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September 10, 2014

The Walking Dead Season 2 Full Review


The sequel to the saddest game ever made has arrived! Details for every single episode inside...

Verdict: MA: Mature Gamers Only (For Potentially Upsetting Violence and Strong Language)

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Release Date: December 2013

Developer/Publisher: Telltale Games

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Ouya, iOS, Windows, OS X

Genre: Point and Click Adventure Game

Areas of Concern:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

(Due to amount of violence in the game, I have opted to single out the most intense moments for the sake of brevity. There are other gruesome scenes, but they are milder than those listed below.)

Episode 1:
 
--An animal is impaled on two spikes, blood pooling out beneath it and out of it's mouth as it shrieks in pain. It can have it's throat slit, which happens off-screen, and we hear it shriek briefly before dying (This scene may upset sensitive gamers).

--A woman pours disinfectant on her wound; she screams in pain as we see foam coming out of the wound. She proceeds to stitch up the wound, squealing in pain as she does so. Every single thread is shown in detail, down to the skin being pulled together. 

--A walker is impaled on a object, with a single intestine hanging out. It is then impaled in the head with a hammer a couple of times, with a bloody hole forming in it's head as we hear squishing. Eventually, it expires. 

-Later on, the girl does the same to another walker, and twists and turns the hammer around with squishing being heard in order to remove it.

--A girl hits a Walker on the head several times, with a crack being heard, blood spurting, and we eventually see his head torn open, the brain partially exposed very briefly.

--A Walker is decapitated by a machete; we see a little bit of blood as the head falls off.  

--A girl is bitten on the arm by a dog; we see that her arm is bloody, but later we get a close-up view of the wound and see torn skin and a large bloody cut.

--There are several death scenes if you fail; a girl can be bitten in the neck by a Walker or dog, we briefly see blood spray, and she falls to the ground.

Episode 2:

--A girl impales a Walker in the mouth with a machete, and she pushes it through it's head as it struggles and dies, with blood spraying.

-She impales a Walker in the face with a hammer, twists it free, breaking the Walker's jaw off, bloodlessly.

--A man is shot in the neck, with arterial blood squirting out continuously, gurgling being heard and lots of blood stains on his face and neck. 

--A man breaks another man's fingers by twisting them and we hear cracks as he screams in pain. We later hear him screaming horribly offscreen, implying that he's being tortured.

--A man is shot in close-up; we see blood spurt out and we see his head hit the ground, a bloody bullet hole staining his face. 

Episode 3:

--A man is severely beaten with a crowbar; players have the option of staying to witness it. The side of his face falls apart and exposes the bare eyeball. His eyeball is smacked out of his socket and his entire face becomes bloody, exposing the flesh underneath until his the face is entirely ripped off and only the blood and muscle underneath are shown.

--A man is beaten several times in the face with blood spurting out and a bloody bruise forming on the side of his head, blood splattering beneath him. We see afterwards that the side of his face is covered in blood and swollen.

--A man falls from a distance and hits the ground off-screen. We see afterwards that he fall on his head, a huge blood splatter is shown beneath him.

--A man is shot in the crotch; he screams in a very high-pitched voice and is eaten by Walkers off-screen, more screaming being heard and crunching.

--A woman's arm can be hacked off; we see the torn bone sticking out with blood squirting while she screams hysterically.

Episode 4:

--A woman can be chopped in the head with an ax; we see her head split open very briefly, a bloody wound shown with blood leaking out.

--A baby appears to be stillborn; we see it motionless. 

Episode 5:

--A character slices another character across the abdomen, blood spurting out. A character gouges another character's eye, blood squirting out and cries of pain being heard. One of them is shot in the chest and bleeds out slowly on the ground, a pool of blood shown. Another character is stabbed in the chest; we only hear the crunch, a scream and see the dead body afterwards. 

--A man is stabbed in the back of the head with a large knife; we see blood seep out of his mouth, he gurgles and turns around to reveal the knife stuck in his neck, blood squirting out of it and staining his neck. We see him struggle and choke for quite some time before he is shot in the head, with a blood burst.

--A man bangs against the bottom side of ice to try and break through to avoid drowning. We see him choking, convulsing and eventually dying. We see his drowned body very briefly, an expression of shock on his face.

Context of Violence: Shock Value. (Most of the violence is exaggerated, comic book style, with large splashes of blood, maimings, beatings, and decapitations for the, ahem, shock value.)

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--A man mentions that he has a "partner" in a way that denotes a same-sex relationship.

