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The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 1: ‘All that Remains’ | Review

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“She’ll die a little girl if you treat her like one. You gotta consider her a living person. That’s it. You’re either living or you’re not. You ain’t little, you ain’t a girl, you ain’t a boy, you ain’t strong or smart. You’re alive.” – Chuck, The Walking Dead: Season One

 

It has been one year since we journeyed with loveable Lee and Clementine on an emotional rollercoaster, one that left you crying, mesmerised and touched. The writers and developers of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games didn’t just create a game, they created a masterpiece, one filled with believable characters who you cared for and one of the best narratives I had the pleasure experiencing.

And then it ended. Lee’s fate was set and had to be accepted. He cared and protected Clementine and taught her how to survive in a world filled with darkness and the dead. But what about Clementine? Well, her fate was unknown until now because finally, it’s here, The Walking Dead: Season Two.

Memories

Memories

Before the game starts, flashbacks of your previous gameplay are shown, along with the tough choices you had to make and the ending with your heartbreaking last goodbyes, so make sure you have your gameplay from Season One saved — including 400 Days — otherwise your choices from the previous games will automatically be generated in Season Two. It isn’t entirely necessary to have your save files, but it is recommended as your decisions have an impact on Season Two. For more information about this, be sure to check out Telltale’s frequently asked questions about Season Two.

Clementine and her famous badass baseball cap are back in Episode One: All That Remains. The first episode begins with Clem walking with returnees Omid and Christa — Christa, who is now months into her pregnancy which was hinted then confirmed in Season One. Within the first ten minutes, tension and suspense already come into play, leaving you trapped in a difficult situation.

Survive

Survive

Sixteen months will pass and Clementine’s maturity has further developed. You will notice her voice has slightly changed and she is stronger and much more aware of things, such as picking up on someone’s emotions and being aware of what is happening around her.

Even though she is ten years old, learning the key elements of survival, losing innocence and gaining independence is crucial, especially living and growing up in an apocalyptic world filled with death and chaos, and during Episode One, we watch, survive and grow with Clementine — similar to Lara Croft in this year’s Tomb Raider.

But if there’s one main factor to learn throughout ‘All That Remains’, it’s that if there is one thing to fear more than the dead, it’s the living.

Luke and Pete

Luke and Pete

Meet two of The Walking Dead’s newest characters, Luke and Pete, my new favourite characters. Without giving too much away, Clementine will meet Luke and Pete in the forest and they then bring you to their group. It’s not certain yet, but I have the feeling Luke will possibly be the next central character during the series, similar to Lee in terms of caring and looking after her.

In the introduced group you will meet Nick, Pete’s niece who doesn’t trust you; Rebecca, a pregnant woman who doesn’t like you; Alvin, Rebecca’s husband; Carlos, a protective father and doctor; and Sarah, Carlos’s innocent-minded daughter.

The New Group

The New Group

Throughout the game, certain characters will mention a man named Carver; a man who was once part of their group who they are afraid of. It’s unknown who Carver is for the time being, but it seems certain that he is bad news and possible he could be a main villain throughout the series.

Just like Season One, the characters are believable, have great dialogue and you will find yourself liking some new characters and hating others. Toward the end, you will learn things about each person in the group and draw your own conclusions and suspicions. Whether you trust them or not is up to you, and the ending is one that will leave you on edge, leaving you choosing.

Reaching OutThe gameplay itself has definitely improved, along with the graphics. It still has a comical ‘feel’ to it, but the textures are a lot clearer and sharper. The controls are smooth and pretty much the same, although there a few new features, such as using the lighter, stitching your wound — ouch! — and eavesdropping in on conversations, that have been added to the game.

The main menu now includes a new ‘My Choices’ section which shows the core decisions you made during your gameplay, and like the first season, there are five episodes — ‘All That Remains’, ‘A House Divided’, ‘In Harm’s Way’, ‘Amid the Ruins’ and ‘No Going Back’. By observing the images for each episode, it looks as though Clementine will remain with the new group to episode three where it looks as though she might have to deliver Rebecca’s baby in ‘In Harm’s Way’.

