Telltale Games (studio)
15 January 2019 (released)
23 January 2019
Zombies have always been an interesting enemy in any media. They’re never truly the antagonising force but rather used effectively as an obstacle or to drive the story for the human characters. The Walking struck the right balance between zombies and human engagement, but somewhere down the line that all got lost and it became a post-apocalyptic soap opera. The first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead was gripping, emotional and beautifully written. The other seasons weren’t as much but still decent in many regards. Now with the final chapter here, can it finish the legendary journey of Clementine on a high note?
The original writer of the first season for The Walking Dead has come back and developed an interesting concept for the final chapter. Not holding back on the drama, we see Clementine and AJ rescued while on the road and taken a former boarding school for troubled children. We have a mixture of young adults here as they try to rebuild their lives and the world around them. Clementine and AJ make this their new home and things start off pretty well. But trouble ensues in many different forms and Clementine must take responsibility for her actions and those of young AJ.
The Walking Dead was a pioneer in delivering fresh content for the zombie genre, taking likeable and hateful characters into unique and interesting locations. That hasn’t been the case for a few years now but Gary Whitta has brought us one of the best set ups in recent years. The themes of punishment, influence and corruption are prominent here as Clementine struggles to do what’s right in a world full of hate and death while looking after young and impressionable AJ. Choices matter and even some of small ones add up. But this is where the series major choices (those from previous games) come into play and everything comes full circle.
The first episode does take gently ease players into the world with plenty of small interactions and light choices which don’t impact the story too much. It can be a little slow but has some enthralling moments of panic, dread and action. The first episode leaves things on an unsettling note and it goes wary very quickly from there. The tension escalates; pressure mounts on our young cast as a new enemy arises and the unity inside the group is questioned with each and every action you make. The pacing does slow down by episode three as this becomes more a build up for the conclusion (coming out March 26th).
This is fine as the same has been for all seasons, particularly season one. But it’s nice to get a little more character development and to wine down and reflect on previous choices made. The Final season has been very strong so far and there’s plenty of substance for a gripping story about humanity striving through the worst of times. Clementine is still very likable no matter what choices you make and the supporting cast are balanced and engaging.
In terms of gameplay, the Final Season goes at a steady pace and moves away from the previous stigma of low, over drawn lateral elements. You know, those long fetch quests and combing things together until something happened. They’re gone and now there is a focus on more interactive elements and action sequences. Don’t worry there are still a few puzzles, they’re just more streamlined and relate a lot more to the nature of this season rather than being paint by numbers tasks.
The only gripe I had been with the clunky, tank like controls during the frantic action sequences. It’s easy to miss a turning or run into an invisible wall resulting in death. But the action sequences are creative and fun to involve yourself in. Plus there are plenty of checkpoints so no significant progress is lost thankfully.
The Walking Dead Final Season is looking to be the best since the first and it’s hopefully the end Clementine’s story deserves. It’s highly engaging, terrifying and emotional, just what it should be. The action sequences while not original are fun for the most part (despite clunky controls) and the game looks and sounds greats.
I mean the visuals are stunning for a Cell-Shaded game, the best looking of all the series.
I can say that Tell-Tale’s The Walking Dead has been a magnificent series for the most part, with Season One being the high light. This could beat it if the ending matches and goes beyond to deliver a heart-breaking yet satisfying conclusion. I mean, the first season had me in tears by the end and I gather this might too.
Stay tuned for our review of the final chapter, coming March 26th.
++ Great Story-telling for the series since Season One
++ Sounds and Looks great
+ Intense survival and action sequences
- Some slow pacing in the later episode
- Stiff and clunky controls for action moments
A PC Review code for The Walking Dead: The Final Season was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.