Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Walking Dead Season 2 - Episode 2: "A House Divided" review

This review will contain spoilers for the previous episode of The Walking Dead Season 2

Season two of The Walking Dead started off in style. Introducing a more mature yet cynical Clementine, it's already shaping to be a better season than the first. Everyone from the first season has been lost along the way, and Clementine truly is alone in this awful, zombie-infested world. Episode one featured many terrifying action scenes, and Clementine proved time and time again that she's a born survivor. How will she fare in the second outing of season two? Read our full review below to find out. 

The game picks up straight after episode one finished. One of the new group has just been left for dead, and Clementine is left with the chosen survivor, trapped in a cabin deep in the woods. It's up to Clementine to get them out of there. It's a typical action-packed opening to an episode of The Walking Dead, and it shows how much of a badass the once innocent Clem has become. One of the major themes in "A House Divided" is trust. On many occasions, Clem will be asked to make the final call about whether or not the group can trust new faces. When she first met the new group, the majority of them really weren't keen on letting her stay, so the fact that they're allowing her to make important decisions for them is a big step, and casts a new light on Clem's relationship with the group. 

 Luke is very protective of Clementine, and will watch out for her whenever he can

There are many moments in this episode where you have to make small decisions, and no matter which way you go with it, someone is going to feel hurt. This comes into play even further when an old friend appears, and you have to eat dinner with them, or your new group. It really is an awful moment as whoever you don't sit with gives a sad, rejected look to Clementine. This episode's script is one of the best in the series, and the conversation choices that Clem makes seem to have a lot more weight to them. Less people get physically hurt, but there's a lot of emotions flying around, and tough decisions have to be made quickly. But that's the thing with Telltale's games; you have to make a decision in real time, and suffer with the consequences of it. 

There is one incredibly tense scene where an intruder forces his way into the house, and Clementine is the only person there to deal with it. As he pushes further into the house, and asks more and more questions, you have to decide if you can trust him with the information he is looking for, or whether you should lie to his face in the interest of group safety. It's a genuinely scary section of the episode, and is just as tense as any scene involving walkers. 

Clementine is now awesome at killing zombies, all thanks to Lee

Perhaps the best news about this episode is that they finally seem to solved the problem of the pauses and stutters. In the majority of Telltale's games, after you've made a speech choice or loaded a new scene, it takes a while for the game to load whatever happens next. This means that every episode they've released so far has been plagued with pauses and little jumps, stopping gameplay and in some ways, breaking immersion. But now, it seems to have gone! Finally, after many episodes and numerous different series, "A House Divided" was almost perfect. There were just a few examples of very small stutters, and even those were barely noticeable. Hats off to Telltale for solving this problem after it's been sullying their games for so long. It's also much better graphically too. The character models look much smoother, particularly in the faces, and the graphics are noticeably better in general this time around.

"A House Divided" feels like a much shorter episode than the previous ones, but it's a turning point for Clementine. Clementine is maturing and those around her are realising it, and don't treat her like a small child anymore. The group finally and completely trust her, and this episode sees them give her a number of important jobs and decisions to make. Relationships progress, you'll see new locations and many new characters, and all in all, it's a fantastic episode. It's very tense, and like the latest episode of The Wolf Among Us, there is less violence but much more character and story progression. Like always, a shocking ending paves the way for the next episode, and it can't come quick enough. If you've played and enjoyed the previous episodes, there's no doubt that you'll like this one too.


by Louis Gardner

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