Telltale Games’ award-winning video game series, The Walking Dead, is back for a second season, starting with the grimly titled episode “All That Remains”. Just as the name might suggest, All that Remains is bleak and somewhat slow-paced, and leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth – but for all the good reasons. In this episode (and throughout the entire season to follow) you play as Clementine – that little girl you took care of and taught how to survive in the first season. And just like Clementine, the second season feels like it still hasn’t come into its own. Yet.

This being the first episode, there’s isn’t a lot going on, since Clementine’s own story is still in its early stages. About two years after the tragic events of the first season, Clementine’s journey leads her to a whole new group of people who, judging from past experience, we should probably not get too attached to. Luckily for us, it can get a bit hard to form any sort of attachment to these folks, mainly because they are not at all interesting. There are maybe one to two characters that get enough screen time for us to learn a little about them, but the episode ends before we get a change to form any sort of opinion. It is quite unclear which way the story is going to turn, but it is apparent this new group (or at least some of it) will accompany Clementine in her travels.

Without a strong supporting cast, the burden of carrying the story falls completely on young Clementine. Unfortunately, it seems like our young heroin hasn’t fully grown into her new role just yet. Clem is just a vulnerable little girl, and All That Remains does its best to remind us of that. Even after all that she’s been through in the previous season, she still can’t take charge of her own fate. Throughout the entire episode things just happen to her, without her having anything to say or do about it. There are scarce moments where Lee’s teachings manifest themselves, hinting at the badass survivor and leading character Clementine can be, given the chance, but she’s still not quite there. Knowing Telltale Games, this is probably done on purpose, as part of Clementine’s journey and growth. Still, it sometimes can feel a bit frustrating when things are just out of your hands, no matter what you do or choose.

Choice is a big part of The Walking Dead series, and All That Remains does have its fair share of difficult choices to be made. However, most of them don’t feel like they have some sort of impact on the way the story unfolds. That isn’t to say they are trivial- The Walking Dead series still presents you with tough decisions that tug at your heart strings – they are simply irrelevant. One in particular feels like a cheap shot with no other purpose than making you feel sad. On the other hand, it does help reinforce the fact that Clem is, at the moment, a helpless child in a world of monsters.

Yes, there are still zombies and bad people populating the world of The Walking Dead. Truth be told, not a lot has changed since we last saw Clementine. In fact, the only real difference between this episode and the ones before it lies in the gameplay. At its core, All That Remains still plays exactly the same as previous episodes, but with the addition of a few minor improvements. Most notable are the quick-time events: they are now much more fluent and transmit the sense of action and urgency better than ever. Other changes include spruced up QTE prompts and the ability to control Clem’s hand movement in specific moments. The latter comes into play perfectly and gruesomely at one particular instance that will probably stick with you for a while.

As far as beginning go, The Walking Dead Season 2: All That Remains is a little heavy on the setup and light on the delivery. There are some truly intense moments, but for the most part, events shamble forward without any real consequences. The episode’s biggest problem is the lack of a leading character. Clementine might be the protagonist, but she just can’t carry a whole game; not yet anyways. However, everything that made The Walking Dead such a success is still there, albeit in much smaller doses. All That Remains might not be the strong start we were hoping for, but it does make it easy to remain optimistic.

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