Game Review: The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2: A House Divided (X-Box 360)

What a week it’s been for my personal taste in video games. When I was told South Park: The Stick of Truth was coming out I told myself “there’s probably nothing that’s going to pry me off that game when I have the spare time.”  Then Telltale hit us with Episode 2 of the 2nd Season of their hit Walking Dead game – a long-awaited title that Telltale hurt all our feelings by not releasing back in February due to their ridiculous new backlog of episodic games (Telltale will be bringing us Borderlands and Game of Thrones in addition to the load they are carrying between The Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us).

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The way the first episode of the new Walking Dead season played out was a bit slow for some “unsatisfied” gamers who claimed that there wasn’t enough emotion in the inaugural episode, but introduced a new group, and scenes for the next episode left us hanging as Clementine utters the words “I thought you were dead.”  The anticipation was at a fever pitch for the next installment and for the few hours of content it provides suddenly you find yourself thrown into a whole new set of decisions, consequences and mental/emotional overhaul. 

By the way if you haven’t played Season 1 of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, I highly recommend two things:  first off – pick it up, which you can either do digitally for the system of your choosing, or you simply grab a copy of the game via Amazon, using either the giant advert for the game to the right of this paragraph, or by clicking HERE to get it on the system of your choosing if you’re not an X-Box 360 gamer like I am – either way buying through here helps us out, so go do it.  Secondly if you haven’t played the first season, hit the back button because I can’t guarantee there won’t be spoilers for those who haven’t at least played the first game season yet.

"A man was here looking for you." 

"A man was here looking for you." 

Immediately, our heroine, Clementine can find herself in an eerily familiar scenario to her final moments with Lee (depending on your previous choices), although not as tearful a goodbye, there are still some tender moments.  You now go on to really learn a bit more about all of the characters in the new group and some of them flesh out more realistically and complex than the characters in the first season.  Whereas Rebecca was well on the path of being this season’s “Larry” (and well on her way to making me want to bust her head in with a salt lick), now we get to see more of her character and that there might just be a human being (whether you choose to let the earlier transgressions slide, or hold a grudge is yours).  We get similar situations with Carlos and his daughter, and Luke and Nick as well.  But this is the point where people may take very divergent paths with their decisions.  I often choose to play Clementine as wary and on guard of everyone, reflecting choices I made in teaching her about this new apocalyptic era as Lee.  Choices start becoming much more varied, and you can choose to be somewhat naïve, or brutally honest.  I for one prefer brutal honesty.

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Eventually, yes, you get a major plot twist with a returning character from season 1 believed to be dead, and this is where the heart-strings get tugged on because it’s just too damn emotional not to get a little misty-eyed at a reunion of sorts – however, this is the zombie apocalypse we are talking about and is the person you knew the person you know now?  These choices will be presented to you throughout Episode 2.  You also get presented with our new primary antagonist, Carver (who is also voiced by Hollywood actor Michael Madsen of Reservoir Dogs & Kill Bill fame), who was briefly mentioned during the first episode.  However, once again the choice is yours as to whether or not Carver is actually misunderstood or if he’s a Governor-level type of villain set in some very evil ways.  Also interesting in this episode is that we’re slowly starting to see how our 400 Days actions and decisions effected those characters as one of them makes a re-emergence here.  Suddenly you realize that just because you played as characters from 400 Days doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be on your side.  In fact you’re going to hear some things from them that you know are bold-face lies.  But will you react like the “omnipotent entity from the outside looking in” that you are, or will you react realistically?  Or are those things one and the same?  The drama of this episode culminates into a zombie attack and a bit of a stand-off with other survivors that can see you determine the life or death of not one but several characters going into the third episode.  This is the type of episode of the series that when you’re done playing it you’re going to sit there, stare at the credits and the title screen and wonder if you should replay it again and do it differently.  You’re going to have quite a few moments standing in the crossroads wondering what you could have done differently – and I loved every second.

Michael Madsen voices "Carver," a man who may or may not be Telltale's answer to "The Governor."

Michael Madsen voices "Carver," a man who may or may not be Telltale's answer to "The Governor."

Telltale games promises the wait between Episode 2 and 3 will not be near as long as the wait between Episodes 1 and 2.  Here’s hoping they stick to that promise because I’m anxious not only to see the consequences of my actions but also what new choices I’ll be faced with as a result of them. 

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Ultimately I love what is being done with the Walking Dead here – a universe that has much more drama and personal impact than the television series due to the level of interaction we are given.  It’s the type of thing that when you are done making the choices you make you actually have moments of self-doubt wondering if you are in fact an asshole for the decisions you made.  Oh well – it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve spent $10-20 to feel like an asshole.  Still, check this one out.  You won’t be disappointed.