Season One of The Walking Dead was somewhat of a surprise hit when it released in 2012, using the episodic mechanic to further the experience of the world created by Robert Kirkman. It has been released on pretty much every format ever eventually finding its way to the PS Vita. It was a long wait but more than worth, so it is great that the wait for Season 2 hasn’t been as long, finding itself on Sony’s handheld by the time Episode 2 released.
WARNING – SEASON ONE SPOILERS CONTAINED
Much of what made Season One such a wonderful experience remains in Season Two. The story is well written, with drama at every turn and unlike the TV version of the show, it never feels drawn out just to fill air time. After the death of Lee Everett, the main protagonist from Season One, young Clementine becomes the game’s main focus and from the very start, it appears her life hasn’t got any easier or better.
What makes the story work is that it doesn’t focus on any of the characters from the TV version, so there is no need for the writers to make sure they keep characters alive for the sake of continuity. In Season One, the only links to the TV version was the brief cameos from Hershel and Glenn. But because they were just cameos, it allowed the creative team to go all out and produce all the shocks and twists they wanted.
This all returns in Season Two and within a few minutes of playing, the team are right back to getting a strong grip on your attention, making it nigh on impossible to just play for a few minutes. You simply have to play on and see what happens next. Part of this is also down to just how well acted the game is, if you come from Season One into Season Two, you already have an emotional attachment and it continues right through the first two episodes.
If you played the game on the Vita exclusively, then there is a chance you had the season pass and therefore all episodes available from the start, which meant you missed out on one of the major draws of episodic content…The wait. By finishing of a cliffhanger, or a decent plot change meant you were hankering for more, but having to wait weeks for the next episode built up that anticipation. Thankfully, getting in at Episode Two this time around, means you get to experience the game exactly how it was intended.
Whilst the bulk of what made the original such a great experience remains, there have been a few minor changes. The user interface has received a bit of a facelift, which is designed to make it easier to see what actions need to be performed, or what is interactive during each scene. Oddly though, it can take a while to get used to this, especially with some of the QTE moments.
Early on there is a scene where Clem needs to battle her way to safety, using a mix of bashing the X button and pressing a direction. However, the feedback on screen for some of this isn’t as clear as you’d hope and it is difficult to tell initially if you got the timing right or not. One such moment saw us pressing right but still getting caught, a second time, a third time…yet we did nothing different the forth time, but were successful. It just wasn’t clear at all from previous moments where the success window was clearly wider, how our timing was.
Yet in terms of the UI, that is the only complaint, as the mixture of button and touch screen options work really well and is better implemented here than in Season One, thanks in part to allowing the user to use either, or both at their own leisure. One of the big issues though does remain.
On the Vita version, Season One seemed to struggle to run, with long load times and scenes often stuttering at crucial points. Now this didn’t affect the enjoyment of the game as a whole, it was an annoyance. The same issues are here again, but they do seem to be a little less prevalent, but whether this will be the case all the way through remains to be seen, as it was more noticeable in later episodes of Season One, than the first few.
A game like The Walking Dead lives and dies on its story and characters and the fact that Season Two is more of the same is nothing but a good thing. If you enjoyed Season One, or you enjoy the graphic novels and TV series, then you will love the game. Tell Tale Games have struck gold yet again.