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The Walking Dead Season Two – “All That Remains” Review

The Walking Dead Season Two – “All That Remains” Review

You know a developer must be doing something right when they can spend a whole year cruelly tugging at your heartstrings, before slowly tearing the whole thing out altogether – and still have you coming back for more. And that is precisely the case with Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. After the conclusion of Season One left us all laying in the fetal position, sobbing and whimpering, Telltale tided us over with the short but sweet 400 Days DLC. Now the developer has finally released the first episode of Season Two of their critically acclaimed point-and-click adventure series, based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series. Titled All That Remains, does this new installment live up to the lofty expectations left by its predecessor?

The Walking Dead Season Two: All That Remains takes place 16 months after the heart-breaking conclusion of Season One. Unlike most games involving a zombie apocalypse, your greatest enemy is not the horde of walkers, but rather other survivors. Killing the undead takes a backseat as you bear witness to man’s inhumanity when all social constructs come crashing down. This time, we take control of Clementine, the young girl we saved as Lee in the very first episode, as she continues to survive the ongoing zombie apocalypse.

The shift in perspective is felt almost immediately, as you find yourself powerless in situations that Lee could have gotten himself out of mostly unscathed. Your status as a child is emphasized even further by the lowered height of the in-game camera from the ground, and the low-angle shots as adults and zombies tower over you. But that is not to say that Clementine is incapable. In fact, she is anything but. She can be manipulative when she wants to, and her small stature allows her to be more nimble when fleeing zombies and humans alike. Clem even has a slightly vindictive side, should the player choose to bring it out.

Season Two’s gameplay is similar to that of Season One, but it also borrows elements from Telltale’s more recent title, The Wolf Among Us, as well as the immersive button presses from Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain – though not quite as complex. For example, during the quick-time event chase sequences, you must use the WASD keys to avoid obstacles such as set pieces and zombies. Another scene requires you to light a piece of paper using a lighter by pressing and holding the left mouse button to keep the lighter lit, and either move the mouse or use WASD to move the lighter towards the paper.

The core gameplay mechanic revolves around making tough choices. Just like in Season One, characters will remember the decisions you make, and react differently depending on how you choose to respond during dialogue. What is unique about The Walking Dead’s moral choice system is that there are no “good” or “evil” decisions. All the choices given to you are equally viable, each with their own pros and cons. This requires you to use your best judgement, such as choosing which of two people to save. The decisions made in Season One appear to have little to no effect on Season Two’s story thus far – the same goes for the 400 Days DLC. There are references to events of Season One, but none of these are to the choices you made. However, as All That Remains is only the first episode, I am willing to overlook this.

There are two major gripes I have with All That Remains. First, there are a few moments that, no matter what choice you make, will result in the same outcome. Second, there is one scene where you are given the option to eavesdrop on a conversation through a door. A red haze starts to slowly come over the screen, indicating that you are getting closer and closer to being discovered. However, I chose to ignore it and kept eavesdropping, whereupon one of the characters in the room glanced towards the door, causing Clementine to immediately back away. If you do this repeatedly, the option to eavesdrop disappears altogether. This significantly lowered the sense of danger, and it makes me wonder what other situations there were in which I was never in any real jeopardy.

Telltale’s trademark comic book art style is still present in All That Remains, with little difference from Season One. However, the user interface has been given an upgrade. The cursor is more like that of The Wolf Among Us, and dialogue choices now appear in large boxes that cover parts of the screen. I suppose this makes them easier to read than the smaller list in Season One, but it does block a lot of the visuals. A few of Season One’s graphical glitches also crop up in All That Remains, such as the occasional slowdown and character models stuttering.

The voice acting in All That Remains is top-notch, as always, and the soundtrack fits perfectly with the theme of the game and provides a subtle ambience. Also, you might remember the end credits of Season One Episode Five, and the sad song they played to rub salt into the wounds from the ending. Well, this episode’s end credits also have such a song.

All That Remains is an excellent start to the new season of The Walking Dead. It retains everything that made the first season great, and the updated control scheme greatly raises the immersion. This is a must-buy for fans of the first season, and of story-driven games in general. Just be sure to have some tissues on hand.

Overall Score 9.5/10

 

Second Opinion – Jason Bakker

 

Syed’s thoughts echo my own almost perfectly. The Walking Dead – Season Two: All That Remains is a fantastic start to a promising new season. As we all know, the first season of The Walking Dead won countless Game Of The Year awards and pushed Telltale into the spotlight, and all eyes have been on the developer as fans eagerly anticipated the continuation of Clementine’s narrative. There was surely a hell of a lot of pressure on the team to deliver, and I have to say that All That Remains satisfied me on every level, even just a few months after I was blown away by their work on the first episode of The Wolf Among Us.

 

The story is as grim as before, with Clementine on her own for some portions of All That Remains. Without Lee to protect her, zombies and other dangers feel ten times as scary as before, and as Syed noted her smaller stature both adds to the tension and gives a greater sense of mobility.

 

Telltale once again expertly plays with gamers’ emotions, packing in plenty of dramatic twists and turns and impossible choices to make. Without spoiling anything, a dog named Sam is introduced in All That Remains, and my emotions toward him swayed wildly within only a few minutes. I was happy that Telltale didn’t shy away from violent situations just because they were dealing with a child protagonist this time around.

 

Graphically, All That Remains looked great during my playthrough on the Steam PC version. Everything looked noticeably sharper and more detailed than it did with the previous season, but that is possibly because I played Season One on PlayStation 3. The new UI changes reminded me of The Wolf Among Us, and the contextual actions felt more intuitive than before.

 

Here’s hoping that Telltale can keep this momentum going throughout the rest of Season Two. With The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, and a new Borderlands title on the way, they’ve surely got a lot on their plate.

Overall Score 9.5/10

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