Telltale Games The Walking Dead Season 2 – People Are The Worst
The Walking Dead has grown in ubiquity over the past few years, growing from cult underground comic, to huge TV hit, to indie game success. Whatever incarnation, though, The Walking Dead could easily be subtitled – People are The Worst. The zombie apocalypse is merely the backdrop for people to be awful to each other, which is part of the appeal, it makes one think “what would I do?” Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead Season 2 let’s the player find out exactly what that would be.
The threat of impending doom keeps tension high, boxes characters in and provides the odd scare but it’s the interactions between living people that drives the narrative in The Walking Dead. In Season 2, which picks up a little after the events of their first season, you play as Clementine, the little girl you had to take care of in Season 1, who’s not so little anymore and forced to grow up in a worsening world.
Clementine has joined a new group and they meet other survivors and it quickly becomes clear that good people aren’t long for their world. They get hunted down and incarcerated by a group headed by Bill Carver (voiced by Michael Madsen) and make a break for it when their compound is overrun by a zombie hoard. People die, you even have to kill some people, but it’s the constant direness that makes the bright moments in the game (like the birth of a baby or a reunion with an old friend from Season 1) even sweeter.
In the same way the few bright moments are contrasted with overwhelming grimness, the gameplay’s restrictive point-and-click type mechanic has been, in the past, contrasted with moments of incredible freedom in the season climax (see Season 1 and The Wolf Among Us). The final episode of season 2 has a few moments like that but the stand out scene to me was a flashback, after Clementine was knocked out, to a conversation with Lee from Season 1 where you can see just how much Clementine has grown and changed. It’s a punch in the gut and that’s where Telltale really excels, in making their worlds achingly real.
Each time I play a Telltale game, I wonder if the restrictive control scheme will become an issue, but it never does because it doesn’t take long before I’m lost in the story. There are moments where I genuinely smile and the episode cliffhangers elicit real gasps. At the moment there’s no one telling stories in video games like Telltale and now they have franchises based on Borderlands and Game of Thrones and have just announced a new series based on Minecraft. If you haven’t played any of Telltale’s games yet, then what are you waiting for?