• The Walking Dead for Xbox 360, PS3 $24.99
• The Ship on Steam for the PC $19.99
Is there a limit to how much zombie-themed media this country can produce? With so much of our time spent thinking about zombies, will we ever grow tired of it all? No, probably not, and it is with great fanfare that we welcome the return of 2012’s game of the year, The Walking Dead.
Telltale Games’ first season of the point-and-click action novel The Walking Dead featured protagonist Lee Everett and young orphan Clementine among a cast of characters with whom building a relationship means death or survival. The five-part series, released as downloadable content across multiple platforms, ended with (spoiler alert) Clementine having to shoot big daddy Lee in the face due to his being bitten by a crazed garbage zombie.
We sobbed as we tossed game-of-the-year trophies in Telltale Games’ direction. It truly was an immersive experience that gave players more to do than shoot or kick. Now, months later, Clementine is back — a little older, a little wiser and clearly damaged, with the choices you made in previous installments carrying over into the new season.
The Walking Dead season 2 begins with All That Remains, a title that should give you a hint as to what to expect. Omid and Christa, favorites from season 1, are traveling with Clementine; and then, as if to say, “Here, you deal with this,” one of them is murdered and the episode skips forward six months.
As in the first season, actions are taken through the usual point and click. This time the lengths to which one must go to produce a result have increased. Clementine and Christa sit around a campfire in a muggy forest. When Christa heads off to scout for wood, Clementine is left in charge of keeping the fire lit. Find a log, attempt to light it, and you’ll find yourself pressing sideways and several buttons to perform the action.
Clearly, Telltale is attempting to address some of the issues from season 1, namely that the game played itself more often than not, but it could grow tedious if we were made to light every fire or turn every knob. Following the fire scene, we are attacked by three grizzled men. This is where season 2 will shine. Clementine kicks, bites and dodges her way out of danger; all the while the player is the one in control.
Yes, the shaky-cam, point-and-click spots are on screen, but you’ll find yourself trying to click a tiny circle while pressing several buttons to avoid punches, bites and stabbings as well.
I’m not going to say that this season of The Walking Dead is going to accumulate as many game-of-the-year titles as its predecessor, but if this first episode (and, to an extent, the spinoff 400 Days) is any indication, it has the potential to squeeze trophies and placards out of the tears you’ll marinate in come the finale. Keep a box of tissues nearby, just in case.
If zombies aren’t your thing, pick up The Ship, a PC multiplayer experience that pits you against a boat full of potential murderers.
Like the murder mystery dinners your significant other has dragged you to, The Ship features mystery and intrigue sans the D-list actors. Gather information about your prey or simply try to survive as you stalk or are stalked by a disguised murderer. Last person standing wins.
There’s a single-player mode that makes the story far more interesting with an antagonist by the name of Mr. X who looks vaguely Creole but speaks with a Russian accent. At one point, while trying to hide a body, I crapped myself and drew attention from a guard who promptly threw me in jail.
Talk about realistic game play. Remember to keep in mind where the nearest toilet is.
Chris O’Neal is constantly on the lookout for a bathroom. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.