I think that you're looking at WD through different levels of engagement (which is a legitimate failure on WD's part).
I don't consider the scale of a game to matter, only the direct impact to the player i.e, if the game is about saving a girl, vs. saving the world. I don't think saving the world automatically makes the game any better. Just like how I can change my son's life, or change the lives of a small community in Africa, my son's life matters much much more to me than theirs.
I think your enjoyment of WD season 1 depends on your approach. WD's story mattered more to me because I willfully engaged myself with the role of the protagonist. With that perspective, Clem isn't a character to protect, she's your equivalent of a daughter.
Another difference that might be important here, I bought WD at Episode 1's release, rather than after the entire season 1 had already been completed. That means that the future wasn't written, and anything could happen as a result of your choices at the end of an episode. You say we'll be at the hotel no matter what decision we make. But for me, it was a real possibility that we were going to make it onto the boat.
Also, I played WD season 1 only once, and that's intentional on my part. My decisions are what happened, and "what could have been" is irrelevant, in which case the illusion of reality, and reality is the same. If we, as human beings, live in a deterministic universe, wherein our decisions are not born from "free will" and our ultimate ends are predetermined...what difference does it really make in your life? If you think have free will, in a sense, you've have free will. I can play the game a second time to see what could have happened differently, but it wouldn't change what my original experience was, and it'd only serve to reveal the seams which weren't there in the first place (It's like going to a captivating play...then jumping up on stage afterward to pull back the curtain to reveal the production crew and criticizing the play for not having been "real").
Also, depth is different from length. Some of the best sci-fi stories are short stories, and require very careful craft to engage the audience in interesting ways within the medium. Good writing requires an editor. But I'll speak to this issue more directly.
I was given 3 small pieces of food, 2 of which I immediately gave to the children, leaving me with half an apple and a choice of who to feed. An incredibly meaningless decision compared to saving the universe right? In my case, that apple represented 1) Values, I could feed the kids and my emotional needs, 2) Utility, I could feed the people who I considered allies amidst rising tension in the group...which could save my life or Clementine's when those tensions came to a head, and 3) Justice, there was a vile man who I had vehemently clashed with in open aggression due to a misunderstanding that had happened earlier.
The half-apple was power, and responsibility, I was charged with a duty to distribute the food fairly. I might be deciding who will live and who will die as an indirect result of who I decide is deserving of eating this food. I considered each person in the group and my reasons for giving it to them, or not giving it to them.
I came back to consider my enemy. We had a misunderstanding and ended up on opposite sides. We had fought for what we believed was the right thing to do, and as a result he was my enemy. Here I am, in conditions where selfishness would be so /easy/, I could abuse the power of this half-apple and wield it as a tool to serve my whims. Why in the world should I give my enemy my half-apple?...But what would that say about me? Giving him the apple was the hard choice, and I took it.
In the end, he didn't even appreciate getting that half-apple, he thought I was trying to buy his allegiance. I didn't care, because that wasn't why I did it. The game made me look inside and ask how long I could hold onto ideals in dire straits. That kind of introspective interaction with the material is a hallmark of great writing. What's more interesting, is that this was a videogame fostering this kind of thinking, through it's interactive nature.
I'm not putting down PT by any means. It's a classic for good reason. If good writing is something a player is looking for in modern games. WD is where I'm going to point them.