Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Available on: Mobile, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewer’s note: I played the Xbox 360 version of this game. There may be differences between versions.
The Walking Dead Season 2 started with a bit of a road bump, a weak episode from a series we generally expected to see nothing but strength from. Episode 2 has a lot on its shoulders and has to follow up with something much stronger. Good news: it doesn’t just succeed. It passes with flying colors.
Taking place right where All That Remains left off, A House Divided wastes no time in getting into its central story arc. With the group being threaten by new central antagonist Carver they decide to flee up north to where they’ve heard rumor of a safe haven for survivors. Simple enough, but it’s the journey that counts the most, and how each character shapes up along the way. Luke starts to feel like he’s becoming a younger version of Lee, which is always a welcome addition. But more important than that is the other characters and how they change. Nick and Rebecca, both of whom suffered in episode 1 by having very one note personalities, have had their personalities greatly expanded here. Both of them have received massive improvements and feel much more like real characters. Background characters Carlos, Alvin, and Sarah also all step into the foreground, each of them adding more to the cast of survivors. While I don’t want to reveal some of the events that happen in the latter half of the episode, many of the decisions that you made in Season 1 will come up. This will also be the first time you see choices from 400 Days come up as well, which is a nice bonus for people who played through that.
The biggest thing that stuck out to me in the story has to be Carver. Carver is an absolutely terrifying antagonist, giving you a twinge of sympathy for him as he seems to have something to lose and is just trying to protect his people, but who also is willing to do everything he can to keep them together. The decisions you make around him will effect the lives and well being of your own party, and every time he’s on the screen you just know something bad is going to happen. He’s so effective that he could easily carry the episode on his own.
It’s not just the story that received massive improvements. While A House Divided plays similar to the last episode, there have been small improvements and tweaks that help it along. The most important is that all quick time events and fight scenes now work properly. Gone is the non-reactive commands that often wouldn’t accept that I was hitting buttons. The time limit to enter the commands is just long enough where you can easily get them, but not too long where it isn’t challenging. There’s also less fights than in the first episode so even if you’re not a fan of the action scenes then you won’t have to deal with them as often. Thankfully they’re spaced apart just as much as they need to be, never letting the action drag on while never letting you go too long without something.
But perhaps most important in A House Divided is your actions. Each and every single choice and decision you’ll be making here has consequences that you’ll likely be seeing play out in the future episodes. The final scenario sees you making some tough decisions that could impact the lives of several of the group’s members. You have to think ahead to possible outcomes for so many different actions, and each one is expertly written. There’s never a dull moment in A House Divided and that’s what makes it so brilliant. Season 2 may have gotten off to a rocky start but this is finally the content fans were hoping for. Now that Season 2 is in the full swing of things I can safely say that I am hooked onto Clementine’s story and I can’t wait for the next episode.