The Walking Dead game season two delivers the sort of folksy nihilism normally reserved for Coen Brothers movies. It delivers harsh reminder after harsh reminder that the world can be bleak and nonsensical and that often there is no such thing as "the right thing." It will betray your expectations in a way few games ever will. It anticipates the best parts of your nature and punishes you for them. The Walking Dead game season two isn't just about your choices. It's about your emotions.
If this all sounds a bit heavy, buckle up, because the Walking Dead game's second season is shaping up to be a heavy one indeed. The first season delivered the apocalypse with a dash of tension here, a little action there, all served up on a bed of mystery. It was easy to eat up and effortless to digest. The Walking Dead season two is a much harsher meal. Behind the tough bitterness, though, something truly great is at work.
It felt good seeing Clementine again. She is, after all, the whole reason this game is here. Heck, she's the reason Telltale Games has exploded like it has. Last year, her magnetic presence was a powerful force. We cared about Clem. We felt for her. When she left us at the end of season one we had only a flicker of hope that things might be ok.
The Walking Dead season two snuffs out this hope almost immediately.
I won't divulge spoilers. Story is the strength of Walking Dead season two. But things get bad quickly and worse even faster. In signature form Telltale manages to make simple acts, like dropping a water bottle, feel terrifying. There is no gentle build to the tension. It comes on fast and stays heavy. All the while you just want Clem to be safe. And if she can't be safe you at least try to make her feel safe. And you will learn the hard truth early in the Walking Dead season two. The illusion of safety, the illusion of normal, is fraught with peril.
(Hug your dog.)
On the design side, the gameplay mechanics are basic and effective. Fans know there will not be much high-octane frenzy, but Telltale uses immersive point-and-click interactions to drive the action forward. You never feel like you're playing a game. You feel like you're telling a story. Gut instincts play a larger role than lightning reflexes. All told, Walking Dead season two will suck you in for about two hours.
Despite the serious tone, The Walking Dead season two is great fun and wonderfully addictive. If you were worried Walking Dead season one was a fluke and that season two would be absent the same magic let me assure you the magic is there. You will jump back into Clem's story with both feet. You will remember what makes this series so good.
I feel the real debate between those who like Walking Dead season two and those who don't will center around whether or not you feel like the Clem in season two is a natural extension of the Clem from season one. There are graphic, difficult moments that will unsettle you when you have to put Clem through them. There are even opportunities for her to be devious and cunning, traits that defy the moral compass she inherited from Lee.
Where I see her naiveté falling away others may see a heavy-handed plot forcing difficult decision for the sake of shock. I won't be surprised to see some fans soured by the stone cold turns Clem is forced to make in Walking Dead season two. But I like that Telltale is making me feel uncomfortable because it lets me know that I am connected to the story. That I still care about Clem.
Because if you don't care about Clem then the magic will be gone. For now, I'm eagerly awaiting Walking Dead Season Two -Episode Two: "A House Divided."
Obligatory Rating: 5/5