Please note that since each episode of The Walking Dead: Season 2 features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of All That Remains.
After the initial episode of Season 2 I thought we were in for something of a slow burn. That isn’t the case at all, however, as Clementine finds herself confronted by an unnamed visitor in the early moments. In the interests of treading delicately around spoilers I won’t go into much detail, but suffice to say the interaction between the two makes for one of the most tense and legitimately menacing scenes I can remember; something you can only do with a character that you’ve spent time growing fond of and who is at a physical disadvantage.
It’s this new threat, voiced by none other than Michael Madsen, that ends up stealing the show in A House Divided. He’s not some disposable villain that wants to take what you’ve worked hard to earn or a psychopath that’s snapped under the weight of a post-apocalyptic world. Instead he’s disarmingly calm, projecting a constant threat no matter what he’s doing without uttering a single word. He doesn’t want all you have. He wants you.
Naturally, Clementine and her newfound companions aren’t going to just roll over, and their exodus in hopes of distancing themselves is the episode’s focal point. There are a handful of action sequences involving the titular walkers, but there’s no doubt that A House Divided is about choices. You’re given a number of significant, course-altering decisions to make during your journey, and it often doesn’t take long to see the repercussions played out.
Providing tough choices has been one of the series’ two most outstanding features (developing the characters to make those decisions difficult being the other), and that kind of intelligent writing and story development are on full display as the game treats you to another emotional roller coaster — surprisingly so considering we’re not even at the halfway point of Season 2,yet.
I felt genuinely guilty when I was forced to choose one person (or group) over another. And sure, in typical Telltale fashion you’re shown what other players did with some of the critical decisions throughout the episode, but what stuck out to me about that was how many choices that I felt were important that didn’t even make the list. Trust me, this is a loaded episode in that regard.
We also get to see some things tying together from Season 1 and 400 Days, though once again in the interest of staying away from spoilers there’s little else I can say on that front.
A House Divided might be the best of the seven Walking Dead episodes to date. The two-plus hours contain precious little down time, instead propelling the story forward at surprising speed with lots of critical conversations and some solid action sequences as well. Clementine is really coming into her own as the lead, and I’m absolutely champing at the bit to see what direction In Harm’s Way goes.