The Walking Dead S2 'A House Divided' Review
The PC version was used to review this title.
I've waited 2 long months to finally come home and start the download to a game I knew would stress me out emotionally. My expectations for the second episode of The Walking Dead Season 2 ultimately did not disappoint me and as usual, I had more than one internal panic attack concerning my decisions. The way Telltale Games gives players this sense of urgency and distress over even the simplest of situations is key to the huge success. Controlling Clementine is basically like controlling myself and what I would probably do during the zombie apocalypse in her shoes. So, what exactly does 'A House Divided' offer? Well, it's mostly a filler episode which builds towards something bigger near the end. I'm not using the term "filler" in a negative connotation either. All episodes aren't meant to be heart wrenching, knuckle-whitening experiences. It's best to let those moments simmer to the boiling point, which we all know is coming in the later episodes.
Like all of the episodes, 'A House Divided' stands around 2-3 hours to completion. While the overall experience in terms of gameplay remains the same as before, each episode expands upon characters and the situations involving them. Picking up right where 'All That Remains' ended, episode 2 puts the player back into Clementine's shoes and the thing I like about being Clem is feeling the differences between her and Lee. Besides the blatantly obvious physical differences, Clem gets dragged into tight spots that Lee would never get caught up in. Because she is a little girl, Clem doesn't have the strength of a grown man to easily overcome walkers or other people. This adds a whole other realm to which players have to take a step back and re-collect their thoughts. It was once easy to take on a walker as Lee but can Clementine do the same without being put in harm's way? Whether she can or can't remains to be seen but the stark difference between both characters really helps to sell the desperation.
However, one of the downfalls to being Clementine in my opinion, is the lack of attachment to any of the new characters. Being Lee and running into sweet Clementine was different because at one point or another, you fell in love with Clementine. She was the little girl you had to protect and ultimately sacrificed your life to keep on protecting. Now that I am Clementine, I see no real reason to get emotionally attached to anyone because it's not the same as running into a little girl, who desperately needed my help. As of now, besides Christa (if she's even alive) and Luke, I could care less if anyone in the new group dies. That lost sense of attachment to the people around me is disappointing but not enough to make me dislike Season 2. Who knows though, maybe in the coming episodes, I'll finally grow a heart.
Speaking of my heart, I had a couple of moments where it skipped a few beats. As you are fully aware of, The Walking Dead is a game all about choices. Normally, choosing what to say in video games shouldn't be grounds for quick decision making but with this one, it is. All because players are allowed only a few precious seconds to make a decision and press the button link to said decision. When walkers are all around and you see that time gauge moving oh so fast, the luxury of thinking is void and it falls to reactions and instinct to take over; that or seeing the "Game Over" screen. There's a fair amount of instinctual choices which must be made before the episode nears its end and I'm pretty sure I made a couple of really bad decisions. However, that is the beauty of the entire thing; not every decision made is a right one and some will leave you feeling bad about what just happened. I did have one moment where I was displeased with the lack of a timer (shocking!). At a certain point, I had to choose a table to sit at but I had all the time in the world to make my choice because I wasn't being rushed by a time limit. What should have been a gut-wrenching choice quickly became a matter of logic and I wasn't plagued by the "Omg, I shouldn't have done that" thoughts.
In truth, 'A House Divided' also made it clear about Clementine's role in the new group. Just like with any stranger, the group is cautious around Clem, unsure of whether to trust her or not. Their feelings towards Clementine are ultimately left up to the player. Giving bad answers to questions or choosing whether or not to support someone influences the group. Luke (the guy who carried her in EP1) trusts and likes me because I've given him a reason to. Nick on the other hand (the young man with the hat) doesn't consider me a friend. Though personally, I'm fine with that because Nick is the new Ben (see TWD S1). The group from Season 1 was family, mostly everyone had each other's back and took care of one another. In this new group, I don't know much about them or the trouble they're in. Do I care? Besides the whole "safety in numbers" deal, not particularly. Finding Christa is my top priority and once I figure out if she's dead or not, I'll have to see where my loyalties lie.
Per usual with The Walking Dead, by the end of the episode, my mouth was slightly ajar and I could pluck the tension from the air. It hurts having to wait for my next opportunity to play but I know the wait will be well worth it. I had almost expected technical issues to pop their ugly heads up during my playthrough but, to my surprise, they did not! Having played all the other episodes on my 360, I've become accustomed to first week issues like lag, long load screens and so on. Played just this one episode on Steam and didn't run into a hitch. It was as if someone took the finished product and ran it through silk. I know where I'll be playing the rest of the game in later weeks.
+ Intense decision making
+Smooth framerate and no technical issues
+Does a good job of setting up for Episode 3
- No sense of attachment to new group
- Some downplayed moments
Would I say if 'A House Divided' is a good episode? While it may not be action packed, it is in fact a good episode and worth the $5 price tag. To those that already have Episode 1, downloading this is a no brainer; though most of you probably already beat this latest episode. I'm highly invested in finding out what will happen to Clementine so until the next episode comes out, I'll be biting my nails impatiently.