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What about decisions? Did some of the choices I made in Season One have any affect in the first episode? Yes. As mentioned earlier, your decisions do have an impact on certain things. Through my gameplay, Clementine mentions Lee to Luke and tells him the advice Lee gave to her, which in my case was for her to stay away from cities. I also noticed in other peoples’ playthroughs Clementine will say the word ‘shit’ instead of ‘shoot’ if Lee swore around her. They aren’t anything major — for now anyway — but I found it interesting.

As for 400 Days, none of the main characters are seen in Episode One, however, at the end, you will notice bodies scattered around a lake and one of them you need to look at is wearing a black leather jacket with ‘Plastic Toys’ written at the back. If you played 400 Days you will realise it is Roman from Shel’s story. It’s little things like that you need to keep an eye out for.

Lee's Advice

Lee’s Final Advice

Episode One did not disappoint. It was intense, emotional and at one point, cringe worthy, and it’s fair to say that just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for poor Clementine, they do.

Overall, The Walking Dead: Season Two definitely looks promising. It’s still a little too early to say, but if Season Two will be anything like Season One when it comes to twists and turns, tough decision making and strong narrative, I have no doubt it will sweep game of the year lists once again. And if Season Two does include the characters from 400 Days, and if the major decisions we made in Season One come into play, Season Two will take a turn for the even better.

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The Walking Dead: Season Two can be bought on Steam, PSN, Xbox Live, iOS App Store, or through the Telltale Games website.

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Platforms: PC/ Mac OS X/ PS3/ Xbox 360/ iOS

Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Rating: M (ESRB)
 
Review code provided by Telltale Games

Stephanie is an aspiring novelist who loves writing—both fiction and non-fiction—and enjoys editing. Having graduated from University studying Professional Writing and Editing, she continues to do what she loves most: writing novels, short stories and poetry, as well as writing and editing articles for the site and listening to her favourite band, Linkin Park. But apart from writing, there is one other primary passion of hers. Video games. From playing Monkey Island on Microsoft DOS, to Doom, Mario, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, her love for video games became a part of her life at a young age and they always will be.

Review

Stranger Things 3: The Game Review — Mindflayingly Average

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Stranger Things 3: The Game logo

The Stranger Things series has been a big success for Netflix. A love letter to ‘80s pop culture, with a focus on the science fiction and horror movies of the time, the show has been hugely popular, with the latest season screened on over 40 million accounts in its first four days. Accompanying the launch of the television season is Stranger Things 3: The Game. Developed by BonusXP Inc, which previously created Stranger Things: The Game for mobile devices, the game is an isometric brawler which competently retells the story of Stranger Things 3, but has little of its own to say. Mild spoilers for Stranger Things 3 ahead.  

The game opens one year after the events of Stranger Things season two. While trying to contact his camp girlfriend with a high-tech ham radio, Dustin overhears a strange recording spoken in Russian. Determined to figure out what it means, he teams up with Steve and his coworker Robin to try and decode the message. Meanwhile, strange occurrences have been happening around Hawkins, with rats devouring fertiliser and chemicals. Max’s brother Billy is looking decidedly unwell, thickly wrapped in jumpers while he works as a lifeguard. A tingle at the back of Will’s neck tells him the mindflayer’s presence still lingers around the town. As events progress, a group of average kids must save the world from an otherworldly monstrous threat once again.  

Stranger Things 3: The Game takes place in a semi-open world, with more locations unlocked as players progress. The player starts out in control of Mike and Lucas, who wield a bat and slingshot respectively. Two characters are always on screen, with the other person controlled by AI. Local co-op is available and seems to be the intended way to play—the AI for the second player is not very smart. When in single-player mode, the player can switch between the two characters on the fly, and any unlocked characters can be swapped to as well. The other characters unlock over the course of the story, with a total of 12 to choose from. Each character can attack and block and has a unique special move, such as Max’s healing hearts or Jonathan’s stunning camera flash. Special moves cost energy, which can be replenished by drinking New Coke or picked up from defeated enemies. With each character playing so differently, the game would benefit from restricting which characters can be used in each scenario, as finding a favourite combination and sticking to it is far too easy. This lack of restriction also caused some weird story occurrences, like Nancy wandering around the void or Hopper hanging out with Mike while he mopes about breaking up with Eleven.

