The Walking Dead: Season 2 is an episodic adventure game for the PlayStation 3 (also on PC, Xbox 360, iOS, PS Vita and Ouya). “All That Remains” is the season premier for The Walking Dead: Season 2. “All That Remains” picks up after the events of The Walking Dead: Season 1. It begins the second season of TellTale Games’ adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic book. “All That Remains” is an interesting case because it is following up a highly regarded first season that ended in a hugely precarious plot point. The episode has to re-establish the world and assert why people should care about the new protagonist, all while introducing new characters and a compelling plot/conflict. It is a difficult task that “All That Remains” pulls off with few hitches.
Around 2 years have passed since Clementine last saw Lee. After finding Omid and Christa, they travel together, but it doesn’t last. Due to harrowing events at a rest stop, everything changes. Clementine knows that the walkers aren’t the biggest threat out there – other survivors are more dangerous than the shambling corpses. After a scuffle with a group of survivors, Clementine is separated from the last friend she had. Now she is on her own. All that remains for Clementine is a tough world that she has to survive in with only her wits and what Lee taught her.
In an unfamiliar area, hungry and alone, she must avoid any further threats while finding something to eat. In a weird twist, she ends up with a dog as a companion. Sadly, the union doesn’t last long because even the loyalest of animals will fight for survival in a world where food is a luxury. After finding some food, the dog goes crazy and attacks Clementine. Injured and starved, she tries to find a new place to procure food, but she doesn’t get far before getting trapped by walkers. Luckily, a pair of hunters discover and save her from becoming food. Unfortunately, they discover the bite and now Clementine must fight to convince a new group of survivors that she wasn’t bitten by a walker while trying to fix up her arm.
“All That Remains” has a difficult job of selling Clementine as a protagonist while introducing her to a new conflict and new survivors to play against. Selling Clementine as a protagonist is not difficult because she was so well developed in Season One, but there is always the risk of her interactions with other people lacking the nuance that Lee had because she is a child. Luckily that is not the case. While she doesn’t have much to hide, Clementine’s interactions with other survivors is just as satisfying. What Clementine can get away with more so than Lee is being a jerk. Her age works to her advantage because she can slide with being passive aggressive or forthrightly cutting. It makes for a different play style.
The episode also does a great job of introducing a new set of survivors and their group dynamics in a succinct way. This new group comes loaded with plenty of interpersonal struggles to exploit and capitalize upon. The biggest issue with the episode is the ending. While it ends on a crazy moment, it is a bit underwhelming and fizzles out without setting up a meaningful problem to deal with in the next episode. That is not to say the episode doesn’t set up conflicts and pressing concerns, but the cliffhanger leaves something to be desired.
If you have played a recent game from TellTale, you should be familiar with the gameplay style. “All That Remains” doesn’t aim to change that formula. Players take control of Clementine and guide her through various areas that contain items of interest. Items range from trifles of no value, informational that gives an idea of an area/person, or valuable that can be used when necessary. Finding valuable items is necessary to move the story forward, generally by solving a simple task like lighting a fire (but can be far more complicated).
Combat usually involves inputting button prompts at the right time to avoid or fight off walkers. For example, a tense moment where Clementine is fighting off dangerous survivors requires luring them into a walker-dense area hoping they will finish the survivors off. To accomplish this, she must avoid walkers by quickly dodging their grasp, but she gets caught by a walker through a tree. To escape, you need to mash a button, causing her to force the arm from the walker’s socket.
Clementine makes any encounter with a walker life threatening. Changing the protagonist from Lee to Clementine makes the combat in the game even more visceral due to the very real danger of a young girl not being able to fight off a mindless corpse. There always lies the prospect of a walker overpowering and devouring this young girl, but she is not powerless. Clementine has taken all of Lee’s lessons to heart and she is crafty and clever. This fact is obvious at a specific situation in the episode where she shows off all her resourcefulness and how tough she is. While the gameplay is partly a mix of combat scenarios and exploration, the biggest aspect of gameplay is taking on the role of Clementine and navigating her through the various conversations with other survivors. How you deal with other survivors and the decisions you make are the main draw of gameplay.
Graphics and Sound
TellTale has made strides in the visual quality of their games since The Walking Dead: Season 1. The Wolf Among Us was visually impressive, offering a richly detailed world. It was also quite different from the color palette and tone of The Walking Dead. In Season 2, Clementine offers some incredible expressive reactions to the world around her. You can feel the world of powerful emotions that swirl within her. The muted colors and washed out look matches the tone of the story and bleakness of the world extremely well.
The one issue with the PS3 version of the game is a lag between dialogue and action input, plus, there were some instances of dialogue cutting off. The voice acting is superb. Bringing in a bunch of new characters runs the risk of someone giving a terrible performance, but everyone involved acts their part well. The voice cast is headed by a wonderful performance from Melissa Hutchinson as Clementine. Her performance nails the various emotions Clementine goes through (in the series prior and) the episode. She gives a particularly moving performance after Clementine meets the new survivors.
“All That Remains” is a solid opening for The Walking Dead: Season 2. It is not perfect and stumbles to establish a meaningful conflict to follow for the rest of the season outside of how Clementine will deal integrating into a new group of survivors. It does an excellent job asserting Clementine as a compelling protagonist and foreshadowing some of the issues with new survivors. There are also some great moments in the episode, but the ending leaves something to be desired. Despite some of the issues, it is definitely worth your time and the new season should prove just as exciting as Season 1.