After the stunning finale of season one, Telltale had quite the task ahead of themselves. The Walking Dead has thus far proven to be one of their strongest, most successful efforts. Screwing up now would spell disaster, especially with expectations running so high. With the debut episode of season two, All That Remains, they don’t quite hit the mark due to spending so much time laying the ground work for the rest of the season to come. But the story threads they sow show potential for great things to come.
Starring an older, wearier Clementine, the events of season one have changed her greatly. She’s grown considerably. No longer is she the same innocent little girl from before, but a much more mature, hardened individual. Still just as empathetic as before, of course, but with an apparent sense of growth. Now serving as the protagonist, you control Clementine’s thoughts and movements, deciding how certain scenes play out based on your choice of words or action, as well as further shaping her character in the process.
The same dialog tree from season one returns, still presenting three dialog options that allow you to determine how Clementine comes across to those around her, and an ellipses for when there isn’t anything to be said. Silence feels like a more reasonable choice this time. In season one, holding your tongue often resulted in Lee getting reprimanded for refusing to take a side in whatever argument was going down. In season two, at least so far, it doesn’t feel like you’re being scolded for choosing not to speak anymore. How everyone interprets it differs from character to character, but they all take it to mean something rather than a chance to lash out.
Much of this first episode sees her trying to survive alone, as she’s separated from her companions following an attack by scavengers and walkers. In a forest of all places, even. Hardly the best spot to be stranded in a world overrun by zombies. As such, the episode places a focus on action. Quick-time events are especially common – more so than before, as Clementine regularly finds herself escaping death’s grasp due to frequent encounters with walkers. The story threads deal primarily in setting up greater things to come, so no doubt the emphasis on set-pieces comes as a means of trying to spice up the opening.
What few scenes of down-time the game does provide are fleeting, only granting a modicum of time to properly come to learn about the new cast of survivors Clementine meets before abruptly ending. The new crew comes in the form of group living out of a cabin deep in the woods, all extremely wary of strangers. It’s hard to get a good read on them since time is so limited, which leaves much of the episode a bit lacking due to the absence of much character building or growth. It feels pressed for time, the latter half of the game attempting to squeeze as much exposition and recap as possible in the shortest amount of time available. Understandable given that we’re moving forward with a new crew now, and what with Clementine having changed so much, but a disappointment all the same.
Save for the final major choice, most of the decisions your faced with here are subtle, careful not to loudly announce that their one of the few to receive those statistics following the credits. It’s a welcome change, as you could frequently predict which ones were going to be tracked often throughout season one. Whereas now it’s not always clear how important those choices are on first glance, regardless of whether notifications are on or not. Makes for a better surprise.
All That Remains ends on a harrowing note, just when things are getting interesting. The preview for the next episode already hints at some large develops to come, ensuring that the rest of the season should easily continue the momentum of All That Remains’ final moments. It’s hardly the strongest opening for the series, but season two’s debut does a swell job of establishing Clementine as the new lead. Can only hope now that the next episode isn’t too far off.