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Telltale's The Walking Dead: The Final Season (Ep 1-3)

Video Game Review

Written by Ryan Noble

Released by Telltales Games and Skybound Entertainment

Developed by Telltales Games (Episode 1 and 2) and Skybound Games (Episode 3)
2018-2019, Rated Mature
Episode 1 released on 14 August 2018
Episode 2 released on 25 September 2018
Episode 3 released on 15 January 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam. Nintendo Switch

Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season Large

Review:

The Walking Dead is a series that has been gnashing its way through almost every medium, from comics and television to arcades and video games, but somehow manages to avoid feeling rotten. This is especially the case in Telltale’s The Walking Dead, which gives people the chance to make their own choices – and mistakes – in the harsh world of Robert Kirkman’s creation.

Now on its Final Season, I played through Episode 1-3 just in time for Episode 4 to be released on Monday 26th March.

In case you haven’t played through any of the previous seasons of Telltale’s The Walking Dead before, I’ll catch you up to where we’re at without any spoilers.

Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season 01  Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season 02

The Recap

We begin as Lee, a man who rescues a girl named Clementine, and teaches her how to look after herself in a world that’s falling apart at the beginning of the zombie outbreak. He keeps her safe for a while, but things go wrong, as they often do in TWD.

After a dramatic, heart-wrenching shift in the narrative, players take on the role of Clementine, affectionately called ‘Clem’ by this point. We then follow her story to the ‘current day’ of the games, seeing her fight her way through the harsh realities and choices of various human groups, undead ambushes, and taking care of someone else’s baby: AJ.

It’s at this point that TWD: The Final Season picks up the narrative once more.

A game that has matured with its characters

It’s been a few years since the end of TWD Season 3 and Clem and AJ have been doing everything they can to survive. Like the game’s detailed environments, the characters have matured considerably.

Clementine seems older than ever with the responsibility of parenting AJ in the rights and wrongs of such a morally-grey world, and it is up to the player to make these decisions. AJ hangs onto Clem’s every word, so saying and doing too many of the ‘wrong’ things in a world that demands kids to grow up so quickly could really mess him up good.

Knowing the effects you might be having on AJ – as his parental guardian – really adds an extra weight to the choices you make and brings the game full circle from the first season to the final season. You began as a scared child learning how to survive, and now you’re a toughened teenager, having to teach those same lessons to a child you rescued, as best as you can.

Just like all parents – I imagine – you never really know if you’re making the right choices.

Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season 03  Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season 04

Stories as timeless as the undead

And, as always, that’s what Telltale’s TWD does so well.

The reason that these stories never grow old, regardless of the medium, is that it’s the people and our humanity, or lack of it, that create the hardest choices in life. Zombies aren’t new, and TWD really isn’t, but these kinds of stories – ones of humanity’s fight for survival without losing themselves – are timeless.

Once you get to know the people you’re fighting alongside, every choice feels important. In such high-pressure scenarios, someone is always going to get hurt – sometimes emotionally, sometimes physically – and it may be a choice you make that puts them in harm’s way. Across these episodes, such key moments are balanced well.

The focus of The Final Season centres around Ericson’s School for Troubled Youth, where Clem and AJ meet a ragtag bunch of kids after being rescued from a car crash. All the adults have either died or abandoned them, and this small group of surviving children is doing its best to get by.

For Clem and AJ, they’re just happy to not be on the move anymore, even if they struggle at first to trust the kindness of strangers. Naturally, it’s not long before they’re given a reason to trust their own instincts before anyone else.

The yin and yang of survival

The writers have created great pacing across Episode 1-3, giving the player moments of reflection and action, humanisation and tension. They know how to write a story of flawed, real characters and you can find yourself loving someone who isn’t perfect or hating someone you can’t help but empathise with.

It’s extremely conflicting and can make choices even harder, especially when you start to get under the skin of the characters – which is exactly what they want.

The style and sound have also improved from season to season, with melancholic music that fits the tone of the story perfectly and rundown, gritty environments and characters that are captured so well with the thick lines and dark colours of the comics. On top of this, the narrative-driven adventure gameplay is tried-and-tested, if occasionally a little clunky, but feels more like a method of getting to the writing and character development that makes TWD so special.

Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season 05  Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season 06

Is it worth reanimating for?

Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Episode 1-3 of The Final Season – and seasons 1-3 in their entirety – are highly recommended. They take fans of the undead and The Walking Dead and give them an entirely new story to experience and shape with their choices. It takes everything you love and hate about the high-octane series and puts the weight of it directly onto your shoulders, which can leave you feeling powerful or guilty, depending on how things go down.

Games that make me care about the characters are right up my street, and TWD knows exactly how to make people give a damn. Clem’s story took a bite out of my heart back in 2012 when it was first released, and it looks like it’s finally going to let go after next week.

There may be no end in sight for the undead apocalypse, but Clem and AJ’s narrative is looking to be 6-feet under after the last episode, releasing on Monday 26 March.

I’ll be playing it immediately and reviewing here for you, so don’t stray too far… You never know what might be waiting out there for you.

Grades:

Story: Fivestars Telltale The Walking Dead Final Season Small
Buy Amazon Uk
Graphics: Fourandahalfstars
Gameplay: Fourstars
Sound: Fourandahalfstars
Replayability: Fivestars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars

About The Author
Ryan Noble
Staff Reviewer
If Ryan isn't watching, reading or playing some form of horror, he's probably writing about it. He used to be an Editor at Indie Game Magazine so he has a soft spot for independent creators, especially when they're creating fear. Whether you're one such creator, or a fellow horror fan, let's speak about spooks on Twitter or email.
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