Clem makes the awkward transition from child ward to pubescent protagonist.
By Jason Imms on January 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm
It was with a heavy sense of trepidation that I launched episode one of The Walking Dead: Season 2 (TWDS2). While I felt that enough time had passed since I last gazed into the grim reflection on humanity that is Telltale’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, I was concerned that seeing the world from Clem’s eyes may once again cause me more anguish than I can bear. What I found, though, was that taking on the role of Clementine didn’t make the experience as uncomfortably personal as I had expected. In fact, it removed one of the most interesting things about the game.
In Season 1 of The Walking Dead, the player was in control of Lee, who was followed around by young Clementine. Clementine was Lee’s reason to survive, and acted as a pole guiding his moral compass. Every decision made was weighed against the effect it would have on Lee’s ward, and ultimately—in a series proven capable of killing-off major characters—whether it could possibly lead her into harm’s way. In episode one of TWDS2, the player is acting as Clementine and has direct control over her. This means that if Clem dies, the only ramification is the restoration of a checkpoint.
The primary fear that the player could fail to protect Clem is removed by her elevation to protagonist.
The following video contains spoilers for the first eight minutes of Episode 1.
Couple this with what seem to be severely reduced quick-time-event timers, and the steady pacing that the drove the first season is shattered. Episode one of TWDS2 provides multiple opportunities for Clem to meet a quick and grisly end, resulting in a jarring checkpoint restart. Normally, deaths in The Walking Dead universe teach the player something about the nature of humanity. In TWDS2, Clem’s many and varied deaths teach the player nothing more than which button they should have hit during that quick-time-event.
TWDS2’s first episode sees Clem turn into a young adult whose childhood was stripped from her by the harsh reality of the post-apocalyptic setting. The innocent young girl that used to cast a disapproving eye upon Lee for mistreating others is gone, replaced with a teenager who doesn’t seem to know who to be, but does know how to take down a zombie. Every now and then we catch a glimpse of the Clem we once knew in her reliance on, and blind trust in others. Twice throughout episode one of TWDS2, we see Clem attempt to connect with others, and twice we see well-trodden stories of mistrust and dissent that seem to have been lifted right out of the Zombie Movie Playbook.
Episode one of The Walking Dead: Season 2 isn’t a strong start, but that should really be weighed against the perhaps insurmountable expectations left in the wake of Season 1. I hope that this merely represents an establishing episode for the new Clem, and that the human drama and truly uncomfortable and thought-provoking situations that the series has become known for will see a return in future episodes.
- More The Walking Dead!
- News on the fate that befell Clem since the end of Season 1
- Save data from Season 1 carries over and affects Season 2
- New characters to fear/befriend
- Playing as Clem removes the delightful fear of keeping her safe
- An increased number of checkpoint restarts break pacing, increase frustration
- Tired zombie film tropes: mistrust and dissent
The Walking Dead Season 2 is available on Steam for $25.
The reviewed copy of The Walking Dead: Season 2 was provided by the publisher.