The Walking Dead S2 E2: A House Divided PS3 review – powerful yet passive entry won’t give you gamer’s thumb
Right, well I’m all conflicted now. On the one hand, The Walking Dead: A House Divided chugged along from a technical standpoint, fell foul once again of presenting me with pseudo-decisions and gave me less game than ever to interact with. On the other hand, I feasted on it like a macabre bargain bucket.
Telltale’s undead baby is gradually morphing from an interactive drama into an animated series in which you occasionally have to push a button to keep the engine running. This means there’s plenty to take it to task on when writing a review – lengthy passages of passive gameplay, choices that offer no positive outcome and are often more linear than they appear – but the really troubling thing is that these issues didn’t profoundly affect my enjoyment of a tightly wound, engrossing and exhilarating story.
Episode one was a slog by comparison. There was almost none of season one’s momentum to carry it along, as well as a script’s worth of character development to squeeze into a short time without coming across as laboured. Episode two is free from those shackles, bonding you like glue to its new cast via a series of encounters that really up the tension.
Telltale’s undead baby is gradually morphing from an interactive drama into an animated series in which you occasionally have to push
a button to keep the engine running
Pro tip: there is no happy-clappy sunshine route through this ep. At every juncture lies anguish and lots of frowny faces. While new characters still don’t fall into lazy stock varieties, they are beginning to exhibit behaviours that should be familiar to season one vets. There is (possible spoiler) one particular pay-off of note if you’ve been with it from S1 E1.
I desperately want to talk about it with you, but I can’t. Neither can we converse about the locations and major plot points in any detail, not just because I’m trapped in this realm of written words, but because not knowing is so important to your enjoyment. Just trust me when I say the quality of writing on display matches the very best of Telltale’s output thus far – and that includes Bigby Wolf & his Fable cohorts.
The Walking Dead A House Divided is a more passive episode than previous entries but also one of the best written.
But where The Wolf Among Us gives you a puzzle to crack, TWD is more inclined to keep you passive, listening in on others, watching them emote (few have Telltale’s talent and bravery for using facial expressions and silence to tell a story) and chirping up when a choice needs to be made.
The bottom line, I suppose, is that A House Divided is among the most enjoyable episodes Telltale has released – it just doesn’t let you take ownership of events to the extent previous episodes did. A thrilling two hours rippling with tension, but interactivity is becoming marginalised in favour of an cinematic pacing. You won’t use the pad much – and you won’t care.