The Walking Dead Season Two: No Going Back Review

Gaming

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The Walking Dead Season Two: No Going Back
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Price: $4.99 – Available Here

Overview
Over the course of The Walking Dead Season Two Telltale Games has managed to tell a story with a very different tone than that of the first season. With the focus shifted from protecting a young girl as Lee, to surviving with a new set of strangers as Clementine, Season Two has managed to pull together an impressive story in its own right. However with No Going Back being the final episode, does the second season feature a fitting finale?

Story
As mentioned in previous reviews, the following review will contain some minor spoilers for the events that happened in the most recent episodes, though the actual details of the story will be kept to a minimum. With that said No Going Back picks up immediately after the events of Amid the Ruins, meaning Clementine and her group are in the middle of a shootout.

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Screenshot from “Amid the Ruins”

Right off the bat players are immediately forced to make decisions that involve the group’s survival and put Clementine’s safety at risk. However while the episode might start full of danger, it slows down to a crawling pace which feels strange considering the fact that this is the final episode that must wrap things up. While the story takes these slow moments to try and develop the fraying connections holding the group together, players are given very little reason to care about two of the members of the group which makes one certain event feel like a disappointment as well as a poignant betrayal.

Of course the fact that you can feel betrayed by a character does wonders for Telltale’s writing; it also lacks credibility, even if the splintering of the group has been hinted throughout the last few episodes. It is also interesting to note that while this is Clementine’s journey, the main focus has been Kenny’s descent into darkness. Players have watched the downfall of Kenny throughout the season and his interactions with the rest of the group bring things to a head, often making players have to decide between agreeing with Kenny, trying to help the group, or attempt to stay neutral.

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Although the story may begin to drag in the middle and lacks a fair amount of the drama found in the first season’s ending, there are still twists to be had and emotions can run raw due to the various events that occur throughout the episode, especially during a certain sequence. At the same time though, many of these emotions come from other characters whereas Clementine simply seems like she is along for the ride as she listens to their problems.

That being said, the weight of these characters’ emotions plays heavily into expanding them in the final episode, allowing players one more look at what they are struggling with. Nowhere do they run higher than at the conclusion where three different endings, and variations of those endings, are presented to the player. In a way that is a far cry from the first season, each of these endings feels satisfying in its own right, even if the meaning behind each ending is quite sad, but it will be very interesting to see exactly where Telltale will go from here.

Gameplay
It is interesting to see how Telltale has managed to take a very simplistic set of mechanics and evolve them over time to give certain actions extra meaning. While the core gameplay still remains the same, it is in this episode where the mechanic involving slow actions helps give a scene extra meaning as players tend to someone instead of simply clicking a button and watching events unfold.

As mentioned above, player choice does play a role in how events unfold in the final endings which is an improvement over the first season where the ending was the same, only the journey in the final episode was altered. This gives players a chance to really feel like they are forming Clementine’s personality and resolve as they choose how she will respond and what actions she will take when she is forced to decide.

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It is also worth noting that the series’ standard Rewind feature is also a very nice feature considering the game’s multiple ending options. While players may wish to simply stick with the ending that they originally received because they went with their gut feelings, it really helps give players an option to not only alter the way they wish the story to end, but also find out what else might have happened if they chose a different option.

Visuals & Audio
With winter closing in and snow blanketing everything, Telltale has chosen a different overall environment for players to navigate through but the standard comic book art style persists throughout No Going Back which continues to work wonders given the art style and the subtle emotions the developers can still draw from the characters.

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Screenshot from “Amid the Ruins”

The voice work continues to be as impressive as ever, especially with tensions running as high as they do in this final episode, showing that Telltale has an eye for good voice actors.

Overall
By placing players in control of Clementine Telltale Games gave us a game with a tone far different from that of the first season and they have managed to tell a successful and different story with a satisfying set of endings. By building tension over the past few episodes and having it pay off with No Going Back, players are in for quite an emotional experience. Even though this finale has its high points and low points, it concludes with Telltale being placed in an interesting position as they have hooked an audience that will be waiting to see how and if things will continue in the next season.

8-0-capsules-out-of-10
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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