The Walking Dead: Season 2 starts up this month, once again, courtesy of Telltale Games. The highly anticipated sequel to their amazing first season brings with it high expectations. For many, it was not only last year's game of the year, but also a revelation for both the company, and the adventure game genre as a whole. Heading into The Walking Dead, Telltale was fast becoming a self-derivative studio, turning out titles that, while technically sound, weren't much different from each other. After the colossal disappointment that was Jurassic Park, they managed to rebound slightly with Back To The Future, but the writing was on the wall--it was time for Telltale to evolve, and try something new.
That something new was a cinematic brand of storytelling in games that we had rarely seen previously. They experimented slightly with the format in Jurassic Park, and it was clear they were drawing on elements from David Cage's games (Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, Beyond). But, with The Walking Dead, Telltale succeeded where they previously failed, and where David Cage has continually fallen short; they made you genuinely care about the characters. This attachment to the characters is the top thing I would like to see carried over into season 2, and I have no doubt Telltale will pull that off with no problem at all. On the other hand, if there was one sour note through the first season, it was the shooting mechanics. For season 2, I really hope Telltale will either drastically improve them, or eliminate them all together. When I think back on the game, it's the character interactions and terrible in-the-moment life or death decisions I had to make that I remember--not the shooting sections.
So, can Telltale keep up the quality heading into Season 2? It's a high bar they've set for themselves, and there's concern since they're also going to be running The Wolf Among Us at the same time. Can a small studio put out two games at the same time, and maintain a certain level of quality for both? Not only that, but will Season 2 just be more of the same? The short development time, and the fact that they're publishing two titles at once means they can't have had all that much time to really think about ways to innovate the formula going into season 2. If this ends up being the case, they might be able to get away with it this time, but for Season 3, Telltale is really going to have to step back and figure out ways they can push the game forward in new and fresh ways.
Last but not least, how will Clementine in the lead affect the game? In a bold move, Telltale is no longer having you play as an adult protagonist looking over a young child--now you are the young child. If everything was a threat in the world the first time around, it's doubly so now. It's going to be interesting to see how that slight, yet important, shift affects game play, and the way the story rolls out.
One thing is for sure--The Walking Dead: Season 2 is one of the most anticipated games coming out in the near future, and it's perhaps the best way possible to close out what has been an amazing year for games. Here's hoping they can avoid a sophomore slump, and continue the high level of quality they established with season 1.