Also On: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher: Skybound Games
Developer: Still Not Bitten
I don?t think anyone expected the emotional rollercoaster of the first season for Telltale?s The Walking Dead. We already had an idea of what to expect from a mechanical standpoint, Telltale had been in the adventure game business for a bit prior to The Walking Dead, but I can?t think of a single release from the developer/publisher that delivered on the same experience. The final episode in season one delivered a gut-wrenching sucker punch to fans that was virtually unrivaled at the time. The final episode in this, The Final Season of Telletale?s The Walking Dead, will also elicit a strong emotional response in a different (but fulfilling!) way.
I covered the first episode for this season a while back, but when episode two was scheduled to hit Telltale also imploded, leaving the development staff out of work with virtually no warning, and the initial thought was that the season would not get finished. I was about midway through a review for the second episode at that point, but seeing how the folks who had worked on the game had been treated soured my opinion of the publisher so much, I had a hard time coming up with something that felt adequate at the time. It seemed wrong to review the game and not talk about everything surrounding it, but at the same time it was a solid episode that I would have scored well. I fully expected to not revisit the series again, and moved on to other things.
Thankfully, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman?s entertainment company Skybound stepped in. Skybound Entertainment brought back the original team for the Final Season to give Clementine?s story closure, with two more episodes being released to wrap things up. The third episode dropped in January of this year, and last week, the final episode dubbed ?Take Us Back? released on consoles and PC. I had some catching up to do, and the switch from Steam to the Epic Store sort of interfered with the progress I had made up to that point, so I opted instead to just move over to PS4 for this review of The Final Season.
I?m happy to say that The Final Season turned out really well, and if you fell off after episode two, I do think it?s worth coming back. As someone that was fully invested in the character of Clementine, The Final Season really does her justice, and her arc comes to a satisfying, well thought out conclusion. I?ll avoid any spoilers here, of course, but there?s some poignant, stand out moments delivered in the conclusion that are worth seeing and experiencing for yourself. There?s some interesting bits to the expanded cast for this season, and the way the developers deliver on Clementine?s influence over A.J.?s behavior is really well done. There?s even a neat little shift in perspective in the last episode that?s interesting, and promises some element of change in how these games are designed if we see other efforts down the road.
Episode 3 also delivers one of my favorite moments in the season, and it?ll be a real treat for fans of Lee specifically. I like that the series hasn?t really relied on this particular approach before, so the sequence came as a surprise for me and sort of took me off guard when it happened. It?s one of the more touching moments in the entire series, and feels as beneficial to the player as it does to the characters in that moment. I also found it intriguing seeing Clementine struggle with A.J.?s behavior as the season progressed, realizing at multiple points that she wasn?t the mother figure she was trying to be, and seeing A.J.?s emotional responses suffer as a result. It?s a dark angle to take, but one that certainly felt appropriate for the series.
The Final Season isn?t without issues, but most of that boils down to the technical side of things. The Telletale games have been no strangers to bugs and glitches, and The Final Season is no different. The most egregious issue I had came from a sequence early in episode 3 that would consistently occur during an interrogation. It halted my progress in that episode altogether, and the only fix (after multiple attempts) was to back out to the PS4 dashboard, quit the game entirely, and restart. I?d have less of an issue with this if it was only a week or two after the episode released, but it?s been two months at this point, and the issue has been persistent for other players when I did a quick Google search. Outside of that, I?d just run into the occasional choppy framerate, stuttering, and longer than normal load sequences, which aren?t great but at least aren?t game breaking either.
Still, despite those issues, Telltale?s The Walking Dead has a great conclusion, and I?m happy the team responsible for it was able to see this through to the end. It?s a shame that their original parent company marred the overall experience significantly, but their ability to bounce back under another publisher and deliver to this degree is exceptional. I?m both sad and happy that this is the conclusion of Clementine?s tale, but the character arc is so well delivered, you won?t be disappointed.
Note: Skybound Games provided us with a The Walking Dead: The Final Season PS4 code for review purposes.