Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Vita, OUYA
Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games
Genre: Interactive Adventure Platform Played: PC
Episode Two is able to build on the strong ground work from the debut episode of Season Two provided, further developing the new elements introduced in the previous episode. In doing so, Telltale Games has been able to create one of the most intense, dramatic, and memorable episodes the series has ever seen.
A House Divided let’s us discover more back-story on the newly introduced characters from the previous episode, which allowed me to further relate to these individuals. Hearing their own personal tales in this post-apocalyptic world allowed each character to gain a new humanising element. Though their introduction may have left a sour taste with many, their actions can be understood, due to the nature of the biggest introduction to Season Two yet. Carver.
Played by Michael Madsen, Carver looks to be the central ‘villain’ of Season Two. Madsen does an excellent job at providing a confident, yet menacing performance as Carver. Every time Carver was on screen, I found myself feeling uneasy; his subdued performance made his demeanor more frightening and unpredictable. Carver’s menace comes from his mellow attitude and gravelly tone; he is used to being in control, and those who look to take that control away from him must deal with the consequences. The Walking Dead has provided many memorable villains throughout the expanded universe, and if Carver’s introduction is anything to go by, we may have just met one of the most formidable.
The addition of a strong prevalent main villain is something Telltale’s Walking Dead universe has never seen, and it adds a new dimension of intensity throughout the episode. Impressively, Telltale is able to balance the introduction of such a strong character alongside the character development of Clementine’s new group. Each piece of the puzzle Episode One introduced brings forth a new dimension, which can range from small moments like one character asking you to lie to your new group, to bigger moments that will no doubt shape the landscape of Season Two, going forward. These new dynamics make decisions even harder, since you don’t know how certain characters will react to your actions.
Most importantly, you don’t know how these characters will react to each other. There are many conflicts that will affect Clementine, which may not necessarily involve her. Being an eleven year old girl, Clementine is not able to control every situation, and within this unpredictability, a new dimension we never saw last season emerges. Lee had the physical power to keep people and the undead at bay; while Clementine lacks the physical presence to do either, she must use her smarts to outwit her opponents.
This heightened sense of vulnerability increases the tension in each action sequence, making each one have a new found sense of importance. Though most of these action sequences centre around mashing a button until you are safe, it adds a frenetic spike that balances out the process of the choose-your-own-adventure-styled dialog. Action definitely takes a back seat, allowing dialog between characters to be the main focus of Episode Two. This is welcomed, as some of the most intense moments actually come from the dialog themselves.
There were a handful of moments during A House Divided where I had no idea how certain characters would react to the conversation taking place. It left me on the edge of my seat almost half a dozen times throughout the duration of the episode. Alongside these intense moments was one of the strongest finales to any Walking Dead episode Telltale has released, leaving you speechless and unsure of what the future may hold.
The conclusion of A House Divided itself will be the same, no matter how you play the episode. However, who is sitting alongside you when the credits roll can be drastically different, depending on how you handle conversations and decisions throughout the experience. After finishing two playthroughs, I was shocked at how different some situations can become, simply because you decided to say one thing over another in a previous conversation. Usually, I can experience almost everything Telltale has to offer after two playthroughs, but A House Divided may take four or more in order to see every aspect of each situation. Depending on how you play, some situations will have some dramatic consequences that will leave you speechless.
Telltale Games has recently had an amazing run in the technical department, leaving the problems of Walking Dead Season One behind them. However. A House Divided suffers from some stuttering effects throughout the entire episode. These moments will see characters and items start shaking violently; the jittery effects happened during gameplay and cut scenes. It is quite an unusual problem. which was avoided on my first playthrough, yet the second experience was hindered by this issue making an appearance at least once every fifteen minutes.
A House Divided is the best gaming experience I have played this year, and perhaps one of the best experiences Telltale has ever delivered. It weaves a brilliant narrative that continues to surprise. as it provides some of the most unforgettable, drama filled moments of the series.
The introduction of Carver now provides a frightening set-up, going forward, one that could potentially turn the world of our characters upside down. even more than it already has. His calm and confident demeanor produced some of the most powerful moments the series has ever seen.
Though Season Two has barely reached its halfway point, A House Divided has been able to progress the plot dramatically, leaving me anxious to see how our characters will handle these fresh problems.
+ Huge replay value
+ Introduction of Carver
+ Dramatic moments
+ Intense Choices
– Technical issues