It has been over a year since the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead concluded, and it was an incredible way to send off 2012. Due to its massive success, there was no doubt that Telltale would continue making new stories in the widespread universe. While we received the half-hearted bridge between the seasons a few months ago, Clementine’s journey takes centerfold in a full-fledged journey stacked with isolation and drama.
The first thing to note is that the second season has the ability to pull a save file from the first game and use it as an outline. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to make a meaningful impact as there is maybe one or two mentions of significance that Lee taught Clementine. Not only that, but when expressing your past with others, you can straight up tell the complete opposite of what happened in the story. Players who picked up 400 Days expecting a connection will also be disappointed to find out that none of the characters make an appearance. There’s a better than average chance this will change in a future installment, but don’t expect the content from the recently released DLC, or from the first season for that matter, to mean much in the first episode.
The first season had a strong protagonist in Lee who knew how to handle himself in difficult situations. For better or for worse, this role has been handed down to the easily influenced Clementine who is around two years older and a little more durable than she once was. She isn’t necessarily the fragile little angel from what we’re used to, but at the same time, she’s far from a hardened individual. She still is a scared little girl, but her attitude based on the various choices the player is given can be direct and rather threatening. Even her undertone during a scene with a pregnant woman can be a bit devious, something that seems a little out of place for the innocent Clementine. It doesn’t feel like Lee’s influence mattered at all, but instead the player has complete control over her demeanor.
Unfortunately, this is also a rather short experience. While Telltale has touted around two hours, I was able to complete ‘All That Remains’ in just under an hour and a half. It doesn’t help that the story itself isn’t particularly great. There was one rather shocking moment that will catch anyone off guard, but other than that, the pacing is a little off. One moment you’re fending for your life, the next you’re sneaking around a house trying not to get caught. Like the past episodes, choices are supposed to play a significant aspect to progress throughout the story. As the first of five, you won’t see the fruition of anything just yet, but the problem is that the choices are black and white; you either piss someone off or befriend them. That’s where the silent approach comes in, creating a slightly more gray area, but at that point, you’re creating a mute and halting much character progression. Telltale deserves some credit, though, as they did a good job creating a situation later in the episode that explored Clementine’s ability to survive under pressure and distress.
As you would expect from an adventure game, there isn’t a whole lot of action or precise controls to be found. The game is broken into various segments that involve scavenging, putting two-and-two together in simple puzzles, and quicktime events. Unfortunately, the story takes the backseat a little bit to these mechanics as players will be mashing “Q” and looking through drawers and raided campsites more than they will be interacting with others. This is a disappointment as even the first episode of the first season saw Lee interacting with three different groups of people, whereas here there’s a dog and a house-full of survivors that don’t offer much up.
The interface has changed somewhat dramatically as the choices are now displayed in massive squares on the bottom. This is a big departure from the previous game as it no longer allows you to use the keyboard to make selections, which would have come in handy throughout the first episode when the mouse magically disappeared a couple times. Movement during quicktime events has been stylized a bit more and mainly involves evading right and left through hordes of enemy walkers. The adventure-esque gameplay has also been slightly modified with a newly designed interact and view interface, but I found it a bit too precise at times which caused some frustration when trying to interact with an object. As an adventure game, this is pretty straightforward and does nothing to change the formula. In fact, because of the lackluster scenes and choices, this feels like a step down from what we’ve come to expect from the series.
While there’s an intriguing setup here, ‘All That Remains’ starts the new season off slowly and fails to deliver a sensible and concrete outlook at the future. There are notably fewer meaningful choices to be found and the action scenes are without much suspense as Clementine is far too susceptible to be grabbed by a walker. The story is too loose and doesn’t display a proper direction just yet. It’s not all bad as there is a rather striking moment halfway through the story, but if this is truly all that remains, then we’re in for a rough season.
Version Reviewed: PC