveals that it is their birthday and we are given a relaxing happy moment before the finale kicks in. The one mission you need to get through is convincing every member of the group to actually take part in this warm moment, failure resulting in the guilt that someone has missed out on this important scene. It is filled with a witty script, some of the humour working excellently (one thing that the game easily does better than the show). Student loans are brought up and when Clementine struggles to get her mind wrapped around the concept of sex, we totally forget that we are playing a horror adventure game and are happy to just spend some quality time with these characters that Telltale Games have expertly built up (it helps that the useless ones have been whittled out by this point).
Then the bad things start happening. Some of the shocks you can see coming a mile away and the sad inevitability of some of the story developments are heart-breaking. However, the other shocks are a work of genius by the writers, events spiralling out of control in a totally unpredictable way. There is one choice that is clear throughout the game and one you are preparing yourself to make from the very start of the episode. In fact, you might have found yourself subconsciously making that choice from the very start of Season Two. I won’t mention the choice, but it becomes apparently clear as you begin playing. You begin to rationalise what your decision will be, adding up the little pros and cons, whenever the game gives you a slow moment to mull things over. However, Telltale Games know you will do this, so whenever they can, they throw a spanner into the works, totally changing the boundaries of the choice. No matter how prepared you think you are, when the moment to choose does come, you are in no way ready to commit. That choice acts as the true finale to Season Two and the moment you have made that choice (tapping that button will be the most tense and heart-breaking thing you have ever done in a video game), the emotion we have come to associate with Telltale Games comes flooding back in. There are two endings and each one is excellently written and paced.
There are little things that are still holding me back from giving this episode full marks. My biggest problem is essentially a continuation of my complaint of last episode’s review. There isn’t quite enough going on in this finale. While the very ending is shocking, Season One had this great build-up to their climax, which had the tension ramped right up to the max. Season Two still feels like, until the very end, Clementine just trying to survive. There is no villain (well, arguments could be made that one of your group is the true bad guy here), so we are still avoiding Walkers, rather than anything else. While some of the shocks are good, we are still going set-piece to set-piece. The first major death feels a little anti-climactic, which is a shame because we lose one of the better characters. It feels sudden and while that has worked well in the past (Carley, Omid), here it feels like a waste of emotional resonance. However, despite this one flaw, this is a decent finale and while the entire season does suffer from sequel syndrome, I haven’t lost faith that Telltale Games are still one of the more interesting story-makers out there right now.
Final Verdict: A surprising and astonishing finale for the second season of Walking Dead. The final choice will break many a gamer.