Review: The Walking Dead: S2E2: A House DividedReviews
*Beware of Spoilers*
While Rick and co. meander their way through the south on AMC’s Walking Dead, seemingly content on slowing the progression as much as possible, Telltalle’s Walking Dead continues to propel forward in unique directions, delivering the definitive interactive experience for fans of Robert Kirkman’s universe.
Picking up from where episode one left off, Clementine is left wondering who in the new group she can trust, or if anyone trusts her.
A House Divided does a lot to bring further dimensions to some of the new characters, although Sarah is still basically unlikable in every regard… She does serve her purpose as a foil to Clementine, a young girl who is fully capable of taking care of herself. She seems like the only obvious setup for the story, Clementine will eventually need to depend on her for something.
Minor spoilers ahead: A House Divided sees the surprising return of a well known character from season one. You feel Clem’s catharsis when you meet up with them, seeing a familiar face is surprisingly comforting in the sea of relative strangers. It’s hard to not want to immediately side with this person despite your deeper memories of their darker side. It’s like seeing an ex and temporarily forgetting all of those reasons they were actually a pretty horrible person.
One of Telltale’s biggest accomplishments is continuing to find ways to make the player feel smart. At one point an object appears in one scene, then again in another, it’s importance is exaggerated to the point of seeming obvious, yet it still provides a satisfying a-ha moment. It’s the little choices like this that elevates the series over its peers.
Another smart choice Telltale has made with the series is to incorporate less of the clunky puzzle elements that bogged down portions of season one, and instead focus more on the relationships of the characters. While it is important to provide moments of excitement in the gameplay, the gunshots and chases that break up the conversations are only a small portion of the overall formula.
While this may frustrate players looking for, say, survival horror; Telltale’s game is perfectly representative of the comic series, where fighting takes a back seat to the interaction of characters during the apocalypse.
At this point, the series is best described as interactive fiction of the highest order. A story the player gets to participate in, and feel like they have significant impact on. Whether this is an illusion of choice or not is kind of besides the point, the fact that you’re thoroughly convinced that your choices do matter is what keeps everything together.