Playing through The Walking Dead, I often forget the Clementine, the player character, is a little girl. That seems pretty absurd considering it’s a third person game and we’re always looking at her, but I do anyway. Quite regularly, in point of fact. That’s only possible because of the richness of the character and her stoic willingness to doing whatever it takes to survive and keep her friends alive.
What’s funny is that I’m not the only one this happens with. Even the other characters in the story – especially Kenny – count on Clementine to do every dirty job that comes up. Again, this comes from her unshakeable ability to function despite unthinkable pressures. I was really happy to see The Walking Dead address this, since it’s one of those ironclad gaming conventions that really doesn’t make any sense.
Don’t get me wrong, having the protagonist do pretty much everything of interest makes sense from a gaming standpoint, but it’s outright ridiculous when viewed through a narrative lens. The Walking Dead, and other Telltale games are about the story foremost. Gaming elements help with immersion and make the story more dynamic, but the narrative is paramount to the experience.
So how did this come up? Well, as per usually, the group finds themselves in a tight spot, and rely heavily on Clementine to pick up all the slack. Finally, after Kenny goes back to that well one time too many, he gets called on it, and it’s my personal high point of the episode.
And that’s saying something, because a heck of a lot happens in “In Harms Way”. At the end of the previous episode, our heroes were being dragged back to Carver’s camp to face god-knows-what. When they arrive, it’s every bit as brutal as it appears, although Carver and his cronies constantly dangle the opportunity to be welcomed into the fold. Whether this is a genuine offer, or simply a ploy to keep everyone working and not asking questions is unknown. But you can probably bet on the latter.
With that as the backdrop, the game really hits its stride. There are a lot of great segments throughout the story, with plenty of intrigue, violence, and a liberal does of zombies for good measure.
This has probably been the most focused episode of The Walking Dead Season Two, which has it’s pluses and minuses. The story has never been stronger. On the other hand, it seems like there’s less to do when it comes to exploration and game play. Telltale, as always, strikes a pretty good balance, but I can’t help but feel the balance was slightly off this time around. Not enough to ruin the experience by any means, but just enough to notice.
That said, The Walking Dead continues to be an excellent narrative and gaming experience, with well drawn characters and difficult moral decisions. I can’t wait for the next installment.
Slowly Clementine becomes more and more of a bad ass. Her organic badassery is what makes her so cool. She’s actually one hell of a child and female character that wasn’t done wrong.
I completely agree, sir.
What I really like about the game is that, playing Clementine after Lee, completely changed my behavior and the choices I make.
Playing the “feeling responsible Lee” who wants to protect Clem at all cost, is a different experience as playing the “childish yet getting tougher” Clementine making choices for herself (mostly in the 1st 2 episode of season 2).
Interesting how a same game can make you play different ways depending on the character you get to control.
You know, I never really thought about it that way, but that’s an excellent point. Really shows the versatility of the game and the writing, doesn’t it?
I realized that back in the previous episode, 1st time clem and carver meet in the cabine.
Since then I can’t stop thinking “I wouldn’t have done that if I was playing Lee”. Never experienced that in others video game so far. Great experience!
That’s a perfect example. I loved that scene. One of the strongest in the game so far.
One of the most major changes that I’ve noticed is that I’ve become quick to judge. Right off the bat, I hated Carver, and wanted to kill him. I know this seems evil, but he was obviously a threat, and I’m so sick of being the victim, that I don’t want to risk anymore lives for a chance at peace. The next episode seems like there isn’t as much Human vs Human conflict, so hopefully I’ll be a bit cooled off by then. 🙂