-Two people are shown together in a building. It's lightly implied that they had a sexual encounter. Later on, a man talks about how they were rolling around like "two teenagers" and a man says that he took her "offer" up because he wanted to "enjoy" something for a change. 

-A man mentions something about it lasting "ten minutes" and a man teases that he wouldn't last that long in these circumstances. A little girl can remark on it, pretending she knows what they are talking about. (She says they were busy with "kissing stuff".)

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Frequent Uses of F**k, S**t, D**k, B**ls, A*s, P**s, D**che, B**ch, B**t**d, C**p, H**l, D**n, and Turd.

--God and Jesus' names are used in vain.

Context of Language: Grittiness (The language is used to make the game feel more, ahem, gritty, by peppering the dialogue with F-words and S-bombs).

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--An angel ornament is shown as part of a Christmas tree.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--We see a still, which a man remarks is for "making booze". He later takes a long swig of whiskey, remarking how strong it is. We see him later after a lot more drinks, obviously drunk, throwing objects at a wall.

-We see a bag full of drug paraphernalia. The man who carried it acts very nervous and shaky, as if going through withdrawal. 

-A passing reference to "Mary Jane." (A slang for marijuana.)

-A girl can take a sip of whiskey before coughing in disgust.

-A couple of people drink from a bottle of rum for quite some time. 

--A man is shown smoking a cigarette. Later on, a woman is shown smoking a cigarette after losing someone.

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: Grittiness (The cigarette smoking and drinking add to the gritty nature of the game itself.)

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--The Walkers are grotesque cadeavers, who have missing limbs, torn skin, decaying skin, and sometimes weapons sticking out of them. 

-Several people smear themselves with Walker blood in order to slip past them. We see their clothing stained with lots of dark blood. 

-We see the wounded eye of a man; his eye is bloody and the skin around is red with cuts and bruises. This is shown in close-up for quite some time.

--A man makes a joke about food not being as good on "the way out", and a man makes a crude remark to two girls who just finished using the restroom: "Everything come out alright, girls?" 

-A baby throws up on itself, grey fluids being shown.

Scary Stuff:

--A few tense sequences when your character is chased by Walkers.

Emotionally Intense Scenes:

--Several, all of which won't be described here in order to avoid spoilers. Let's just say that you'll need a huge box of tissues in hand. A lot of the situations, events and deaths will make you cry, especially if you played the previous season.

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

It depends on the player. While you can be friendly and courteous, you can also act really snide and tough. Generally, the game forces you to make hard decisions and manipulate people in one way or another...or decide which person has to die and which one has to live.

Morality Type: Shades of Grey. (Players make morally ambiguous decisions with sometimes unfavourable outcomes.)

Review of Game:


Episode 1: So far, so good! While not nearing The Walking Dead Season One in quality just yet, Season Two excels with Clementine as the protagonist and adds just the right amount of heart-wrenching material to keep the "feels" coming.

I can't comment on gameplay at the moment, but let me say that the writing remains stellar as always, even if it has to resort to gore in order to keep you gripped. Seriously, one of the listed scenes really made me cringe, and weirdly, laugh at the same time.

Maybe Telltale deliberately inserted dark humour into the game, to provide some levity when it's needed most. Believe me, this is not the most upbeat game, so any light at the end of the tunnel is welcome!

Episode 2: To quote the legendary Ron Burgundy: "Well, that escalated quickly!" Episode 2 finally let the season find it's footing with a fast-paced and breathlessly dramatic episode which laid the groundwork for episodes to come.

We finally meet our villain for the season in the form of Carver, a gruff sheriff not unlike Rick Grimes from the original Comic Book and TV series.

Let's just say that the season already improves on one flaw of Season One, which was the lack of a clear antagonist. Yes, yes, Episode 5 did feature a villainous character, but he didn't really fit the archetype of an antagonist.

Here, Carver is much more clearly opposed to Clementine and her group's agenda. I won't spoil anymore of the plot for you, but let's just say the second episode restored my confidence in the sophomore season.

Sure, it lacks the emotion of the first season, but even if this season is half as good as the original, it will be one heck of a ride. 

Episode 3: Well, that escalated even quickly-er! A lot of things happened in this episode, be it surprising deaths, tense situations, gore, gore, and more gore, you name it! Telltale isn't pulling any punches this season, and that's a good thing.

The majority of this episode is focused in a warehouse as the group tries to come to terms with the new situation. This episode was basically a full adventure by itself, starting off by introducing characters who you instantly connect with and then...

