Developer: Telltale Games Publisher: Telltale Games Price: £18.99 (For Complete Season)
The first episode of Season Two of The Walking Dead is exactly what you'd expect, in that it's rarely what you expect at all. It is typically impossible to anticipate, making you second-guess yourself and ambushing you with unexpected consequences even when you know, for absolutely sure this time, that you've made the right decision. It's not the strongest episode in the series for several reasons, some of which are perhaps unavoidable. But if you've come into this review with the question "can Season Two hold a candle to Season One?" then yes, it absolutely can.
Season Two is by and large a fresh start for The Walking Dead. Most of the remaining characters from Season One are, for one reason or another, not present or quickly make their excuses and exit stage left. But there are two things which tie the seasons together, and one is broadly successful while the other is difficult to gauge.
The latter is the fact that your decisions from Season One, and the interim episode 400 days, allegedly carry over into Season Two. Any criticism of this comes with the caveat of "It's early days yet", but regarding this episode in particular (which is entitled All That Remains), it's certainly no Mass Effect. In fact, there aren't really any obvious places where those early choices could have any clear influence on the events of this episode.
Does this matter? Well, insofar as because the developers claim it does, yes. Thankfully, the other tie that binds the first season to the second is much more of a triumph, and that is the new lead character for Season Two, Clementine, the little girl who won the hearts of pretty much everyone with a working limbic system. All That Remains is all about Clementine, in a way that is both the episode's greatest strength and biggest weakness.
Sixteen months have passed since the events of the first series, which means Clementine's a little taller and considerably more survival-savvy than she was previously, comfortable with carrying a gun and fierce when fighting off an aggressor, undead or otherwise. Crucially, though, Telltale haven't conveniently forgotten that Clem is, ultimately, a ten year old girl, meaning playing as her makes for a very different experience than playing as Lee in the first series.
Any scrapes she gets into are desperate, flailing encounters, as pretty much everyone she comes across is either bigger or stronger or deader than her. Meanwhile, her dialogue choices tend toward earnestness or guarded silence rather than outright lying. There's a good moment which signifies this delicate balance of Clementine's personality when, while searching for food, she picks up a plastic doll, looks at it for a moment, sighs and mutters "Nothing edible here."