Telltale Game’s made themselves a household name in 2012 with the release and unanimous praise of The Walking Dead: Season One. The game’s gripping narrative, intuitive control scheme and downright unforgettable characters all came together into a game that truly captured the pain and emotion involved with struggling to survive when all hope seems lost.
This year, Telltale is back with The Walking Dead: Season Two, the studio recently released the first episode of their new season ‘All That Remains’ – which, in many ways, feels like the only right way to continue the story after the heart wrenching events of the first season.
All That Remains is quick to remind players just how bleak The Walking Dead’s world is. Players assume the role of Clementine, one of last season’s protagonists, as she continues down the road toward survival without her mentor and father-figure, Lee. From its outset, All That Remains, asks the player to carry this emotional weight.
Within All That Remains’ first minutes, any sense of happiness the player feels by seeing familiar faces from the first season is thrown by the way side. Similarly to Robert Kirkman’s source material and AMC’s television show by extension, All That Remains is quick to remind players that nothing stays the same forever.
After All That Remains’ prologue section finishes, the story picks up sixteen months after season one. Clementine has changed in the time that has passed – she has, as Lee taught her, learned how to survive to the best of her ability.
Clementine’s outward changes represent what seems to be the overall direction that Telltale Games will take The Walking Dead: Season Two. While a lot banks on an emotional connection between the player and Clementine’s story, All That Remains – and Clementine’s new outward look and maturation – serve as a reminder that adaptation is the key to survival.
All That Remains, for all intents and purposes, is an ideal opening to a second season. The episode moves at a break-neck pace as players guide Clementine across the dangerous Southern landscape.
Many aspects of The Walking Dead’s first season remain in All That Remains. Clementine controls largely the same as Lee in the first season, allowing for exploration and investigation of the game’s environments in an intuitive way.
Throughout the episode, Clementine is never far from danger. As it always seems to be in The Walking Dead, danger is always around the next bend. Even in brief moments of solace, All That Remains layers thick tension – thanks largely to the game’s excellent ambient noises and soundtrack – that ushers the player into a constant state of cautiousness.
While delving too much into the plot of All That Remains would be a serious disservice to those who have not yet experienced the episode, suffice to say that the momentum builds and never lets up. Clementine finds herself in dire straits, and eventually thrown into the wary arms of a group of survivors.
Injured, desperate and without a choice, Clementine finds herself on the outside looking in, having to rely on only herself for ensure survival. Once more, Clementine’s burgeoning maturity is shown, as her self-dependence is displayed as her greatest asset.
All That Remains is filled with The Walking Dead’s beloved conversational choices allowing for numerous outcomes within a single scene. Once again, Telltale Games deserves serious praise for their masterful writing. Each conversation within All That Remains feels natural and exudes much-needed ambiguity during relevant moments. The game’s dialogue ties together perfectly with the narrative set-up of All That Remains, making it clear that every interaction will have meaningful consequences.
Aside from tough dialogue choices, All That Remains does not shy away from tough action-based choices. Numerous times throughout the episode, Clementine is forced to take actions that a girl her age would normally run away from at the mere mention of. Clementine, however, has become hardened by the harsh realities of the world, and knows better than to shy away from conflict when survival is at risk. All That Remains has more than one moment that may make those of weaker constitutions feel the need to avert their eyes. The world of The Walking Dead is anything but a peaceful one.
Visually, All That Remains is perfectly stylized. Similar to Kirkman’s graphic novel, Telltales hand drawn aesthetics capture the essence of the game’s source material. All That Remains looks undeniably stunning. The game’s textures look lovely and environments feel fully fleshed out. Similarly, each character model looks natural, specifically when examining their facial expressions.
Without such a level to expressive detail, The Walking Dead’s pitch-perfect drama would fall short. Thankfully, in All That Remains, Telltale once again illustrates why they are the masters of the interactive game.
There is not much fault to be found in All That Remains. It seems that The Walking Dead: Season Two is quickly proving that it is a tremendous follow-up to the success of the first season. Perhaps the biggest flaw to be found in All That Remains is that it leaves many questions unanswered – forcing the legions who will surely play the episode to anxiously claw at Telltale’s doors, much like the zombies they try their hardest to avoid, as they pine for episode two.
*Reviewer Statement: The Author recieved a digital copy of The Walking Dead: Season Two for the purpose of reviewing the title on the PC.[#ff entbuddha] “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”