Flinging us straight back into the action mere moments after the ending of All That Remains, The Walking Dead: Season Two Episode 2 – A House Divided brings with it the all the shocking moments and tense atmosphere that we’ve come to expect from Telltale. However, A House Divided does take a small step back, removing some of the pressure from the looming threat of zombie attacks and instead bringing the focus back to the living. But does this work in its favour, or do we all need little more zombie danger in our lives?
During All That Remains, our young heroine, Clementine, managed to wedge herself into a new group of survivors who weren’t all thrilled with the young girl’s presence. With everyone in this broken world carrying with them a whole lot of trust issues and deep, dark secrets, you’ll spend most of your time in A House Divided trying to suss out the new group to find your true allies amongst the madness. Trust is huge issue which is constantly put to the test, and this will no doubt be a reoccurring theme throughout the season.
As you progress through the episode you will learn a little more about the mixed bag of characters you are now travelling with, as you strive to form relationships. You’ll find amongst them the practical leader, the concerned parent, the stupid guy, and, regrettably, some of these do at first feel very similar to the characters from Season One. However, as you get to know every individual you slowly begin to detach them from the memories of those you knew before, because while similar, they all have a little something that makes them stand out. When tensions run high, some of these characters will infuriate you with their stupidity while others will tug at your heart-strings, keeping you emotionally engaged through the entire episode.
A House Divided also sees the return of a familiar face from Season One, which we all suspected was coming but weren’t exactly set on who it would be. The reunion of Clementine and your old companion is a significant turning point in the episode, as it leads to some tough choices on whether to stick with your new friends or your old one. As time inevitably changes everyone, it is hard to judge whether your old alliances can be as strong as they once were. Building on the theme of trust, A House Divided really pushes you to take sides in both small spats and much larger events as two groups of survivors collide, and it will be interesting to see how these decisions aeffect future relationships.
The main action sequences of the episode are still just as frantic as the last, though there is a little more room to breathe with somewhat less zombie action and more tough decisions to mull over. Quite a few lives will hang in the balance this time around, and if you don’t think quickly enough or slip up somewhere along the line, then you’ll end up with a few nasty surprises. This increase in significant conversation choices keeps you completely focused on the stories that Clementine weaves, whether honest or skirting the truth. If you get lost in your lies, you can be sure that someone will notice. Because of this added pressure, you will find yourself a lot more emotionally invested in your choices compared to the last episode, as you start to worry less about zombies snacking on you and more about the survivors being the ones to rip each other apart instead.
Towards the end of the episode there is a brief moment of respite when the survivors gather for dinner and somewhat attempt to get in the Christmas spirit. However, this glimpse of calm quite suddenly snowballs into a dramatic conclusion, ending with some of the most shocking and frightening events of the season so far. This conclusion carries much more impact and presence thanks to the false sense of security you are lulled into during the episode.
Overall, A House Divided is a fantastic follow-up from All That Remains. It brings with it a welcome change of scenery and pace, while still managing to deliver some of the most surprising moments of the season so far. Though the story events do, at times, feel entirely out of your hands, it just goes to show how unstable the other survivors around Clementine are, and how one little girl can only have so much influence over the actions of others. It’s realistic at a very human level, and that’s one of the things that makes the game so wonderful. In truth, we don’t really need the zombies anymore; we just need these lost and broken people trying to get along in life, and with the episode ending on uncertain terms, we can only eagerly await what lies ahead for our survivors.