It’s been a little over a year since the conclusion of Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season One. Having followed the company since 2008, The Walking Dead has certainly earned the studio much more attention, and with that even more accolades. Numerous outlets awarded the series their Game of the Year awards, and it even went on to earn a BAFTA. The success of the series has dictated a style change for the company; now pursuing choice driven, interactive narratives, in place of point and click adventure games. This change seems to be leading to even larger opportunities for the studio. But just in time for the holiday’s, Telltale Game’s returns to The Walking Dead, to see what Clementine has been up to, since the emotionally draining finale to Season One.
In keeping with the previous season, Episode One is out to remind the player that this is a series that drags it’s characters from bad, into worse. This season puts the player in the shoes of Clementine, who through events in the previous season, now is left to fend for herself. Luckily, much of the first season was spent preparing her for such situation. Episode One – All That Remains takes place a little over 16 months after the conclusion of the first season, and in that time Clementine has put those lessons to use. She’s grown up a lot in that passage of time, which allows for some interesting choices within her dialogue. I played from the perspective of a Clementine that behaved similarly to Lee, choosing to believe that their time together made a lasting impact. However, I would occasionally deviate as well, allowing her to make her own choices (so to speak). Lee’s influence add’s a layer to the game that didn’t previously exist before, due to us getting to know, and definie his character as we played. Going in, playing as a character we’ve already seen experience a series of trauma brings some fresh additions to the dialogue choice mechanic.
The presentation has some subtle improvements as well. The quick time events have much more visible UI elements in this season, and the options for choice have been seperated into more identifiable boxes, rather than a stack of text. Much of this is the same from The Wolf Among Us, which makes sense, as the two are being developed concurrently. However, a new addition to the mix comes with contextual actions, which introduce actions blended with mouse movement, to great effect. Additionally certain graphical quirks with the previous season have been addressed, specifically the outlines occasionally hovering over where the model ends. Telltale’s company growth has lead to much more nuanced animation as well, with even more attention placed in subtle eye movements. The whole episode just holds the illusion together impressively. There is some interesting mission design as well, one of which specifically presents a multitude of outcomes depending on how you approach it.
The episode sets up the season quite nicely. It leaves some interesting threads, that the series appears eager to pull on. Unlike the television show, Telltale has established a work where virtually everyone is constantly at risk. This episode serves as a reminder to that fact, in some delightfully heartbreaking ways. The switch in protagonist works very well, and adds a new layer to the story, that manages to build upon the legacy of the series, while providing exciting new directions for it to head in. I’m equally dreading, and looking forward to seeing the places it will go.