In case you were under the impression that season two of The Walking Dead game would be less brutal than season one, the prologue will recalibrate your expectations. The game kicks off by giving the characters a shimmer of hope and then stomping it out. The world is in shambles, the dead rise to feed on the living, and survivors are left to fight for the scraps. Welcome to hell.
If you played the original game and still have the app on your device, the choices you made are incorporated into the story of season two. If not, the game picks random choices for you. It starts with a “previously on” segment to get you caught up on the story. Although new players won’t have much trouble figuring out what’s going on, you really ought to play the first season before this one. For my money, it’s one of the best games on the App Store.
This time around you play as Clementine, the girl from the first game. Winter is closing in, and the goal is the same as always: to survive at all costs. The game starts out at a gradual pace, with you doing mundane things like using a public restroom and tending to a campfire. But this is The Walking Dead, so you never know when a zombie will pop out or a group of apocalypse-hardened humans will show up to take your possessions or worse.
Once again, much of the game is hands-off storytelling. Breaks in the story have you exploring small areas, checking items, navigating conversation threads, and making tough choices. Action sequences play out the same way as before, with quick-time events that have you tap or swipe the screen on command. The game is a little choppy even on the newest devices, so occasionally your inputs might not register. Even if you fail a quick-time event, you’re never sent back far.
The acting is good overall, but some characters sound better than others. The cell-shaded graphics are gorgeous, but the occasional choppiness is a bummer. None of these issues really detract from the experience. The bleak atmosphere the game creates goes a long way toward ironing over any drawbacks. It may be too bleak for some people who don’t want to wallow in darkness, but the game offers enough hope to make me want to keep following it.
No matter how much of a downer the game is, and whatever its minor deficiencies, the story and characters are more than enough to keep most gamers locked in. Even if you didn’t play the original– which you absolutely should– it’s easy to grasp what’s going on. This is a simple story of survival, and it’s well told. Rarely do games even attempt storytelling on this level, let alone succeed. Despite the game’s utter bleakness, it’s great to be back in the world of The Walking Dead. I can’t wait for Episode 2.