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Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 2 (Episode 1: All That Remains) PC Review - 9.5/10

Seems like Tell Tale is on a roll. With two new games just released (The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead Season 2) as well as two new projects on the way, seems like they've just been running downhill catching speed and it doesn't look like they'll stop anytime soon, nor would I want them to considering they've been making some really excellent games.
I actually just finished the first game like an hour ago (got stuck on the part with Lily and the train which pissed me off to no end) just so I could have the full experience.

The Good:
Game looks great. Real step up in the graphics department while still looking similar to the first game... though that may have something to do with the fact I just about always lower the settings for my games. Still, looks pretty sleek.
The sound is actually really good. Simple cues like twigs snapping and thuds come back like in the first game nicely. The key here is that just about everything the first game was has been upgraded in some way. It really adds to the atmosphere.
The tone is the same except a bit more darker since its a small child instead of a grown adult. Simple actions like leafing through Clementine's backpack for some things we saw in the first game really give a sense of progression as well as seeing how things tie together on both a sensible and emotional level like how even though she's a bit older she still carries around one of her drawings as well as a torn picture of Lee.
So far the writing is fairly good. At least up to par with what I'd expect from Tell Tale. However, I can't fully see it considering this is only one episode. Though from what I've seen it seems to be just as good, if not better, than the first game. The game likes to play with your emotions a bit by having genuinely nice moments and then they go completely dark. Like how I found a dog in the woods who I warmed up to, but as soon as I fed him, he went crazy, bit me and eventually I had a heartbreaking moment where I put him out of his misery in the wake of his former family's campsite. Lets be clear, I don't like this. I simply see it as amazingly capturing the atmosphere through simple actions and cues by toying with my emotions. Again, I don't like this, but it works so I will endure.
The gameplay also tailors itself around Clementine's age as well as height. Things Lee would have easily been able to reach are out of Clementines, making solutions feel a bit more unique as to compensate for how small she is. Its a nice touch to say the least.

The Bad:
If there's one thing I don't like about the Walking Dead universe (games, comics, television shows) its that it easily slips back into killing off good or at least nice characters. At times it makes me feel like my actions really don't matter (like with the first game's 3rd episode where a person I liked gets killed by a person I was beginning to hate). Without going into spoilers, the same thing happens within the first few minutes. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to keep someone alive only to see them dead in a few scenes. I understand that characters usually have to die, but so frequently is just frustrating.
I can't tell if I don't like the new interface or not. In the first game, it was a bit easier. You hovered over something and you could use numbers to switch between what you would choose for a certain thing should there be any options. In this one, that interface has been upgraded so that hovering has multiple options but its harder to use. A bigger circle will appear over an item and you can slightly move the mouse over options to select them. Problem is that your accuracy is dependent on how how steady you hold the mouse making for tense quick time situations and some times tedious regular settings. Basically, selecting something as simple as looking versus picking up a can, can take twice as much time as previous. I haven't found a way around this since I only played for a bit so I can't really say I hate it. I can say its perturbing at the least. The same goes for dialogue. Instead of the list view, you know have four boxes that take up a good portion of the bottom of the screen that are lined up two by two beside each other. The wait meter (which determines whether or not you'd like to let time run on the conversation or simply how much more time you have to answer) is almost completely overshadowed by the new boxes at the bottom and you'll only realize how little time you have left until its too late. All in all, its manageable.

The Meh:
I would really like to know the time stamp on this. At the very least how much time has passed since Clem was with Lee. From what I can tell, she is at least 10 years old since the game only tells you after a certain period that it has been sixteen months from a previous period. The previous period however told me nothing so I can only presume it was around a year seeing as how one of the characters who was previously not, is pregnant by at least 8 months. Minor gripes but it would really help in the immersion department for previous fans/players.

While I have minor gripes, this is a very good game. Its mature in its content and not just in violence, it doesn't hold the player's hand and it ties a few of the missing threads in between games. Again, I can't fully rate this game because its just about 1/5 of the completed game. Its a good introduction of what is to come and a nice return of a game I felt was amazing.

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