Picking up in the midst of things, after the incredible climactic moments of the previous episode, The Walking Dead Season Two has really hit its stride. It’s a stride which continues for the first section of Amid the Ruins, but one which soon calms down, and you’ll find yourself in a more subdued adventure game for a while.
It’s a bit of a different pace from before, but there are still some scenes which soon take things up a notch again – mainly through the use of the Walkers themselves – and this carries on through the episode, as you’ll head to different locales, meeting foes along your way. When the episode does move away from this structure it’s at its best, and thankfully the second half is far more exciting than the first, with some of the best scenes in The Walking Dead game’s history.
Choices feel a lot more impactful this time. It’ll still reach a natural conclusion, with many pre-determined options, but there are some decisions that feel as though they actually matter. Unfortunately, many of these are rather binary in their design though they do work well to leave you wondering whether you did the right thing or not.
For example – minimal spoilers here – one choice involves either you or an outsider in a tussle over some medicine. You can take the medicine or leave it, though no one in the situation seems to think of splitting it 50/50. I mean, it’s medicine in a bottle; it’s not a singular object. That might seem like a rather pedantic complaint, but it’s hard to make a choice between dialogue options when the thing you would do isn’t there.
The way this decision – and the others – tie into each other is achieved well, at least. There’s some great payoff and real lessons to be learned here, though that may mean a slight shift in some characterisation, to the point where two characters feel just a bit off. Nothing huge or plot-destroying, but enough to annoy you a little bit.
Although the entire cast still isn’t as good as the gang in the first season, some characters who may have blended in with the growing group in previous instalments manage to shine in this episode; there are some real surprising moments from a few of the supporting cast that even outdo the characters you know and love.
Clementine, as the protagonist, is naturally the focus here, and she proves herself as one of the strongest female characters in gaming right now. Everything falls on her once again, with “if only there were someone small enough…” moments permeating the series, but it feels natural enough that people would rely on Clem. Despite being small, she could be as close to a well-rounded leader as the group can find.
The second half (or more particularly, the last third) of the episode is absolutely incredible. It takes everything which makes The Walking Dead good: dread, hope (or lack of thereof), humanity, fear, and pure survival, and sets two scenes which are both horrible and brilliant at the same time. It redeems itself an incredible amount, with some tough choices and a superbly woven plot.
Season Two of The Walking Dead Game still isn’t as good as the first season: the characters aren’t quite as interesting, the plot could be better, and there are moments which have a sense of repetition to them. But this is still one of episodic gaming’s finest shows, and Amid the Ruins is a great example of how it should be done, building tension throughout and following that up with an extremely strong final third, and some shocking final moments. We’re in for a superb finale if it keeps this up.
Version tested: PC