As always, for fear of spoilers, reviewing the latest episode of The Walking Dead is a rather tricky affair, but after the relatively slow start of episode 1, it’s safe to say that, while yet to reach the heights achieved in the best episodes of season 1, episode 2 of your journey as the delicate but ever resourceful, Clementine does feel like a decidedly more organic episode than the first.
While still rather brilliant in its own right, episode 1 suffered from excess exposition and an overt and ultimately damaging commitment to setting up the rest of the season. With that set-up largely out of the way (but still not completely gone), episode 2 has greater opportunity to get into the minds of season 2’s fresh faces while also managing to move the larger story arc along at a much more agreeable clip. It’s still ponderous at times and some of the characterisation is a tad clumsy, but for the most part, this is slick, entertaining stuff.
Sadly, while the characters and storytelling really begin to come into their own in episode 2 (with the ending in particular proving a highlight to match anything that came in season 1), it is the usual array of technical issues that once again keep this game (and the series as a whole), from achieving true greatness. From the ropey QTEs to the graphical glitches and the array of technical issues that do their damndest to ruin the otherwise expertly crafted sense of immersion, Telltale have once again let themselves down by releasing a product that, while artistically brilliant, is a bit of a technical dog.
Still, while harder to forgive nowadays, those who have come this far know what to expect from a Telltale game by now…..just be warned, episode 2 shows no signs of improvement in this department, which giving the seemingly ever increasing size of the team, is proving increasingly difficult to accept.
What has improved however is the sense of threat. Rather than only dealing with the completely necessary but somewhat predictable walking dead, the introduction (ok, return) of a genuinely interesting villain in the form of Carver, does provide for a more thought provoking and morally interesting collection of events with the ending of the episode in particular pointing towards a dramatic and exciting continuation to the series. Voiced brilliantly by Michael Madsen, Carver and his cohorts help to provide the spark and genuine sense of mystery that was occasionally missing from episode 1.
So, while season 2 is still yet to match the consistent brilliance of the more successfully structured and self-contained first season, episode 2 is nonetheless a move in the right direction for a season that, while still fantastic, has proved a little more ponderous than its free standing predecessor. The technical issues that mire all of Telltale’s work are still apparent and episode 2 spends a little too much time setting up events for later in the season, but, make no mistake about it, episode 2 represents a fantastic piece of interactive storytelling, one that thanks to its brilliant writing, increasingly interesting cast of characters and all new threat, might yet leave season 2 a match for its decidedly illustrious predecessor.
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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