Developer: Telltale Studios
Publisher: Telltale Studios
Platform: PS3, 360, PC (Steam)
Release Date: March 4, 2013
ESRB: M for Mature
The review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game
Another month, and another episode of a Telltale story to play. Last month, eager fans finally received the second episode of The Wolf Among Us, continuing the Big Bad Wolf's investigation into a bizarre murder plot, and this month fans of The Walking Dead get to see where Clementine's fight for survival and a place to belong in a zombie-infested world take her. But will Episode 2 bring excitement and conflict to the second season of this adventure game series, or will players be left lacking?
Whereas Episode 1 focused on how Clementine has grown since the first season as well as introducing a new set of survivors to get used to, Episode 2 focuses more on fleshing out these new characters. While we were only given a small taste of their personalities in Episode 1, the group of survivors in Season 2 all have strong motives and convictions of their own, and it slowly becomes obvious that these weren't people forced together solely for survival, like the group from Season 1. Episode 2 introduces a new antagonist to the series, and with that brings a new tension to Clementine - the threat of human conflict.
In addition to this, the group also meets up with another group of survivors, including (as promised in Episode 2's preview) a rather surprising familiar face. The rest of the episode involves Clementine coming to terms with this situation. She has to juggle the past and present, and decide who and what is more important to her... whether it's this new cast of survivors that have now accepted her into their group, or this (possibly even a shadow of) comforting, solid memory of the past. This rather unexpected plot thread makes all of the decisions in the latter half of the episode that much more difficult, especially when you learn of the mental frailty of some of the characters.
A House Divided is far from action packed; most of the episode involves chatting with the survivors and making tense decisions, but the episode is better for that. Since there are few situations where you have to take down Walkers and fight for survival, it gives plenty of time for the various characters to become fleshed out, as well as ample time for the new antagonist to make himself and his power known. This episode also leaves at an interesting point, making it clear that Season 2 is going to be quite different from Telltale's first foray into The Walking Dead canon.
There are also little tidbits to help make Episode 2 more fulfilling. Those who played 400 Days will get to see what happened to the survivors at the end of the intermediary episode, though it's unobtrusive enough that those that didn't pick up the extra episode won't miss much for it. Also, later decisions felt like they had a fair amount of weight to them; I personally felt that if I hadn't have made the decisions I had, certain people would have died and would have a long-term impact on the plot. Whether that is actually true is yet to be seen, as fans of Season 1 know of Telltale's way of handling the branching plot there, but for the time being it looks very promising.
On the gameplay side on things, everything is as you would expect from a Telltale title: A few quick time events, multiple dialogue options, and sometimes a simple puzzle to solve. Episode 2's 360 counterpart stills suffers from the occasional slowdown and stuttering that console Telltale games have, but it seemed to improve a bit from Episode 1... more than likely due to the decreased amount of actions scenes in this episode.
If anything, The Walking Dead Season 2 is shaping up to be an interesting, different experience from the first season. While it is yet to be seen if fans' biggest gripe of the first season will be rectified, seeing the continuation of Clementine's struggle in an apocalyptic world is reason enough to look into Telltale's latest tale.
+ Character development helps the player care more for the new group of survivors
+ The returning character brings a new dynamic to the plot that wasn't possible in Season 1
- Still feels like the episode is merely setting up for later tension, instead of standing on its own
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
A House Divided sets the stage for a intense and thrilling story for the second zombie-filled season of Telltale's The Walking Dead.
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review