If it has been a while since you played the first game, worry not: Season 2 wastes no time before turning intense and heartbreaking. Characters that you like will die, impossible choices will be made, and blood (of the living and the undead) will be spilled.
All That Remains, as Episode 1 is titled, opens on an older, more capable (after all, we taught her to be that way) Clementine who is forced to survive on her own in a world that does not care. Clem, while certainly broken and scarred from the events of the first game, is still the girl we grew to love while we protected her from the horrors of Macon and Savannah in Season 1. But she will never be the same.
|Not a dry eye in the house|
Part of what was so amazing about Season 1 was that Telltale took the frustrating and universally disliked escort mechanic and turned it into an emotional, human relationship with a vulnerable little girl. Clementine has always been the star of the show, and that is even more apparent here.
Although I do approve of the new cast and how they interact with Clem, I can't help but wish that I got to spend more time with them. Only 30 minutes of my 80-minute playthrough—yes, it is very short—was spent in the company of the supporting characters. As it stands, they feel less like human beings and more like archetypes: nice guy, jerk, doctor, hunter, etc. I look forward to becoming intimately familiar with their hopes, fears, and motivations in future episodes.
Telltale does not shy away from violence and gore. It is for this reason that I was so terrified of missing an input during the frequent quick time events; I did not want to see Clem die horribly. In the interest of being thorough, yes, I did watch several of the death animations, and yes, they are awful. Thankfully, they are avoidable.
With that being said, this is not a game for those with weak stomachs. There were two scenes in particular that felt excessive, almost to the point that I needed to avert my eyes. Like Lee taking the ax to a trapped man's leg in Season 1, the extreme close-up of makeshift stitches over a gaping wound made me feel queasy, and the mercy killing of a doomed character left me disappointed and sad.
The word "gratuitous" comes to mind, but upon further thought, I don't think it's appropriate. While incredibly unpleasant, even the most gruesome scenes in The Walking Dead serve a purpose: This is Clementine's world now, and each of these events is shaping her future. It is unclear how much of the Clem that we met last year will be left at the end of Season 2, but I will do my damnedest to protect her every step of the way. It's what Lee would want.
In spite of a rather one-dimensional cast and a disappointingly short episode, All That Remains is a powerful introduction to a series that is certain to leave us broken and weeping a second time. Do not miss it.
I still haven't completely recovered from last season's finale. What are some of your favorite moments from Season 1? Let me know in the comments!