Disclaimer: The following review will contain spoilers for season 1 of The Walking Dead the game, please only read if you have completed the first season.
I must protect Clementine. This was my one and only goal in the first season of The Walking Dead and having completed that chapter I can proudly say that I was successful. Coming into the second season, the tone shifts. I must protect Clementine, but this time I am Clementine. Desperation fills my mind as my purpose to just survive becomes more prominent. Not to say too much about how Episode 1: All that Remains starts, but you will find yourself about two years later from the end of Season 1 and you are alone. You have become separated from your party and need to find them. This is where the story of season 2 holds most of my attention. There is no real goal or objective guiding your every step. You play as Clementine and you get to take everything that Lee taught you from the first season and create your own Clem. She can be one that has lost her innocence in this harsh, new world yet still has a moral compass, or be a cold, ruthless girl who will say anything to get her way. Telltale Games has created a truly masterful story telling technique over the last few years and I trust that they have a overall story arc for this season, but as it stands right now, your path could go anywhere. I love that they have an open story that keeps you guessing and takes into account your decisions from Season 1.
As you progress through the nearly two hour long episode you will find yourself rescued by a group of people that have a scarred past. You can tell that the tensions are high and the group has a hard time welcoming you into their fold. What you do as a player to survive as you control Clementine is left up to you and the story that is laid down in this episode sets the ground work for what I believe will be a excellent second season. None of these characters would be believable if it were not for the amazing voice acting. Melissa Hutchinson reprises her role as Clementine and was able to change her voice just enough to create a slightly older tween version of Clem. Overall there is awesome voice work from all of the cast and the slightly enhanced facial animations help to impart emotions much clearer this time around. Telltale has done some work on their engine and it clearly shows. If you compare side by side screens of the two seasons you will notice at how much brighter and colorful season 2 is. The lag and hiccups that has hindered the series is still here, but to a much lesser extent. It seems they were able to mask more of the loading times on black screens rather than on game play footage, so the stalling is much less noticeable.
The Walking Dead is a point and click adventure game, and at its heart it is rather light on game play, but it still works well. Puzzles are oriented on survival and solving them is no difficult task. I feel they are simply in place to add to the story, because when it comes down to it, that is why I want to play this game. Telltale has taken some of the mechanics from The Wolf Among Us to help enhance combat. When you can interact with something in the world all you need to do is move your right stick into the highlighted circle and hit your right button. It works more simply and takes away the need to remove your thumb from the stick to click a corresponding face button. There is the occasional button mashing and a new stick swipe is also in place to help avoid enemies while moving. The combat is smooth and quite brutal, and some of the most disturbing moments are achingly touching as you see what your poor Clem has to go through. The game creates such a strong bond between you and Clementine that the other characters are more of an afterthought to her survival. How you apply the teachings you learned from Lee Everett before his death are up to you, and the person you want to become is in your hands. You are Clementine. Do not let yourself down.
PS3 review copy was provided by Telltale Games.