I loved the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead game. Sure it was buggy at times, and had the bare minimum game play required to even call it a game, but I feel the great, emotional story it told overshadowed all those shortcomings. Last week Telltale officially announced Season 2 of The Walking Dead, and released a new trailer. Needless to say I’m excited.
Perhaps the biggest change Telltale will be making with Season 2 is making Clementine the playable protagonist. Not everybody is loving this choice. There is a lot of talk online saying that the Clementine story should be left alone. That the emotional conclusion to Season 1 can’t be topped, and it is just better to just leave her story open. On one hand I do kind of see where these folks are coming from, but I don’t agree with them. Making Clementine the protagonist might be the best thing Telltale could have done, because it will make me care.
Some Season 1 spoilers ahead, but I’ll leave out a lot of details.
So much of what made Season 1 of The Walking Dead great was the relationship between Lee and Clementine. Something about the pseudo father-daughter relationship just worked. Many of us felt a need to protect Clem from the moment we met her. The relationship only grew through there. Lee taught her so much about the scary new world, trying to ensure her survival if anything ever happened to him. This all led to the season’s emotional conclusion. Where Lee spent his last moments saving Clementine and giving some last advice before dying.
As a father with two little girls the story of season one hit me worse than most. Lee was somewhat of a blank slate character wise, a lot of his personality was influenced by the choices you make. This made it too easy to play through the game picturing myself and one of my girls in this world, in these situations. After I finished Season 1 I sat there speechless for some time.
They left Clementine’s ultimate fate unknown and I wasn’t sure how Telltale could possibly beat it, or even provide a worthy follow up. I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to go back to Clementine, or make the next season about a new cast of characters. A few months later when Telltale released the first season’s DLC 400 Days I feel like I had this question answered.
400 Days introduced us to a new set of characters, and had only a few small nods to the rest of Season 1. There was no Clementine too be seen. On one hand I did really enjoy 400 Days. It just felt good to be back in the universe. It showed me that there could be an enjoyable experience without the characters I already knew and loved. But although I liked 400 Days, I didn’t care about it. It was just another game. I played through it for a couple hours and then just continued my life. Season 1 wasn’t like this for me. After every episode I would think about it for days, the game would stick with me because I cared.
That is why I’m glad Season 2 will have Clementine as the protagonist. I’m sure by the time they are done another season Telltale could make new characters matter to me. But by centering it on Clementine I will start out Season 2 caring, where as I don’t even remember the names of any of the characters from 400 Days. I’m now really looking forward to whatever Telltale brings us with Season 2.