Exploring Hawkins involves lots of switch puzzles, and using characters’ special abilities, like Dustin hacking into a locked door or Joyce cutting the lock off of a gate with her bolt cutters. The puzzles are generally straightforward, with the Russians inexplicably leaving clues in English for the player to find, but more complicated riddles can be found by wandering off the beaten track. The creepy deserted pizza place has some based on pi, and exploring optional rooms in the Russian base will reward the player with rare crafting items.

Crafting in Stranger Things 3: The Game is poorly implemented. Items can only be made at workbenches, which makes sense for complicated contraptions, but is annoying at other times (for example, having to retreat out of the pool area because Eleven needs to put duct tape on her swimming goggles). When looking in a store, no indication appears on what items are already in the player’s inventory. Apart from plot items, the player can also make trinkets, which improve the party’s statistics. A wide variety of trinkets are available, from improving a single character’s attack to increasing the health of the whole party. Finding the missing items to create a trinket is tricky due to the poor shopping interface, and the sparse placement of workbenches gives the player few chances to actually craft the items. Fortunately, fighting enemies is easy enough that crafting can mostly go ignored.

Combat is simple, for the most part, with the player smashing everything on screen to progress. Hawkins is absolutely infested with rats and Russians, with even the library packed to the brim with bad guys. Though the excessive numbers of similar enemies is normal in the brawling genre, more variety would have been appreciated. The late game Russians become more interesting, with knife throwers, chemical spills, and grenades, but the first three-quarters of the game consists of the same baddies over and over.

An exception to this repetition is the challenging boss battles, which are far tougher than the average gameplay. Bosses will need extra conditions to be met before they can be damaged, like switching lights on, dodging charge attacks, or keeping several baddies away from each other. Some work better than others—for example, one battle relied on keeping two boss creatures apart to prevent them from healing each other, which simply did not work in single player since the AI fighter closely follows the main character. Instead, defeating the boss required exploiting Nancy’s critical hit ability to do enough damage to kill the monsters before they could heal, a strategy that required some luck to succeed. Other boss encounters fared better, with the trial of constantly repairing Hopper’s cottage as slimy creatures crawl through the windows proving tough and intense.  A dodge button would be a useful addition to the movement options, since the bosses run so much faster than the player does. The game is also a bit stingy on providing a place to stock up before a boss battle, which should be included considering the spike in difficulty they represent. Still, these battles are where the game shines brightest, showing creativity and variety that is sorely lacking in other areas.

Stranger Things 3: The Game is faithful to a fault, feeling like a very detailed recap of the season. A few sidequests tell their own story, like doing chores for the creepy Granny Perkins or exploring the abandoned electronics store, but for the most part, the player will be re-enacting scenes from the television series, with a bit of extra rat murder and crafting thrown in. Clinging so closely means the story has nowhere exciting to go since the player has presumably already watched the season. If the player has not seen the show, that would be even worse, as it is a non-scary adaptation of a horror show that completely loses the tone. The occasional dialogue choice is thrown in, but the response makes no difference either way. Adding in some choices alongside possibilities of events going differently would make things far more engaging. 

A highlight of Stranger Things 3: The Game is the art direction, with some beautiful 16-bit recreations of the cast and environments. With the exception of Jonathan, who looks like his pointy-chinned cousin, the sprites are a good resemblance of the cast. The monsters are appropriately fleshy and gross, with the final boss, in particular, looking foreboding. Environments can get a bit repetitive, with one sprite for all the beds, one for all the cupboards, etcetera. Sprite laying issues do occur on occasion—the ashtrays all hover in front of the characters, for example. The chiptune recreation of the show’s music, however, is spot on, and converting the title theme into a Zelda-like solved puzzle jingle is impressive indeed.    

Stranger Things 3: The Game gameplay

Stranger Things 3: The Game is only for really big fans of the show. Even then, the title is hard to recommend since it is an inferior version of the television season. While the gameplay is not bad, it is too repetitive to be enjoyable on its own. The game would perhaps be best played just before season four comes out, as a novel way of recapping the previous season.   

OnlySP Review Score 2 Pass

Reviewed on PC. Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android devices.

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