Um, let's just say that the stakes are high in this episode. And the ending is a real surprise, with a certain character meeting an untimely demise. My jaw was nearly hanging on the floor with the brutality of it all.

And then, we're left with yet another cliffhanger, this time with even bigger stakes than before. Telltale is the master of the cliffhanger, leaving you just satisfied enough to be happy with what you got, but not happy enough to call it a day and never tune in for another episode.

In short, this episode feels like it could've been an entire movie by itself. It was epic, emotional, brutal and gut-wrenching all together. Most of all, it's already making me feel that the money I invested into was well worth it. And that's something I don't say very often.

Play it, you will not be disappointed!

Episode 4: Gosh, this game is just bleak with a capitol B. While this instalment might be called "filler" if you want to be picky, I still think it serves a valuable purpose in the overall storyline, even if I personally don't like the cliffhanger.

The characters are so well realised that it doesn't matter to me anyway. I only want to see what happens to the characters. This is what The Walking Dead is all about, after all; giving us people we care about and putting them through hell.

And good heavens, do the characters go through hell! Clementine is tested more than any child should ever be and the game seemed to go to even more shocking levels of brutality near the end, but thankfully there are some places where even this series won't go.

All in all, this episode doesn't even begin to live up to the heights of Episode 3 in terms of a complete story arc, but it still manages to make you care enough to tune in for the final episode. And that's all I really need. 

Episode 5: And so, the last episode of the sophomore Telltale Walking Dead season has been released. While not quite reaching the emotional heights of the previous season, this episode proves that it doesn't really matter with an even better final episode than the previous round.

Your choices make a huge impact here. Worst of all, your choices are not black and white in the least bit, it's all firmly in the "grey" zone. The big choice of the episode is sure to leave you conflicted, especially after replaying the episode and knowing what really happened.

A flashback to the previous season, showcasing a much simpler life compared to this one, is sure to leave you in tears. The passing references to characters from the previous season are just as heartbreaking, making you miss those characters who you spent so many hours with, only to see them brutally massacred in front of you.

I know, I know, I said that the second season doesn't quite reach the emotional heights of the first season and what I'm saying now might seem like a contradiction. Season Two *just* manages to fall short of Season One's heartbreak factor.

But bear in mind, The Walking Dead Season One may just be the saddest game of all time, so that does not mean that Season Two fails in the emotional department by ANY chance. A brilliant conclusion to a brilliant season. I'm very excited to see where Telltale takes us from here. We all had our doubts, but thankfully they proved us oh-so-wrong!

Quality Verdict: Great (B+)

While suffering from a messy story arc, The Walking Dead still manages to surpass it's first season in terms of horrifying situations, gut-wrenching choices and incredibly vivid characters, making for an unforgettable and highly recommended experience.

Conclusion:


Straight off the bat, The Walking Dead is not shy when it comes to brutality. In fact, it has the coldest depictions of horrifying situations that you can find across any medium. Anything that could be upsetting is not avoided.

Moving past the physical violence, it should be noted The Walking Dead is emotionally draining as well, making you care about characters and reducing you to a sobbing wreck when it kills them off mercilessly.

As such, I urge caution: if you're sensitive, don't play this game. If you love animals and hate any depiction of them getting hurt, as I do, then you may not want to play the game. If you are turned off by bad language, stay away as well.

And last, but certainly not least, avoid this game if you want a light, upbeat and cheerful experience. This is certainly NOT what you're looking for.

For the rest of you, I would say this is a definite Mature Gamers Only... 

The Preacher: I have to shake my head when people object to stuff like this. Sure, it may not be pleasant, but heck, is ignoring horrible situations going to eliminate them from our lives? Exactly. So, if you want to get out of your comfort zone, play this. And when you're done, be thankful for what you have, because things could be a WHOLE lot worse....

Trent: Uhhh, well, okay. You have a good point. But this game does not offer a deep exploration of what traumatic situations mean, it offers entertainment. Lip-licking depictions of blood and gore are cheap ways of hooking players. Actual maturity is one thing the industry really needs. And you won't find it here.

Not in huge supplies, I mean.... 

Verdict: 18+


For Potentially Upsetting Violence and Strong Language.


Outro:




And there you go! It's been a long journey to here, one that I thoroughly enjoyed from the beginning to the end. I hope you guys liked it just as much as I did and found it highly informative as well. God bless!

What do you think? How was Season Two in your opinion? Did it surpass Season One totally, partially or not at all?

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