As a huge “The Walking Dead” fanatic I always felt ashamed when someone mentioned the famous Telltale’s title, because for many reasons I always told myself “Yeah, I will play it someday”, and then never did it. Procrastinating has been a huge part of my life back in the days – I know, I know, I’m not very proud of it – and so, the game has been waiting for me followed by a long list of books, abandoned tv shows and movies.
I discovered the “The Walking Dead” universe quite late – in 2013 more precisely – because somehow the AMC show never appealed me that much. And the funny thing is that, when I decided to give it a chance, one of my friends replied: “I have the whole Season 1 on bluray. I can lend it to you, so you don’t have to spend anything. And, if you like it you can keep it. That tv series is so terrible I don’t mind giving away my copy for free.” . Not exactly what you’d define “encouraging”, right? But I took the challenge, and instantly fell in love with it. I could talk about its flaws and its precious moments for hours, but this isn’t the point. In case you never had the chance to watch the show and you’re waiting for a good reason, I could give you many but the most striking one is a character named Glenn Rhee. Skip the rest of this post if you don’t want to get any spoiler!
So, I loved Glenn since the beginning. He was cunning, funny, fast, nice and yes – Steven Yeun gave the character even more charm. Glenn was exactly what the show needed in that moment. And in many other moments in which he has been the brightest of the characters. Then, as I expected when the family met Negan, he died. And this really made me sad. I cried a lot. Watched again the episode 4 days later, and cried again. I really needed to have Glenn back, couldn’t wait for the new episode to see Rick and the others planning his vengeance, and this is why I decided that the moment to play the Telltale “The Walking Dead” game (he briefly appears in there, before going to meet his destiny in Atlanta), had finally arrived. So I installed it.
I’ll start saying that I hate cellshading (the only exception existing in my honest opinion is XIII – an old masterpiece), and that the game mechanics didn’t really impress me. So what kept me on the game? Simple as it sounds – the storyline.
You start the game as Lee Everett, a man once teaching History and now convicted to serve a time of imprisonment, closed in a police car with a chatty officer driving him to prison. The boring conversation with the officer gives you the opportunity to learn the basics of the gameplay, and you can decide to answer him how you prefer – silence is also an option – when suddenly the driver (too busy in telling you anecdotes about his long career) gets distracted and crashes the car while trying to avoid an accident. You get out of the car, wounded but not too seriously, only to find out that the officer is apparently dead. This is when the first walkers show up, and running away from them – scared and confused, with your leg bleeding and hurting – you end up into a beautiful house, that looks completely empty… After a few minutes of exploration, you have the chance to meet Clementine. Big hazel eyes, the brightest smile and long curly hair popping out of a baseball hat.
Isn’t she the sweetest? Yes, indeed. But she is much more than that, and if you didn’t play the game but you’re still curious about it, keep on reading here and know why Clementine needs to be a goal for nowadays kids.
We live in an era in which raising a kid is everything but easy – technology and social medias made us all less social (oh, the irony), less active, less thoughtful. Let’s face it: we have young boys and young girls giving away the best years of their lives trying to be like the grown ups. Don’t misunderstand: I used to steal my mom’s heels just to try them in front of the mirror as well, and sometimes I wore makeup without my family knowing about it because I wanted to be pretty at school, and they thought I was too young for that. And yes, I made my mistakes like everyone else. Making mistakes is a useful part of growing up, if you have somebody behind your back ready to support you and to show you the right way.
Clementine had a family. When the apocalypse started, she was alone with her babysitter while they were on holiday. We don’t know much about the relationship she had with them, or about what happened to her babysitter. But during the game, until the very end, she never loses hope. She wants to find them, but the more she spends time with Lee the more the idea of losing him scares her – because despite his dark past and his actions, he takes care of her, no matter what. She doesn’t judges him for what he did before their encounter, but from the actions she sees with her eyes, and she trusts him because she believes that people deserves second chances.
Then, we have the spirit. Clementine is a 8 years old child trapped in a nightmare. She has been hiding from the monsters in a tree house hoping that her family would eventually come back to save her, and she ends up saving a grown up adult from a walker.
Lee and her reach the Greene’s farm, where they meet Shawn and yes, Hershel. And here we notice another useful skill of Clementine: she’s very clever. Because she understands. And she’s loyal, even if this means living an uncomfortable life.
“Going on through the game, we see Clementine growing up a lot in a very short time. This, sometimes, is the key to survive.”
There is another kid in the game, a little boy that goes by the nickname of “Duck”. With him, we see that Clementine never really lost her inner child and her innocence: she still makes lovely drawings and has fun with little jokes like hiding a dead fly under his pillow.
But she knows that the real world has changed forever, and so did her life.
Another important trait of the little girl is that she’s incredibly brave. More than once, being shorter and thinner of everyone else in the group is recognized in her as a skill, and she isn’t afraid of using her advantage to help her team. Being brave is necessary when it comes to choices. Because sooner or later we all have to make choices, and hopefully the right ones. But choosing, most of the times means also sacrifice. And we must be ready for it without allowing anything to push us down.
Generally we can see that Clementine belongs to a new standard for humans during the apocalypse – she becomes such a great person that even in the sequel, in which she’s the main playable character, people in the group actually take important decisions according to the opinion of an 11 years old girl. And this is great, because having conscious children means having conscious adults one day. It means that when we’ll be old and weak, our future will be in good hands.
“In season 2 of the game, she has dialogue options about missing school and wanting to study in a college. This means that even if she was just 8 when everything started to fall apart, she already knew the value of education and the importance of studies.”
Last but not least, she is gifted with compassion and she proves it more than once even in such an extreme living condition. Beside the cold and the hunger, in the second season of the game, Clementine is able to go over her own needs to think about the others – even if the others are a raccoon and its two babies.
Out there, there’s a world that sometimes can be as scary as a zombie apocalypse. And perhaps, we should re-think about what concerns our families. Because a hero can be found behind the corner, and in this age it can even be found in our living room, in the box of a videogame. We don’t need the guns, the deaths, the fear. But maybe, we need less young girls wanting to be as hot as a starlette or as outstanding as a popstar on stage. We need more heroes. We need more Clementine.