Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-04-22 16:12:08
The Walking Dead and Season 2 Predictions
Hands up if you didn't like Telltale Games' The Walking Dead. You know the one - it won all sorts of prestigious end-of-year gaming awards in 2012 and probably resulted in more tears being shed by players than any other game last year due to its superb and melancholy ending. If your hand is up then you clearly don't have a soul. Only joking. While I enjoyed the game immensely, I am a sucker for character-driven games, and I can understand that the game may not have been engaging to gamers more interested in getting into the action. While there were action-packed moments in Lee Everett's adventure, there were also a lot of pacing lulls to accommodate character development and interaction, which wouldn't necessarily appeal to all gamers.
But if, like me, you did enjoy Season 1 of The Walking Dead and you are, at the time of writing, eagerly awaiting Season 2, you have probably given some thought into what might be coming up. My earliest prediction was that Season 2 would follow an entirely different group of survivors, chronologically playing out at roughly the same time as Lee's adventure in Season 1. By the end of Season 2, I theorised, you would have only two survivors left, the two Clementine, the game's adorable deuteragonist, sees on the hill at the end of Season 1, and then in Season 3 you would play as those two survivors and Clementine (and any ancillary characters you might pick up on the way). The reason for this, I formed in my mind, would be to make you care about all the characters you play as, rather than introducing Clementine to two new people at the start of Season 2 and have her dominate your affections.
However, I believe Telltale have announced that the game will bring back the characters we know and love in Season 2, and so I assume that Omid, Christa, Clementine (and Kenny?) will be making a return. Assuming that we pick things up again from Clementine, and that Omid and Christa are the two people on the hill, we have to wonder what happens next. Getting to safe ground would be sensible, but, of course, Telltale like to toy with a player's expectations.
Telltale recently suggested that they might consider putting more characters from the show into the game for Season 2. This would irritate me greatly, because I always considered the game to be linked to the comics, not the show. If Carol shows up in Season 2, I want her to be the insecure in-love-with Tyreese Carol, not the short-haired, weak-as-hell Carol from the TV show. If we see Andrea, I want the sharp-shooting, cut-across-her-face Andrea from the comic, not the high-school drama Andrea from the show. I find the comic to be vastly superior to the show in terms of its characters, and therefore it is risky using the show, rather than the comic, as the source material for character design in the game. The outcome of doing so is The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, and no one wants that.
If they are to bring in other characters from either the comic or the show, there is a lot of potential. After all, Glenn turned up in Season 1, Episode 1, and for a while the Lilly in the game was arguably the Lilly from the comic, at least until Telltale changed their minds after the release of the 'Road to Woodbury' graphic novel, which conflicted with their characterisation. I would hope that they avoid characters without a comic-counterpart, such as Merle and Daryl, because I don't see the fascination at all with those characters. I often see Daryl cited as the best character in the show, and while that isn't saying a lot, I wouldn't say that his character is anything special whatsoever in the grand context of TV. It certainly wouldn't interest me to see him in Season 2 of Telltale's game, especially when he got his own Activision title (as bad as it may have been).
I think it is likely the case that Season 2 will follow Clementine meeting up with Omid and Christa. Christa is pregnant, and therefore might have a baby during the second season, if months go by between the two seasons. That would sort of tie in with Lori Grimes having a baby in the comic, which might be a nice tribute. It would also give Telltale the chance to explore some pretty dark themes - could they be one of the first developers to have a game feature the death of an infant? It would certainly be an emotional gut-punch.
I do feel that if the player controlled Clementine the game would be a very different experience. No one really listens to a child, and therefore if Clementine was the playable character in Season 2 she wouldn't really have any authority for the majority of the game in the same way that Lee did in Season 1. Unless the game was essentially about Clementine surviving, meeting people and constantly moving on when things get dangerous, this wouldn't necessarily work. However, it would be quite fascinating to play a zombie apocalypse game from the perspective of a child, trusting no one and constantly having to run away. It might get tedious across a five-episode series, but it could work.
I imagine the player will instead play as Omid or Christa. If I had to make a speculative guess, I would say Omid, purely because then the game would be about protecting someone else again, which worked the first time around with Lee and Clementine. Only this time it would be Omid protecting his pregnant wife, Christa, which would work really well as the characters had a strong, dynamic relationship in the first season. While we didn't see too much from either of them in Season 1, joining the group as they did at the end of Episode 3, I did find them to be immensely likeable, and I do hope they become major characters in the second season. Just please, Telltale, don't make us play as the Dixon brothers from the TV series. I'd rather play as the Governor, honestly, if they're going to make us play as thoroughly unlikeable characters.
Actually, there's an idea.