Telltale Games is a bit of an odd one. Despite an array of rather mediocre titles and one that was flat out terrible (Jurassic Park really was pretty bad), the somewhat unexpected success of The Walking Dead seems to have wiped the slate clean for a developer that had arguably toiled in mediocrity up until that point. Still, praise where praise is due; The Walking Dead: Season One, despite a few technical hiccups was deservedly heaped with both critical praise and financial success.
The question is, can they do it again? Can they continue to match those levels or even surpass them? The fantastic, The Wolf Among Us certainly suggested so, and now, for those with any doubts comes, The Walking Dead: Season Two – Episode 1: All That Remains, a fantastic return to The Walking Dead universe and confirmation (if confirmation were needed), that Telltale now belong amongst gaming’s elite.
It’s not all plain sailing though; despite All That Remains being home to some fantastic writing, characterisation and genuinely thought provokingly decisions, Telltale’s uneven technical record once again rears its ugly head. It may be a better looking game than last season’s, with facial animations in particular making a big difference to the weight of character emotions, but QTE’s, which are still a tad hit and miss, can occassionaly prove a little glitchy while the framerate throughout is prone to some pretty major drops. Yes, a game of this ilk isn’t affected as strongly as others by such technical problems, but with a bigger team and a few more years’ development experience under their belt (not to mention millions more in the bank), it’s getting to the point in which Telltale are no longer deserving of a free pass on such matters.
The story too, while hard to judge on its own rights due to its part in a larger tale and equally difficult to critique without going into spoiler territory, does lack the kind of direction and purpose that was so clear from the off last season. The characters, while consistently interesting and often difficult to read are prone to some, shall we say, interesting behaviour while the arc, at least within the confines of this single episode, fails to say much about where the larger tale is ultimately heading.
Still, regardless of these issues, it’s great to be back in the world and fantastic to be a part of Clementine’s ongoing journey. She remains as interesting and likeable a character as ever and thanks to her age and stature (something that is played with nicely in the camera angles chosen), provides a very different proposition to what we experienced as Lee Everett. From the way you interact with the world to the way in which the world and it collection of interesting and often dangerous inhabitants interact with you, Season Two already feels like a familiar, but nonetheless very different proposition to what has come before.
It may not grab you in quite the same way that the Season One opener did, and technical inconsistencies still drag the experience down, but All That Remains still represents a strong start for Season Two and a unique perspective for both the series and for an industry seemingly obsessed with the male point of view. Episode One’s success can and will be re-evaluated as part of the whole, but for now, delivers enough thrills and, as we all hoped, enough emotional resonance to keep us eager for Episode Two’s release.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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