After a three month break designed to let our minds digest the events of the first episode of Telltale’s second season of The Walking Dead, it’s time to step into the small shoes of Clementine once again. As is customary for the series, we last left the pint-sized heroine after making a difficult decision between two characters, and this latest instalment begins with the aftermath of that choice, as she heads back to the merry band of survivors that she currently calls family.
This episode is quite a bit longer than the series premiere, and deservedly so. In the three or so hours that it takes to complete, you’ll meet some friendly faces, some not-so-friendly, and perhaps even one or two familiar ones. You’ll also get to interact with the group of characters from Episode 1, who are fleshed out a little more. If the previous season taught us anything, it’s that learning about the cast will inevitably take you down a dark path, so we suspect plenty of pain lies ahead.
Unsurprisingly, the gameplay remains much the same, which is in no way a bad thing. There are the usual QTE events to keep you on your toes, but you’ll spend the majority of your time interacting with various characters. In fact, there’s an enormous amount of dialogue in this outing, but it’s all excellently written and exceptionally performed. In particular, there’s a reunion of sorts that occurs about half way through which is handled expertly.
Perhaps even more interestingly, the episode also begins to hint at the fruits of your labours from the 400 Days expansion from many months ago, although it appears to be just a taste at this stage. Elsewhere, you’re properly introduced to the oft spoken of – but never seen – Carver, which is one of the highlights of the entire instalment. Naturally, for the sake of spoilers, we’ll leave it at that so that you can experience the moment for yourself.
For as strong as the narrative is, though, there are still some technical hiccups. None of these are particularly game breaking – and should be expected at this point – but contending with severe framerate drops is a problem. It does feel a teensy bit smoother than the first episode, but the improvement is negligible at best.
Even more painful are the decisions that you’ll need to make throughout the escapade, with one in particular prompting you to pick which table you want to eat at. It’s a tougher challenge than you may imagine. Furthermore, the overall pacing of the episode is much better than the first one, with the pre-laid foundations allowing the developer to drive the narrative in a more firm direction than its predecessor. Elsewhere, Jared Emerson Johnson’s outstanding score adds excellently to the overall atmosphere.
While it’s still riddled with technical issues on occasion, very rarely does game writing soar this high. This may well be one of the best episodes of any game that Telltale has put out to date, and is certainly the highest point of The Walking Dead series since Episode 3 of Season 1. With three more instalments left to go, this season has nowhere to venture but up.