Wednesday 1 May 2019

The Walking Dead: The Final Season ★★★★☆

People need closure. I need closure. When Telltale announced they were shutting up shop, it didn’t look good for The Walking Dead: The Final Season. The plodding nature of their releases should have been an indicator of their precarious position, and it meant there was a chance that the last two chapters would never see the light of day. Despite maintaining radio silence for a while, it was picked up by series creator Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment. It’s a welcome relief to know that we’ll get a conclusion to a story that began back in 2012, especially one that eclipses a show that can be hit-and-miss at the best of times.

Players are placed back in the shoes of Clementine, who continues to protect AJ years after we last saw her in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. Her problems manifest when she meets up with former students from the Ericson Academy for Troubled Youth, who she decides to stick with for the time being. If you’ve been here since season 1, you’ll have the chance to reminisce about Lee, Kenny, and everyone else, while old enemies and previous experiences should be helpful as you have to decide who to trust when the going gets tough. 

“Broken Toys” is the third chapter which has just been released, with a fourth slated to be ready in time for March 2019. It continues to offer the typical batch of life-or-death choices, with consequences that do leave you attempting to read the future. If you do X, what happens to X? Everyone remembers everything, and it’s a familiar gameplay loop, but it’s still satisfying to get to know the characters, with the understanding that their safety generally depends on the choices you make. 

Despite growing up to be a 16-year-old single (adopted) mother in a wasteland full of crazy killers, Clementine is still sane, if a little hardened due to her past losses. She’s a great main character, and the focus on her relationship with AJ makes the story even more compelling.  You’ll spend a significant amount of time teaching AJ the ropes, shaping his personality as well as your own. It’s a nice touch, and you’ll always have to weigh the responsibilities of being a parent against the good of the group as a whole. He’s a brave little dude, but he’s only 5. Do you really want to give him a weapon?

I’m a bit tired of the format, but it shouldn’t be missed if the news of Telltale’s demise got you worried in the slightest. The core gameplay is pretty much the same, while graphically it’s a polished version of New Frontier. The story is always the selling point in the TWD game series, and it’s still as strong as the first season. For a time it felt like there might not be an ending, and it’s always a danger when a game is served up in a piecemeal fashion. Thankfully, we get an end to Clementine and AJ’s story, even if it’s in a slightly roundabout way. 

James Millin-Ashmore

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