Review: The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 1 - "All That Remains"

By Frank Hartnett on January 8th, 2014 (7 comments)

og:image, The Walking Dead Season 2, All That Remains

In 2012, Telltale Games released a game that would become one of the most beloved titles of this generation. Telltale surprised most of the gaming industry with their dark, emotional, and character driven take on the zombie apocalypse based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman. The first episode left many intrigued by the setting, but each subsequent episode blew audiences away with media outlets gladly handing Telltale awards by the truckload. With the resounding success of The Walking Dead, a sequel was sure to follow and, at last, it is in gamers' hands. Can The Walking Dead Season 2 live up to the expectations set by its ground breaking predecessor?

Season 2 properly starts 18 months after the events of Season 1 with a desperate Clementine forced to fend for herself. There was some concern as to how Season 2 would fair with a child protagonist, but most of the core elements still remain true. If anything, using a child protagonist is actually to the game's benefit as there are several situations throughout the episode that would be far easier if Clementine was simply an adult. This isn't used by Telltale as some arbitrary method of dumbing down the game or adding difficulty. Playing as Clementine is meant to invoke memories of Season 1. The game never wants the player to forget that first group and how much safer Clementine used to be.

Visually, the game still takes after the first season and retains its “comic book” style. The gameplay also remains largely the same with the exception of the interaction controls now becoming similar to The Wolf Among Us.Thankfully, Clementine did not inherit Lee's insistence of pointing out what an object is once the player selects it for interaction. Typically, when prompted to “look at object x”, Clementine will briefly examine the object and then determine if it is significant to her survival. As per any Telltale title, the voice acting is very well done. In particular, Melissa Hutchinson continues her fantastic performance as a Clementine who has definitely matured between seasons.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 Screen Shot

I wish I could say this episode was perfect, I really do. Unfortunately, Telltale's first episode into Season 2 does suffer from many glaring flaws in the most important category: writing. Simply put, the writing for this episode seems like a downgrade even from the first episode of last season. Several characters in the episode make idiotic or illogical decisions when they really should know better; especially after living in the apocalypse for approximately two years. The first hour of the episode, in particular, is filled with moments that made me facepalm every two minutes. I can see what the writers were trying to do, but their ideas are so poorly executed that it's almost as if this wasn't developed by Telltale. The hour of poorly executed scenes are made even worse by the fact “All That Remains” clocks in at only 90 minutes.

I can say there is one scene near the end of the episode that is fantastically executed in every aspect. Even now that one scene is playing over and over in my mind and will, probably, be the one stand-out scene many gamers remember from this episode. The final choice is also quite well done if players are able to fully grasp the situation and the many facets surrounding it. The finale could have been better; however, if the episode had just been as long as any previous episode. At least then, more time could have been given to the new characters that appear. As it stands, the new additions to the series are barely memorable and the finale fails to be a satisfying conclusion as a result.

Sadly, Telltale's follow up to their critically acclaimed The Walking Dead is off to a rocky start. Telltale may have improved upon the series technically, but the writing seems to have really suffered as a result. If there are only two good scenes in a story driven game, then there are definitely issues that need to be worked out. Perhaps Telltale has spread itself too thin with the multitude of projects they now have in development. Perhaps Telltale is just seeing dollar signs and trying to cash in on their most successful franchise. Whatever the reason may be, it is difficult to recommend a 90 minute episode that pales in comparison to anything from Season 1. If you haven't picked up The Walking Dead: Season 2 yet, my recommendation is to wait. I sincerely hope Telltale can improve with the next episode and that “All That Remains” just becomes a bump in the road.

Final Score: 6/10

Tags: The Walking Dead, Telltale Games, clementine, season 2, all that remains

Frank Hartnett

Frank (Seisan) is a blog contributor and chat moderator over at 4Player. He specializes in analyzing the story telling, immersion, and consistency aspects of video games and also enjoys writing Fiction in his spare time. His favorite genres are RPGs, MMOs, and RTS'. Frank also specializes in having a chat name no one can pronounce correctly; nicknamed Seesaw as a result.
https://twitter.com/Seisan9

Comment!
  • Mcstrokeable 7 months, 2 weeks ago

    After playing and beating the first chapter. I wish I could understand your review better. You bring up a lot of stuff that I can't argue. Like the good voice acting, why they used clem as the main, and that not enough time was given to these characters. But, I can't understand why you think the writing is bad? I feel the only stupid and illogical decisions were made in the 'prologue' to the story. I guess what my main point is, is that in you trying not to spoil the game it has become confusing to understand exactly what part of the game you think is bad. Granted my 2 cents mean nothing because you could say because I played it first, I am biased to your view. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to say this. Oh and just to be clear I think this is a good review, I was just getting confused as to the parts of the game that are illogical.

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    • Frank Hartnett 7 months, 2 weeks ago

      I really wish I could have gone into more detail, but putting spoilers into a review wouldn't really be appropriate. All I can really recommend is to replay the episode and see if you notice anything that I mentioned.

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  • DrGonzo2 7 months, 2 weeks ago

    Considering how I felt the writing in the previous season was really predictable, I don't know if I'll like this season either if it keeps this up.

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  • Jager 7 months, 2 weeks ago

    I was hesitant to get into season two so soon as I didn't play season one until all the episodes were released. I'm glad I did though, some great moments in this episode. The kind of thing that has you on the edge of your seat. I do agree with the writing though. Some of the choices the characters make at times is just idiotic. Then again, this happens a lot in The Walking Dead and I've been pointing it out ever since the first series of the TV show. (Zombie stuck in the water well anyone?) Can't wait for the next episode, hoping Telltale get on a decent schedule for releasing them. (Unlike The Wolf Among Us) Nice review Frank!

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  • Nick Henderson 7 months, 1 week ago

    Just finished Episode 1 myself. I enjoyed it but not as much as some of the best episodes of Season 1. With that said, I think it's a pretty strong start for the season. I have a few issues that I'll bring up in the first regular podcast of the year.

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    • Frank Hartnett 7 months, 1 week ago

      You would, Nick. You would....

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  • LWD3 6 months, 2 weeks ago

    I couldn't agree with this more. There were almost no difficult decisions in this first episode, whereas I was torn on almost all of the decisions that were asked of you in the first installment of the game. In such a story-driven, choice based system as this, when you get to the end and it shows how all the players have made their decisions and all of them are 80% toward one decision it represents an overall failure to me.

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