We follow Clementine through a series of lose-lose situations in which the only way forward is by making a decision that will negatively impact the ones around her.
Super Gamer Dude
Don't play The Walking Dead: Season 2 if you haven't played the original. The best part of the game is how a character in the original series grows and evolves into a fully realized, three dimensional protagonist worthy of the time you'll invest in each of the five episodes. If you haven't seen where girl protagonist Clementine comes from, this second season's greatest strength will be significantly diluted for you.
Well that's not to say nothing else has improved. Whereas the first season asked us to believe that if we shook its hand, it would take us on a journey where our choices mattered, all it did was deliver an electric shock. This time choices actually do have a rather sizable impact on the conclusion of certain story lines. Elsewhere, the graphics are a little nicer in that the characters look less like they're made of polygons and the trees resemble something more like real trees. That's about it.
There are still technical issues that Telltale seems to refuse to address. On PC, sometimes bizarre glitches will impede progress. Even on more stable consoles, there are intermittent graphics issues. They've put out 10 episodes now and one additional bonus story, as well other games on the same engine. It's high time they fixed these issues that detract from the experience.
What do you do in The Walking Dead: Season 2? Well, you start out alone trying to survive in a zombie wilderness in a promising first chapter, which is a great deal more original and has writing that is much more constructive to establishing a heart of its own. Then you join with the usual cliched crew of survivors in the second episode. It all goes tumbling downhill when a mad mastermind of Ye Olde Safeguard Against Zombie Horde clearly inspired by the series' Governor character appears. From then on, it's a matter of Choose Your Own Zombie Cliche.
The problem is that Telltale isn't as good as this kind of thing as you might imagine from the praise the series has gotten. Telltale used to make games based on comedy properties: old point and click adventures like Sam & Max and Monkey Island, or animation and movies that depended on funny, memorable properties like Strong Bad, Back to the Future or Wallace & Gromit. The Walking Dead owes just as much of its interface to the tradition of those old adventures games where you select icons to look, talk, use or interact with objects and people, but it's really in the style of Japanese visual novel games which have you pick choices from available options at plot junctures. More importantly, because these are not comedy characters who build their identities through the standard point and click style of comical dialogue responses to clicking on the environment, the characters in Walking Dead: Season 2 come off as flat.
This was not as much a problem in the first season, because Telltale was largely plagiarizing in that one. Without an extremely inspired and masterful zombie novel behind it -- The Road is perhaps the best of its kind in written fiction -- Season 2 flounders. It can't fall back on the cultural ties a bond between an adult protecting a child can bring to a story. While not as manipulative in the same way, you can see the Telltale writers working hard from their Scriptwriting 101 classes to make you feel for characters by forcing contrived expository dialogue down their throats.
Dear Telltale, please observe that there are thousands of ways people get to know each other and form bonds that can cause emotional strife in a story. Picking and choosing from the most obvious exposition devices possible in order to let players choose who they save and who they let die is just as manipulative as exploiting the natural tendency to want to protect children in the first game.
In the end, just like one might read a romance novel for the heartbreak and passion of the inevitable hookup, or a fantasy novel for the creativity of its lore and world, The Walking Dead: Season 2 is best left as a curio for those who really love their apocalyptic fiction.