The Walking Dead: The Final Season is an episodic point-and-click adventure role-playing video game developed by Telltale Games and later Skybound Games, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The game serves as the conclusion to the story we have been following since the series’s inception.
Is It Worth?
In my review for A New Frontier, I wrote that “one of the reasons I played this game (and the next) was because I wanted to see Clem’s story through.” While that is true, it didn’t justify why I was playing and writing about games years old, made by a studio that had long shut it doors, now.
Well, as I sat to play Shadow of Tomb Raider, a game I had in my backlog for years, in the midst of a pandemic, I realised how, what feels like a lifetime ago, when I texted Devesh asking how that new Tomb Raider is, he texted back listing “The Good” and “The Bad” about it, and how that sparked the idea for this blog, with him writing a review for Tomb Raider and me writing one for the game I had recently beat back then, The Walking Dead. I thought about how our little blog has been stuck in limbo for quite some time, with no new posts in over two years. This labour of love didn’t deserve that. I need to bring this to a close too, I thought. Much like Lara’s story did with Shadow of Tomb Raider. Much like Clem’s story does in The Walking Dead: The Final Season. We started with Tomb Raider and The Walking Dead. We conclude with Shadow of the Tomb Raider and The Walking Dead: The Final Season.
So, is it worth it? It was.
A little about the Gameplay
The game follows series protagonist, Clementine, as she tries raising a young boy named Alvin “AJ” Junior in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead. Like most Walking Dead game, this one too follows the formula of ‘finding a group and having to defend it’ narrative, with this time around the group being a bunch of troubled children surviving out of a boarding school. This season draws parallels to the first, in the sense that it plays on the same parent/child relationship of the first, yet this time around the game puts a little extra emphasizes on how much your actions have consequences, especially on how AJ is raised and what he learns from those actions.
Having complained about how Telltale’s formulaic gameplay has gotten, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed a combat system, albeit quite shallow. While for the most part, the game sticks with the conversations and consequences routine, occasionally, it does break out, allowing you a full 360° camera control in an over-the-shoulder third person setting.
1: Up until the last episode, which, to be honest, suffered perhaps only due to the fact that Telltale Games had to close down during this game’s episodic release, this season was perhaps the strongest since the original. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite happy that Skybound Games stepped in to help complete Clementine’s story, but I wonder what the end product would have looked like had we lived in a perfect world and the developers didn’t had to complete this game with a skeleton crew. Alas, we don’t live in a perfect world.
2: The game feels like a significant jump over its predecessors, particularly due to the introduction of the 360° camera control and the combat system. Moreover, Telltale look confident in their approach – I didn’t notice any frame drops; the graphics looked sharp, almost as if the developers have perfected their comic book art style; characters looked considerably more detailed than their previous iterations.
3: I written about how one of the reasons Telltale really shines through is that unlike other RPGs, there are no “good” or “bad” choices in their games and how they put you in a spot by asking you to make one tough decisions after the other during your gameplay. While that remains true with The Final Season as well, the stakes feel considerably higher this time around, particularly due to increased emphasis on how much AJ will learn from your actions and choices. “They fuck you up, mum and dad,” and all that.
1: While a combat system, 360° camera control, yada yada yada, are a welcome addition, it a testament of how much Telltale abused their precious formula that even the introduction of a barebones system becomes a sight for sore eyes. It’s not a full fledged, or even a fully thought of, system. There are significant hiccups throughout, from random button prompts when there’s none required to the absolutely terrible aiming mechanism.
2: The ending feels about five epilogues too long. (You’ll know what I mean when you see it.)
The Walking Dead: The Final Season focuses on the relationship between Clementine and AJ, quite similar to how the original did with Lee and Clementine, to invent riveting gameplay moments. Unfortunately, the game is brought down by its legacy, its ambitions, and circumstances beyond it control, to ultimately deliver a bittersweet ending.