The penultimate episode in the second season of Telltale’s storied adventure game series based on The Walking Dead comics has finally been unleashed, threatening to pull at our heartstrings again and instill a sense of dread in all of us. Clementine’s journey has been a bit disjointed and incredibly harsh, but what else would one expect from the bleak world of The Walking Dead?

[Spoilers for Season Two of The Walking Dead lie ahead]

The episode starts exactly where we left off, with Clementine deciding whether or not to hack off Sarita’s arm after she’d been bitten by a walker in the herd headed towards Carver’s complex. In my playthrough, I decided to become the human CuisinArts and lopped off the arm in the hopes of stopping the infection, a choice I thought was pretty sound. But this is The Walking Dead, so you might think you’re doing something right -- only to have it blow up in your face. Sarita dies, Kenny gets Kenny’s own brand of pissed and everything goes wrong as the group is split up.

Telltale Games

This opening makes for a very intense start to the episode, tasking you with moving through the herd undetected and keeping up with the wild card, Jane. It seems as if the focus of the entire episode is on Clem’s interactions with this tough-as-nails survivor of the wasteland. Through a series of interactive sequences, she teaches Clem how she’s survived by always checking to see if a walker is still alive, using a weapon that can be pulled out of a walker’s flesh easily, how to scavenge and how to tell if a walker is fresh. These sequences are the most involved I ever remember any interaction in the season being. Having to scope out a situation and plan out my moves felt great, especially because it gave me the feeling like I was using what Jane taught Clem and acted them out accordingly. It was like, “Yeah. My girl’s listening to you, you ultra-tough weirdo!”

For a few beautiful moments, it’s as if Clem has gained another mentor like Lee. But unlike Lee, Jane’s a bit of a loose cannon who can be incredibly unpredictable, especially since she’s a staunch believer in traveling alone. The majority of my game experience was spent trying to make choices that I thought would convince Jane to stick around. She was just that cool of a character.

Telltale Games

But other than the fun with Clem and Jane, most of the episode was a snoozer. It’s painfully obvious at this stage in the series, almost nothing can touch the sense of poignancy, dread and humanizing moments that were present throughout all of Season One. Lee as a main character also seemed infinitely more compelling since his goal was clear: help Clementine survive and get the tools she needs to make it in the world. With Clem, the motivations are muddier. Sure, she needs to survive and find a group to call home, but there’s no overarching need to see anything through like Lee’s need to keep her safe.

Telltale Games

While the graphics have gotten better (looking at you, shaders), and the voice acting more diverse with all of the different characters being thrown into the mix, thus far the season has felt like it lacked a certain cohesive quality that would make for a more solid gaming experiencing. In fact, the introduction of so many characters as if it were a revolving door of protagonists and antagonists do little to get us really caring about the characters since they each all receive very little screentime. That’s why seeing so much of Jane and hearing her backstories was the best part of the episode, which is a shame considering the fact that she seems like she doesn’t want to stick around.

Telltale Games

Ultimately, it feels as if they’ve stuck a whole bunch of subplots into one episode and nothing really gets us too invested. There’s the oncoming arrival of the baby, Kenny’s mood, Jane’s tutelage and her lessons about staying away from people and then you get to throw in a few strangers along the way and you’ve got a recipe for a disjointed experience. I was hoping for more, being that this episode leads up to the final episode of the season, but now I’m just a bit more confused. Where’s the big bad? What’s the group’s end game? What do the past few experiences mean for Clem’s growth? I suppose these are proper questions for a penultimate episode, but I was just expecting to have a clearer sense of the motivation behind a lot of the action. It’s not perfect, but it will do, much like a lot of the circumstances that face the survivors in the world of The Walking Dead.

This review was based on a digital version of The Walking Dead: Season Two, Episode Four provided by the publisher for the PC.

7.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating