The Walking Dead - The Walking Dead: Season 2 - Episode 1: All That Remains
I'm probably gonna earn a lot of dislikes for this post, but I've just finished my 3. playthrough of 'All That Remains' and I'm not that satisfied with what the game has become.
Why is Clementine such an incredible hand-to-hand fighter? She basically grabs for anything that's lying around and turns it into a deadly weapon. She fights off an adult male twice her size and almost bites off his thumb. I think her gameplay is way too offensive and aggressive and I think she's quite too strong for an eleven-year-old. She can kill walkers almost as easy as Lee, so they are no big threat. I think there is more gameplay potential when playing as a little girl than simply offering her weapons at every turn and letting her use sheer force to deal with dangerous situations. On top of that she even stitches up a big and nasty wound on her arm like Rambo. That's exaggerative.
And why is she so sassy and deceitful now? Her character is rather dark, she exploits her cuteness and can pretend to cry to manipulate people and even blackmail and threaten them into doing something for her. I don't even know this girl. This is not how my Lee raised her for sure. I taught her what's dangerous and how to protect herself, but not how to become a baddie. Where's the moral influence from my choices in Season 1? Keeping your humanity is an important theme in this genre, despite the fact that some of the so called "fans" want it to be as cruel and brutal as possible.
I guess you want to "shock" the player in the style of Kirkman by showing that the world of TWD is a harsh and dangerous place that might change the personality of its survivors up to a point where you won't recognize them anymore. But I think you are overdoing it. It's still an eleven-year-old girl in the end. No one goes from being the most loveable moral compass on the planet to being an unscrupulous and brutal hardcore survivor in only 16 months. Not even in that kind of environment. I'm not buying it.
Why do you want to make her such a "badass" now anyway? That's ridiculous. She's supposed to be an ordinary child, not some action hero.
The rest of the story seems to be rather weak so far. There is no proper direction yet. In Season 1 you gave the player an important task right from the beginning: To take care of that little girl and try to find her parents. That's what kept me going. But now there's not much to do besides to try to get along with these new people, because you simply can't survive there on your own. The only task is to try to survive only to be alive... And while that seems to be somewhat realistic, it's simply not enough for a proper game plot.
Now there is the little cliffhanger at the end ("I thought you were dead") and some other open questions (what happened to Christa and her baby and what's wrong with Sarah?). And you can already tell that there will be trouble with Carver and that the game will take you to Wellington eventually. But I don't feel like I'm having any main goal so far.
This also leads me right to my next point of criticism: The characters. Most of them simply suck. 'All That Remains' is exactly like '400 Days': There are a lot of new faces, but not enough background information. And most of them have this unlikeable aura around them, even those that are supposed to be "good guys", like Alvin. I can't really tell what it is, but I don't like these people and I couldn't care less about them.
On top of that you can't even actively talk to anyone anymore. Every conversation is initialized automatically and the dialogue options are even more non-altering than in Season 1. Sometimes each of the 3 available dialogue options even leads to Clementine saying the exact same thing.
Why don't you give the players some room for exploration and a chance to get to know these characters a little bit better, instead of just pushing them from scene to scene so fast? Season 2 is way too hectic and action-driven. Season 1 was about characterization, relationships, moral, hope and survival. But now it's ONLY about survival at an uncomfortable speed. You basically removed most of the stuff from the game that made it so outstanding in exchange for action and some more violence... Why would you do that? Capcom have made a similar mistake with their Resident Evil series as they traded off great survival horror against pure action and now they are loosing both, the good ratings and a big chunk of their fan base. A lot of gamers are starving for good stories and great characters, not for more action and gore.
The game is also still far too linear and the player still doesn't have enough influence. I'd say you have even less influence than in Season 1, which is really disappointing.
And last but not least, with a play time of approximately 90 minutes this episode is way too short. If every episode will be that short, the whole game will end up having a total play time of ~7.5 hours. That's not enough.
I AM aware that this is only the first episode of the game and that 4 more will follow, but I'm really afraid that it might go on like this.
The GameSpot rating of 6/10 might be a little harsh, but I wouldn't rate this any higher than 7/10 to be honest.