The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains
First posted on 08 February 2014. Last updated on 15 September 2014.
|Clementine knows her way around a gun now.|
|Clementine keeps a photo of Lee as a memento.|
|Clementine makes a new friend.|
|Clementine wakes up to a new group of survivors.|
|Not for the squeamish!|
The Walking Dead: Season 2
The season is comprised of 5 episodes:
- Episode 1: All That Remains
- Episode 2: A House Divided
- Episode 3: In Harm's Way
- Episode 4: Amid the Ruins
- Episode 5: No Going Back
The first season of The Walking Dead tells the story of the convict Lee and his moral compass Clementine as they navigate a post zombie apocalyptic world. Developer and publisher Telltale Games has managed to craft and a heart-wrenching (and often gut-wrenching) story that pulls the player through the entire gamut of emotions when confronted with choices of morality and personal ethics. Unsurprisingly, with the debut of the second season, Telltale Games seeks to continue the success of the series. In this context, Episode 1: All That Remains, presents both a welcome return to form and a somewhat worrying opening entry.
A little over a year has passed since the events of the first season. The young Clementine is now a little older, a little wiser, and a little more subdued. Once frightened of guns, she keeps a small handgun of her own in hand almost constantly. Though she is still a little girl, she has lost much of her naïveté. Separated from her friends, Clementine travels alone, looking for a new group of survivors with which she can brave the still desolated world of walkers and bandits.
It was difficult for me to see this first episode of the current season as a standalone entry without the context of the previous season. When I played the first season, I was introduced in the first episode to both of the main characters, Lee and Clementine, who would remain throughout all of the episodes of that season. Though Lee was the only controllable character, I was able to make choices to shape Lee's personality and ultimately influence the extent of Lee's personal redemption based on his interactions with young Clementine. I spent the early part of that episode getting to know both Lee and Clementine, which helped to keep me engrossed in the story during what was in effect a prologue: get to know the main characters in the first half of the episode, bring in supporting characters during the second half of the episode before introducing a cliffhanger ending. With the second season, I felt that I already knew Clementine well, and I no longer needed to spend the early part of this episode getting to know her. Consequently, the beginning of the current season felt a little slow and was not as easy to become engrossed in as it was with the beginning of the previous season.
As lovable as Clementine is as a character, her effectiveness as a main protagonist is questionable. In first season, she serves as a sort of moral barometer for Lee. She is, in effect, presented as the ultimate good in a world of various shades of gray. The relationship between Lee and Clementine is compelling, in that each betters the other in various ways. By contrast, in the second season (so far), Clementine is lacking an effective foil. Even when she is among other characters, she still very much has a standalone mentality present in both her words and her actions. Despite having hardened somewhat since the first season, she is still presented as goodness and light: there is no questionable moral ground to her character. For example, the player is given a choice to either play Clementine as a hardened survivor or a still innocent little girl. Yet, instead of shaping a character—as the player does with Lee—the choices feel more like a hit-or-miss guessing game: "How would 'my' Clementine respond in this situation?" becomes "How would 'the' Clementine respond in this situation?"—an important distinction to recognize.
That is not to say that this episode is bad—it is not. It holds the dubious honor of being the most gruesome episode in the series to date as well as serving as an introduction to what is promising to be another rollercoaster ride in the land of bloodthirsty walkers and dubious scavengers. Some gameplay mechanics (notably Quick Time Event) have been tweaked for the better, and the cel-shaded comic book effect still looks gorgeous. Despite the questionable appropriateness of Clementine as the main protagonist for the game—as opposed to focusing on a brand new character, perhaps—there is still much to look forward to continuing her story and watching her grow over the rest of the season. I can only hope that the benefit of hindsight after playing the next episode will put my worries about this episode to rest.