Walking Dead: The Game – Season 2

Developer:  Telltale Games
Download:  Get on iTunes
Official link: The Walking Dead Season 2 Official Site
Price: Free (in-app purchases available)

As a huge fan of zombies and as someone who waits with crossed fingers for a post-apocalyptic world of his own, I want to declare Walking Dead: The Game – Season 2 not only the greatest game of all time but also assign it each of the ranks from one through ten on the list of the best iPad games ever created. However… I also need to be objective. While this game absolutely delivers on what’s most important (the story and the characters), the gameplay may frustrate you to the point of pulling you out of this gripping tale.

First of all, this game’s title correctly implies that there was a Season 1. However, this season’s story can stand on its own, so it’s not necessary to have played the first game. It is important to know, though, that if you’re at all interested in Season 1, you should play that before starting Season 2 as it begins with a recap of all the important plot points from the previous game. (Talk about spoilers!) Furthermore, the choices you made in the first season can affect events in the second season. Thus, if you’re looking for a full, continuous experience, go ahead and start at the very beginning.

Whichever you decide, you’re in for a huge treat. I really don’t want any of my complaints to keep you from trying this game because the story is excellent, and the game does a wonderful job drawing you into its world. The music is superb and greatly enhances the emotion and tension in each scene. The sound effects make you feel like you’re much more than an observer and may even cause you to look over your own shoulder. The voice actors help bring everyone to life. The artwork is gritty and feels very representative of the violent world. And, oh yeah, Clementine is awesome.

Who’s Clementine? (Clementine will remember that you asked that question and that you ever doubted her awesomeness.)

Clementine is the main character that you play as in the story. She is one tough little girl, a true survivor of both zombies and evil people. She’s instantly likeable, loveable, and admirable. All the difficult situations she has to go through will wrench your heart in all directions. You’ll be rooting for her the whole time and will never want the story to end.

This game is more like an interactive movie. In various scenes, you’re given dialog options for how you want Clementine to respond. Some of these moments end up being critical plot points while others ultimately have little impact on the overall story. There are also moments where other characters will “remember what you said,” and these choices will have an effect on scenes much later on in the story. Thus, there’s ultimately some replay value once you’ve finished the game because you can go back and see how different choices change the story.

You’ll also have to be ready for various quick-time events that will test your reaction speed. These involve furiously tapping the screen to keep a zombie at bay or swiping in different directions to dodge attackers. You might also have to quickly select an item on the screen to fight back. (Hint: Zombies are weak to hammers!)

In less intense moments, you’ll be looking for white circles that indicate things in the environment that you can interact with. You can examine objects and look in windows and behind doors. Sometimes you’ll find items that you need in order to solve simple puzzles.

If all that’s fine, then what’s so bad about the gameplay? Well, it’s the fact that there’s no camera control, and this makes moving around rather awkward. This is typically irrelevant because most scenes take place in contained areas where movement isn’t that important.  However, when you’re in a huge area (like a giant house) with lots of places to search, and you can’t even see the place that you must reach in order to progress the story, it’s incredibly frustrating to have no camera control. I searched and searched and searched again. I revisited every room twice. I reset the game thinking maybe it had glitched.  And then I did all the searching one more time. I finally realized that a dark corner that was hard to navigate to ultimately led to a staircase and a completely new floor. Ugh.

That was horribly irritating, but I pressed on. The rest of the episode was so wonderfully intense that it made up for this bad experience. Again, the story and the characters are so compelling that they make up for any annoyances you may encounter with the controls. This episode ended on a cliffhanger that left me craving more. (There are 4 more episodes; each one costs $4.99, or the whole set is $14.99.)

If you like the Walking Dead, download this game right now. If you like zombies, download this game right now. If you only like the cute zombies in Plants vs. Zombies, do not download this right now. You’ll be terrified out of your mind. But if you can handle an intense storyline with gruesome zombies and excellent characters, get ready for a wild ride in one of the best free games for iPad, zombie-related or otherwise.

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