If your path is predestined by the game gods (devs), does that mean that your choices don’t matter? Or does that mean that they matter more than ever, because how you get there is more important than where you end up?
I’m kind of feeling that Telltale Games’ philosophy is all about the latter, especially having played through the third episode of The Walking Dead Season 2. Like pretty much every episode in the series so far, it’s unrelentingly grim, this time throwing Clementine’s group into a horrible situation in the midst of another horrible situation.
The sociopath leader Carver has finally caught up and captured the group, partially because he couldn’t abide their escape from his fortress and mostly because Rebecca is pregnant with (probably) his child. Carver is undoubtably one of the most chilling villains that this series has produced to date, as he’s got that mix of genial charm that lulls you into false security before he shows how much of a remorseless killer, torturer, and all-around jerk.
Carver takes the group back to his HQ at Howe’s Hardware, a place that would actually be a great hideout from the zombie epidemic if it wasn’t for the horrible concentration camp atmosphere. There’s little doubt or debate among the group that they must escape once more, the only question is how to do it and how to survive until that moment arrives.
Clementine continues to be a very different type of protagonist. Her youth makes it hard for the grown-ups to always take her at face value, but she’s got sneaking around skills that are invaluable as well as some decent combat moves. I just feel bad that she can’t ever seem to get a break, being thrust among people that aren’t too stable or trustworthy (Kenny, you got anger issues, dude) and coming up against even worse folks. One would think that a worldwide disaster like this would get people to band together for survival and be more in a helpful than destructive mood, but oh well.
It wasn’t hard to slip into Clem’s head for this episode. I played her as quietly simmering with anger. She’s had it with the way everyone’s treating each other and her. In most dialogue exchanges, particularly with Carver, Reggie, and Bonnie, she didn’t say anything at all, just looked evil dead in the eye and waited for her chance.
The big choices here aren’t terribly big nor were they agonizing to choose between. There was one tacked on at the end that indicated that Clem could be going down the same path that Carver did, but even though the game wants me to think so, I’m not buying it. Clem wants justice. She wants safety and freedom and family. And she’s bone-weary about all of these things being taken away from her time and again.
One of the best new characters in this episode was Jane, a woman of few words and great abilities. You could tell from the get-go that she had an unbowed spirit and street smarts, and her shining moment at the end showed me that she’s got great potential as an ally. Reminds me a lot of Molly, to be honest.
I’m more than a little concerned where the game is going from here. I wish everyone could just settle down and live, but that wouldn’t be much of a game, would it? So they’re on the move once again, with one major threat vanquished but who knows how many to come.