I sat there, looking at the two tables full of my friends eating. The thing is, there was a clear rift between the two parties at the two tables. A sort of invisible divide between them. I knew it, and they knew it. But there I was, holding my dinner plate of beans and peaches, watching them both gesture for me to come sit with them. Up to this point, there have been moments when I have literally had to choose between which of my friends lived and which ones died an awful, violent death. Hell, in former episodes, I even had to put a bullet in the head of a child, and had mistakenly killed a woman I thought may have been a walker (but wasn’t).
Even with those things considered, picking who I would sit and eat with and who I would alienate proved to be the hardest choice I have had to make yet in a Walking Dead game. That, my friends, is why this series is one of the best series in gaming right now, and EASILY trumps the show and comic it is based on. This is my unofficial (spoiler free) review of Telltale’s Walking Dead game, season two, episode two. Aptly named, A House Divided. Keep in mind, this (sort of) review (sort of dialogue) will be very vague about plot points and specifics, as the experience of the narrative is most of what makes this game so great, and I refuse to risk ruining any nuance of that for you guys. Also, the game plays out very differently for everyone, as decisions you make dictate the story, and we may not have made the same decisions up to this point.
I hate when Jehovah’s Witnesses are this aggressive.
From the opening scene where you are left home alone and “someone” shows up, to the final moments when you realize you are at the mercy of a situation that will most likely play out horribly, this chapter of the Walking Dead game is about as good as gaming gets, no joke. First of all, the above mentioned plot point in the intro is no spoiler. I mentioned nothing about who may be sitting where. I just simply wanted to point out that one of the more simplistic decisions I have ever had to make in this unnerving but brilliant series was also one of the most difficult, even though I knew it would not end in the immediate death of a friend. At this point in the series, I knew how heavy each decision was, and the miles of consequences that came long after I made each one. That, my friends, is why the above decision was so brutal for me. Because I knew that, no matter what, I was going to screw up the dynamic of the group in some way, no matter which table I chose. Keep in mind, this is one decision in a chapter of this game, and some people may see it as one of the easier ones. Thing is, if you have not played, you have no idea who is at the two tables. Trust me when I say, it is a game changer. I wont spoil it for anyone, but I can bet you stand there as long as I did as Clementine. It is not a timed decision (which is rare for this game), and I swear, my version of Clem stood between those tables for about ten minutes in real time. Alas, I am getting ahead of myself.
Good to see Courtney Love is still getting work.
Season two, episode two of The Walking Dead is easily and hands down the best chapter in the entirety of this story. Though the game in its entirety is filled to the brim with tough decisions, from start to finish, no chapter yet throws the type of decisions that this chapter does. It is no longer as simple as who lives and who dies, or which person you help and which person you betray. There are decisions in this chapter that call for morals. Do you lie to someone who you actually respect to help keep safe? Do you betray old bonds that you took games establishing in order to preserve the group? Also, for the first time in the new season, this entry actually asks you, how well do you know this group you are with this season? Do you trust them? SHOULD you trust them? The heaviness of season two easily trumps season one because you are no longer an adult trying to keep a child alive. Now, YOU are the child, trying to keep yourself alive. It makes every decision feel that much heavier, and makes every moment of the game feel dire and precarious. While I was worried about Lee in season one, he was a grown ass and very capable man. It is quite different when you are in control of Clementine this season. Suddenly, you are fragile in a world where you cannot afford to be.
Here kid, wanna try some booze? Yes, they even throw that at you.
This is also the point where I want to talk about Carver a bit. If you have played season two up to this point, he is a name you have heard quite a bit. Well, I can say, Carver finally makes an appearance this chapter, and dude is seriously scary. The fine print is that he seems to be the way he is specifically because of the group you now find yourself with. From the pregnant Rebecca to the somewhat stupid Nick, there are things you will learn about your cohorts this trip that will change the way you see the group you are with. You knew that you didn’t know much about them, but things are revealed the prove you knew next to nothing.
I can also openly admit that this episode of The Walking Dead game was the first one where I had a moment where I yelped for joy. I will not ruin it here, but a game that normally has us sobbing in our living rooms finally gives us one genuine moment of sweetness, and to yell out in happiness and not in terror or sadness from this game was a really nice moment, and showed us that Telltale truly have the Walking Dead universe locked down in ways that the two other mediums just cannot touch.
Even something as simple as whether or not to take a picture in this game is a harrowing decision that you know will have unforeseen consequences.
So, do you need to play The Walking Dead, season two, episode two: A House Divided? Holy shit, yes. Yes you do. Just prepare to walk away from it feeling about as shaken up as a game can make you feel. Oh, and just wait until you are standing between the two tables, figuring out who to eat with. Never has such a simple decision tormented me so badly.
5 out of 5