Note: If anyone was wondering where I’ve been the last two weeks (if you don’t follow me on Twitter), I was at the Develop conference in Brighton, so between meetings, award ceremonies, parties and after parties that didn’t leave a lot of time to write a post. Then last week… well it’s a long story, but I’m back now!
Or the good. Or anyone really. I recently finished Season 2 Episode 3 of Telltale’s massively popular zombie adventure game, which was based on the comic books of the same name. And you should probably know by now that there are few developers I trust as much as these guys to put out quality content every time. They definitely did not disappoint this time. Once again, please don’t read this until you’ve played the previous episodes, because there will be spoilers – huge ones!
My favourite part of this episode was definitely Clementine. Right from the start of the season it’s evident that she’s independent and capable, but this episode she was a real bad ass (if you choose to play her that way). I loved the subtle, but powerful character development of this episode and found myself becoming even more attached to her, if that’s possible. It’s many of the things that are left unsaid that are most affecting, like the way other characters trust her and the inevitable comparison between her and Sarah, who is in many ways the complete opposite of Clementine. Whereas Clementine is tough, independent and realistic, Sarah is young, naïve, idealistic and completely dependent on those around her. Of course, Sarah’s just a kid so in many ways behaviour is not abnormal (although she does seem unusually fragile), but it does seek to highlight just how much Clementine has grown since Lee found her at the beginning of Season 1.
I also like the fact that we’ve delved into a lot of the new characters as well, through increased focus on and dialogue with them. At this point, most of their back stories are still shrouded in mystery, which of course only serves to increase intrigue. However, from what I’ve gleaned so far from the characters and in true Telltale fashion it seems that everyone has something has something they’re protecting whether it’s themselves, another person or their secrets and everyone has their own goals, many of which clash. Telltale is a master at weaving rich tapestries and with this new crew, they’ve done very well. I don’t know how I feel about any of them, but I guess that’s really the point.
Another positive for me was the increase in dialogue and choices vs. action. There were few action sequences compared to the first two episodes of this season and none of them were particularly challenging. Conversely, Telltale added a few more of those introspective moments I was looking for. I felt the difficult choices kept things just as tense as fast-pace action and the urgent pace never fails. Others might have different opinions, but that’s how I feel. I think these less action-y bits are necessary to what is essentially interactive fiction. I think of course narrative does have to be balanced with gameplay, but The Walking Dead series has always been skewed towards the story and I think most fans are happy about that. It’s ultimately not so much about the zombies as about the characters, their relationships, what they’re forced to do and the real face of society at large.
In terms of criticisms, again, I didn’t particularly have any major ones. I do think the episode could have used more interaction – not necessarily action, but just generally with the environment to make it feel a bit more like a game. This time around it did really feel a bit like watching a movie.
Also, I have to say I’m not particularly fond of the new setting. It feels a bit samey – another community with a dictator in charge where the people are fearful, but have convinced themselves into staying because it’s safer. I think it’s a setting and scenario that’s been done to death, in the zombie genre in particular.
It seem there are others who like the new villain. I haven’t made up my mind yet. Personally, one of the things I loved about the first season was that there wasn’t really one distinct villain that everyone could rally against. Instead the group was being torn apart largely from the inside, which is a likely outcome during a time where for some people morals and traits like kindness and empathy go out the window in favour of survival. It makes you wonder how people would really react in a situation like that. Many of us like to think we’re good people, but what about when it really comes down to it? When it’s either you or them? Luckily, most of us will never have to make that decision, but I shudder to think what would happen. It was really about survival against the elements and an overwhelming unknown force and I thought that was a really interesting dynamic.
So I’m certainly not saying that I don’t like the new bad guy. He’s certainly intriguing from the little we really know and even more so from the things that are implied. But I hope at least that the lines remained blurred between good and evil and that perhaps things aren’t as clear cut as they might first appear.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the next episode furthers the story and the good thing is that I don’t even have to wait long – episode 4 is out this month. So you still have time to play episode 3 before the next one comes out. I don’t think you’ll regret it.