The Walking Dead: A House Divided Review In the End, it’s Your Choices that Matter Playstation 3 | Telltale | March 4, 2014 Also Available on PC, Xbox 360 and iOS Telltale consistently crafts a robust, compelling story in The Walking Dead series, where players choose dialogue paths that ultimately end in the same place. This is true for A House Divided, but the arc and variety included are wildly different than ever before. Clementine’s decisions will cause companions to die, trust to be earned and relationships damaged. Depending on how gamers completed sections entirely different scenes are made available. The options are more complex than “Bob will be in this scene instead of Fred.” This is the most ambitious and character driven episode yet. In the first season of Walking Dead, Lee and company were going to Savannah, for the most part each episode felt like a self contained adventure with this end-goal in mind (which they was based on a flimsy premise). In season two, Telltale elevated their game (unintentional pun) and is crafting an episodic series with a truly integrated approach. The threat of Carver and the new group’s lack of trust are carried over from episode one and will continue play a part of the story moving forward. Everyone’s motivations are clear and their distinct personalities are displayed in movements, expressions and voice acting, even if every little bit of their past lives isn’t provided. Clementine, and the player, may or may not trust this new group. This is the first time that the party is made up of shady and potentially dangerous individuals. There are allusions that the reason they are on the run might not be honorable. This comes across perfectly when Clem is training someone to defend themselves, “If it’s a walker shoot them in the head. if they’re alive keep shooting until they go down.” Walkers are a force of nature that can be predicted, overcome and defeated. It’s the other survivors that are the true threat in this world. One of the gameplay element’s that leaves an impact is how Clementine evolves throughout the series. In season one she was an innocent girl who looked up to the player controlled, Lee. You spent five episodes protecting, training and bonding with her. Now as you control Clem, she has gone through a lot and is no longer innocent. Because of the choices available, players can have Clem be snarky, mean and underhanded. This isn’t the same girl hiding in a treehouse. If you remember the above reference then this game will feel right at home. This is the first installment that truly dives into past episodes. There are nods to the 400 days material, which bridged seasons one and two, as well as Clem’s adventures in Atlanta. Traveling companions will ask Clem about how she survived and her life on the road with Lee. It is obvious the Lee left a lasting memory on Clementine and it’s tragically great to see his absence felt in her current survival. Surviving battles and interactive quick time events are where this game stumbles slightly. The controls are serviceable and don’t require expert timing, but the game literally tells you what to do in each situation. A cutscene of the same events would work just as well in these sequences. If you fail, it’s game over and try again. At one point, I didn’t catch the transition from story to ‘battle’ and missed a cue. The game proceeded to load data faster than it displayed on the screen. Only through memorizing the general location of where the cursor needed to be and mashing R1 did I progress on my fourth attempt. A House Divided is the best episode that Telltale delivered to date. The characters are established and able to grow within the story. The episode is a compelling adventure that will cause tension within you and fits seamlessly into a large narrative for the season. There is a good mixture of action, character growth and humanized moments. Score: 9.5 /10 + Amazing Voice Acting + Intense Story + Multilayered Characters + Fleshed Out World + Clear Purpose – Combat Level Up, Friends! Spoiler Inside: Story Elements SelectShow> This spoiler section might differ from your play through due choices made. My game opened with Nick and Clem hiding from walkers in a moonshine shed. Even though she is the child, Clem had to push Nick to survive. He is rearing from the loss of his uncle Pete and wants to let the walkers take him. Clem can offer up a compelling speech of survival to make Nick stay in the fight. When the two leave the shed Nick will ‘sacrifice’ himself so Clem can move forward. Back at the group’s cabin, Clem finds the party split up looking for her, Nick and Pete. The last few adults leave Clem in charge of the ‘special’ girl. I don’t know why these adults are so trusting after a few days but….videogames. Eventually, Carver shows up inquiring about the group. Carver is a villain, maybe, who is looking for his lost herd. It’s great to watch Clem try and lie and say that they aren’t there, but ultimately she is a child and can’t truly outsmart a grown man. The group is afraid of Carver and leaves the safety of their home to head north. They end up passing where Nick was swarmed by walkers and turns out he wasn’t bit (which requires a suspension of disbelief…the guy was surrounded with no weapons). Throughout the journey the team is constantly asking Clem for guidance, direction or validation. I know that Clem is capable and the protagonist but at one point I said aloud “go find your own damn supplies.” When the travelers start to cross a bridge they are greeted by a guy who looks a lot like Vince from 400 Days. He offers them food, shelter and advice. In return, Nick shoots him in the head because he was holding a gun and Nick couldn’t tell how the conversation was going. The team is relatively unphased by this event and continues onwards up the mountain. At the peak of the mountain Clem runs into… Kenny?! This is kind of cool but also a mixture of “what are the chances”. Kenny is more bi-polar after the events of season one. He will quickly go from calm and friendly in a conversation to yelling at someone for making the ‘wrong’ choice. There is a unique dynamic presented as they both fondly remember Lee. There are clear battle lines between Clem’s new group and Kenny’s. This comes to a head when you have to choose to sit with Luke or Kenny at dinner…one of the more difficult choices because someone is going to be hurt regardless. Remember that guy Nick killed on the bridge, turns out he is with the group. The player picks up on this quickly and so does Clem. It is interesting to see her be smarter than most of the adults in this world. The bridge warden was Mathew, Walter’s partner. Walter is the nicest guy in the world, willing to offer help to Clem’s group and give food to a stranger. This all turns on a dime when he finds out Mathew’s fate. It is eerily creepy how the friendly professor becomes the most feared individual as he tosses a knife back and forth contemplating killing Nick. climax of the episode occurs when Carver arrives with a makeshift army to retrieve his property. Turns out, the pregnant woman in the group is carrying Carver’s child but he considers all survivors as his cattle. If there was any doubt before, it’s evident that Carver is this season’s antagonist. Clem’s original group ran away from Carver because they didn’t like his methods. Carver is a dynamic villain because he seems to view himself as a hero. He isn’t a raving lunatic like the Governor or a psychopath like Negan. Carver is in control and ruthless to ensure his goals. His calm approach to killing Walter is more effective and disturbing than if he did it out of anger. The episode ends with Clementine and company being rounded up and sent to Carver’s camp. This is a great premise and with all the excellent groundwork Telltale laid the next installments are shaping up to being even better. I can’t wait for episode three.