The second season of The Walking Dead (game) has now concluded, so this seems like a good time to share some extremely spoiler-filled thoughts on it as a whole.
Maaaan, I really wanted to like this finale more than I did.
Let's start positive. I thought the first half of Season Two was great. I loved playing as Clementine. I loved the reintroduction of Kenny. I liked Sarita. I liked several of the new characters. I thought Carver was a fantastic villain. I think episode three was among the best the series has produced this far, and I think the good parts of the season as a whole easily stand along side Season One. Carver's death was especially brutal, and compelling.
Unfortunately, everything after that felt, just, aimless. Carver's death, in my opinion, would have made for a much more powerful season finale. If we had either stretched the Carver arc out over five episodes, or simply made two episodes up front which felt more aimless, and then ended with the Carver stuff, I think this would have been much more satisfying.
Don't get me wrong, The Walking Dead: Season Two wasn't a bad game. It just was so close to being a much better game, and that bums me out. Whereas The Walking Dead: Season One did a great job at hiding the seams of gameplay, and making it feel like you were really shaping the choices, even when you weren't, The Walking Dead: Season 2 just can't seem to distract from those seams quite as well.
To be fair, a lot of those problems probably come from following the first game. While they made a lot of really smart decisions (playing as Clementine was exactly what fans wanted, and it works brilliantly!), and this game will still probably wind up on my best-of list at the end of the year, a lot of the tricks they pulled in the first season (having to choose between two characters who lives and dies, killing off any characters after they had been "saved" so you don't have to account for diverging stories any more, and so on) just felt predictable by the end of this season, and it's that predictable feeling that will probably make The Walking Dead: Season Two wind up near the bottom of my end-of-year list, rather than near the top.
That final episode though, let's be honest, is what really needs to be spoken about here, and honestly I found it underwhelming. The finale episode of the first season (since it's impossible to talk about this finale without comparing it to the last one) made a smart choice by being really quite short, but filled with action, giving it the feeling of a frantic climax. Unfortunately, this episode really felt like a whimper until near the end. Luke's death (he might be savable if you try shooting rather than going to help him I don't know) was really the only major thing that happens for the first two thirds of the episode, save for the opening moments. It's a lot of walking, and a lot of talking, and that didn't give it the feeling of a finale to me at all.
Once the episode does pick up, it's better, mind you. I didn't expect Mike to try betraying the group with Arvo (and Bonnie, again, I'm not sure if she'll be there for everyone). It was a cool twist, unfortunately followed up by an extremely unnecessary "it was all just a dream lol no just kidding this was the dream" sequence which didn't add anything other than time and a Lee cameo.
Then the car crash happens, and the whole sequence where you're going through the blizzard also just felt... Underwhelming. I get that the weather is intense, but there were so few walkers in that sequence compared to, say, the start of episode four, that it just wasn't that compelling.
The final fight between Jane and Kenny was clearly the highlight of the episode. So much confusion, not really being sure whether you can trust Jane or not (probably not), I eventually chose to shoot Kenny, and I cannot overstate how effectively heartbreaking his death was, as he tells you that you made the right choice. Man. I think there's something in my eyes, hold on a minute.
Unfortunately, I didn't like the bit that followed quite as much. Jane actually did just stash the baby somewhere, either trying to leave him to die, or as she says "trying to show you what Kenny really was." Oh come on, of course I knew Kenny was off the rails, he's still my friend, and you're still a crazy person.
I was really bummed out by this, because I really liked Jane's character up to that point, and while it had been established that she was a loner who was only really sticking around because she had accidentally grown attached to Clem, that was still an unbelievably horrible thing to do.
That said, I did wind up "forgiving" her, and going together back to Carver's city. It's a terrible idea, I know, but don't worry, she'll die in the opening moments of The Walking Dead: Season Three so Telltale won't have to account for extra dialog.
I'm not saying I have the solution to that problem, only that it's a really tough problem to have, and simply killing off everyone who's been somehow tainted by player agency isn't really the best way to handle it.
Finally, the last scene, where the couple with their child try to get in. I let them in, because WHY NOT, EVERYONE ELSE IS DEAD, WE'VE GOT TO HAVE SOME CHARACTERS IN SEASON THREE, RIGHT? They'd probably just show up later on to kill you if you refused them, just like Arvo and that guy with the head-bag from Season One. Oh, just kidding, both of those people try to kill you any way.
Hey, they never did explain why Arvo was trying to stash the meds his sister needed in a trash can somewhere. Maybe that's explained on another route.
In any case, my feelings are basically this: I'm still looking forward to the third season so I can continue to see Clementine be awesome. I just hope they find better solutions to the problems that the series is running into as it continues to go on. The Walking Dead: Season Two was worth playing, I just wish it was the GOTY contender that the first game was.
This was originally posted to Whereinirant.com.