We continue our adventures with the young Clementine, a girl who’s forced to grow up all too quickly thanks to the zombie apocalypse. When we last left Clem, she had just found a new group of survivors to stay with in a cabin in the woods. Though they had a rocky start at first, the group eventually took her in and counted her as one of their own, even though there was a little trepidation on the part of some other survivors.
[slight spoilers ahead]
Depending on how you ended the situation at the stream in Episode One, Clem either ended up with the now-bitten Pete or his trigger-happy, loose cannon of a nephew, Nick. Whether you went for safety or chanced it with a bitten survivor, one thing remains true: nothing is ever simple for Clementine. Once she comes back to the cabin, the rest of the group sets out to look for Pete, leaving Clementine in charge of Sarah, Carlos’ daughter.
Interacting with Sarah proves to be a challenge because she’s very sheltered and childlike, so it’s interesting to see the choices in dialogue that pop up for her. Do you do as Alvin says and distract her, making sure not to expose her to the reality of the danger that surrounds you? Do you prepare her for the harsh truths of this new world and teach her how to defend herself with a gun? Or do you make Clementine more sympathetic towards the girl and even coddle her a bit?
Whatever you choose helps shape your very own Clementine. You’ll come to find in the rest of the episode that her interactions with others are definitely causing her to grow up a lot faster. In one conversation with an adult later on in the episode, she’s asked how she’s been getting along in this new world. You can choose to say, “A lot of people underestimate me,” which is incredibly true. Even you, as the player, might underestimate what she’s capable of, having gone through the events of Season One as Lee, her surrogate father and protector. Seeing Clem make such harsh decisions (and sometimes with a harsher personality), is slightly jarring and provides a stark contrast to the sweet, timid girl we used to know who once took a hit off a saltlick.
This episode is decidedly more exciting than the last, providing us with different backgrounds and backdrops for the action. While there are many walkers present, any fan of The Walking Dead should know by now that real challenge in the new world is dealing with people. So really, it’s just like how it was in the old world, except everyone has become highly defensive and guns are often trained on strangers, mostly out of fear and a need for security.
We’re taken from the cabin to the woods, across a bridge and up a hill to a ski lodge. Each location presents its own unique challenges for Clementine, but more than ever, her choices matter. And it seems that with each choice you make, you’re locked into a different branch of the story, or at least a different branch of Clem’s personality. Because of the stark differences between all of the choices she can make, this episode fosters replay more than the rest. You yearn to know how things would have been different if you had given a slightly different answer to one person or acted in a more forceful way with another.
This episode is important not only because it further shapes Clem’s personality in the zombie apocalypse, but it also introduces a new antagonist of sorts, voiced by Michael Madsen, and features the return of a familiar face. Of course, we won’t give you any spoilers, but suffice to say that feels will be had. There’s also a lot more action in this episode, which is a welcome change from the drudgery and near-helpless feeling one got from Episode One. Clem finally gets to put the skills Lee taught her to good use, proving to everyone, especially to us, that she’s one step closer to being able to handle the dangers out there all on her own.
It should also be mentioned that the graphics and textures this time around are noticeably prettier. Soft lights can be appreciated more, especially when breaking through the canopy of the woods or streaming in through the windows. The facial expressions of certain characters are a lot better too, adding a bit of nuance to certain scenes in which dialogue is scarce. Sometimes, silence and a knowing look can speak a lot louder than any of the best written dialogue.
All in all, A House Divided provides a more exciting installment of The Walking Dead adventure game and lets us see just how much Clementine has grown while taking us on an exciting venture out into the woods to escape a dangerous man. It’s also deceptively quick because of the many changes in setting, leading you to believe that it’s shorter than it is. The events at the ski lodge just have us chomping at the bit to play Episode Three. Hopefully, the wait will be as quick and enjoyable as Episode Two.
This review was based on a digital version of The Walking Dead: Season Two, Episode Two provided by the publisher for the PC.