Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Walking Dead: Season Two

During my recent review of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, I mentioned how I'm a huge fan of the classic point-and-click adventure titles. Though my main example during that review was Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, I also really enjoyed virtually anything from LucasArts. Whether it was Sam & Max Hit the Road, The Secret of Monkey Island or Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels, everything LucasArts released back in the day was literally perfect. Times changed though and the point-and-click adventure genre eventually went the way of the dinosaur. However, a select few developers still carry the torch for the genre, and leading that charge is Telltale Games. Though they've tackled various different franchises such as Jurassic Park, Sam & Max and Back to the Future, their most successful has been their take on The Walking Dead. Now the entirety of season two has finally been released on disc. But the question is, does it live up to season one?

Developed by Telltale Games and out now for Playstation 3, Playstation 4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC comes The Walking Dead: Season Two, which is essentially just like Season One, only better.  Based upon the ongoing comic book series The Walking Dead (and NOT the TV show), this season opens up right where Season One left off. The zombie apocalypse has been upon us for quite some time now, and its latest victim is Season One protagonist Lee Everett. You now take control of Clementine, the young girl Lee found hiding in a tree house near the start of Season One. With Lee gone and Clementine left on her own, she partners up with fellow survivors Omid and Christa. However, while Clementine meets some new friends along the way, Season Two introduces William Carver, the brutal, violent and volatile antagonist of this season. He's voiced by Michael Madsen. I mean, that alone tells you this dude is batshit crazy, right?

Gameplay basically remains the exact same as Season One, and by that I mean incredibly linear. It can be broken down into five categories; exploring, finding items, using items, talking with characters and Quick Time Events. As Clementine you'll find yourself venturing through many different locations, some infested with infected “Walkers”, while others are not. Objectives are pretty samey throughout the game too. Find the key for this door, use the key on the door, chat to the chap inside, rise and repeat. That's pretty much it. But hey, I'm sure if I was reviewing Sam & Max Hit the Road or Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, describing their game mechanics would make them sound pretty crap and linear. Just like those games, the true genius of this series comes into play through its story, characters and ultimately how much you can make the experience your own..

Point-and-click adventures are linear. That's a fact of life. Instead, like any good novel or film it's the story that pulls us in and ultimately makes it worthwhile. As a story Season Two offers up a roll-coaster of emotions. It has action, horror, love, revenge, violence, strong friendships and sad farewells, all from the perspective of a young girl who shouldn't have to know a world like this. Much like Season One, the story played out through Season Two is truly incredible, and pushes the stakes even higher as to what went down when you were in control of Lee during Season One. Also, the best part about the game is that, depending on what choices you made during Season One, the story here can be wildly varied. The Walking Dead is one of those very, very few series of games in which choices matter, and can often be the deciding factor between life and death. Choices made during Season One have massive repercussions here, just as what happens during Season Two will eventually impact what occurs in Season Three.

Overall The Walking Dead: Season Two is incredibly linear in terms of gameplay, but if you're looking for a story that will utterly captivate you from start to finish, this is your weekly dose of zombie action. It may not be as good as some of the point-and-click games of yesteryear, but Telltale Games are doing a better job at The Walking Dead franchise than the TV show of the same name.

The Walking Dead: Season Two bites down into an almost perfect 4/5.


Denis Murphy

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