The Walking Dead: The Final Season begins with a beautifully animated synopsis of Clementine’s story so far, and it’s testament to the insignificance of the previous season that no more than ten seconds are spent recapping its events. Telltale’s been through a bit of a rough patch behind-the-scenes, but there are signs in Episode 1 that it’s beginning to get its mojo back.
As has been widely publicised prior to release, this four instalment series will bring an end to its adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s iconic comic. In a particularly neat twist, the setup mirrors that of 2012’s award-winning first season, with returning protagonist Clem tasked with caring for her adopted child AJ – just like Lee did for her all those years ago.
The engine has improved drastically since last year’s Batman: The Enemy Within, with facial animations being the real highlight. Characters are now able to interact using simple expressions and eye contact, which has a massive impact on the story-telling. It’s still janky and fundamentally a Telltale game, but you’d have to be a Walker not to notice the vast enhancements.
The gameplay has also changed slightly, too. Gone is the unwieldy cursor of old, and it’s been replaced by over-the-shoulder exploration. In a way there are less things you can interact with due to the adoption of this format, but combat’s no longer purely QTE focused, with some sequences allowing you to either stun or shiv the undead. It’s unwieldy, but it’s another alteration.
Collectibles have been implemented as well, with Clem and AJ’s new safehouse able to be customised depending on the things you find. We anticipate that the room will be decorated over the course of the campaign, which should give a nice sense of persistence between episodes. It ultimately means that you’re going to have to work a little harder for that Platinum Trophy this time.
Of course, this is still an interactive story at heart, with branching dialogue options at its beating heart. The return of Clem in the lead role means that the stakes are immediately raised, and her relationship with AJ brings purpose to her actions in a way that previous seasons have lacked. It finally feels like she’s fighting for something again, which is a welcome change.
Without spoiling anything, the pair start out alone but eventually stumble upon a camp, which has a Lord of the Flies flavour to it as it’s entirely occupied by kids. The absence of any adults makes for a more teen flavoured dynamic, which seems somewhat cynical on the surface after the success of Life Is Strange, but given the apocalyptic nature of the plot it quickly emerges as its own thing.
One of the things that Telltale’s always been good at is establishing strong supporting characters quickly, and given the speed with which key cast members are killed, that’s a good thing. While it’s too early to draw any firm conclusions on this season’s roster, there are already one or two standouts – and the game neatly lets you determine which one you want to spend time with in one sequence.
It does still feel like you’re shading in the details of a story that’s motoring in one direction anyway, but it would be absurd to expect Detroit: Become Human-esque branching from a release on this kind of budget. The most important thing is that the plot puts you into positions that will make you panic, and there are plenty of moments where your palms will be perspiring while the clock counts down.
It’s practically impossible to make any firm conclusions about The Walking Dead: The Final Season in its first episode, but the engine improvements have really helped step up the storytelling, while the new cast of characters seem interesting at this early stage. While we could take or leave the gameplay tweaks, particularly in the combat department, it’s already clear that the stakes are going to be much higher in this concluding season than the series’ previous disappointing outing – and for now, that’s enough for us.
Interestingly, finished batman enemy within last night and thought it was one of their best yet - and for the first time in a tt game, didnt experience any glitches. Cant wait for a 3rd season!
And cant wait to play this, but as always will be waiting till all the eps are out to play through in one go. And when its half price. The season pass is almost always on sale after the first 2 eps are released.
Roughly how long does it take to complete the episode Sammy? Are they longer to account for the shorter season length?
@Rob_230 Not really. About 2 hours 30 minutes, I'd say. I also liked Batman Enemy Within by the way!
I am not excited about the additions to the gameplay. But otherwise, I'm glad we appear to be back to normality after that dreadful third season.
@get2sammyb Thanks Sammy. Great review btw!
@get2sammyb decent score.. The Walking Dead games are falling apart since Season 1 was great
@porhawj2016 I liked Season 2, but it's been downhill a bit since then.
I loved season 2 because the characters felt more real and dynamic than in 1. In the latter, take your first impression of a character and it's never changed or challenged. Larry seems like a grumpy git who's only nice to his daughter... and that doesn't change till he dies. Lilly seems like a witch who's only nice to her dad... and that doesn't change till she dies. Even Clem and Lee. He seems like a good guy with a kind heart, and he is. No surprises or developments. She seems like a smart kid with a kind heart, and she is. Sure I'd got more attached to them, but my first impression totally summed them up throughout.
In S2 my impression changed over and over, I really felt like I was learning about them, that different sides came out as they interacted with different people. One guy seems really reliable and on top of things, then he risks the lives of everyone so he can get frisky with a new character. It didn't come across as random, it's just that there's been no one offering before then.
Tbf to S3 that also had that quality, but to a less profound degree.
@Matroska You have been asked several times now to watch the language. Please be more mindful of it in the future.
Thanks for understanding
The thing with Telltale games is, for as much as I love their stories, it's virtually an animated movie we are playing...the choices are pretty much useless since their ending is almost the same anyway...in the previous batman game you had 2 choices of last episode basically and even that I feel like it's lazy...
The animations have been janky for years, we even had lag in the Batman episodes in a damn movie basically lol
They need to step it up and take a look at Detroit! Even if you feel that game has not enough outcomes at least the choices are meaningful, you actually feel impact on the story!
Now that I know Telltale games I don't feel the urge to buy them right away anymore so I'll just wait for sales everytime...
Also, the second season of TWD was just ok for me, Lee had a lot more impact in me than Clem and the new characters were boring anyway...but I'm curious where this will end up.
Also I didn't even know there was a third season and this one was the fourth season lol that's how much I don't care anymore
I'm looking forward to this, I'll probably wait for all the episodes to come out though. I don't know about you guys but I loved 'The New Frontier'. I thought it was really well written.
@porhawj2016 It's because a few of the main writers left and formed the studio that did Firewatch and did that game.
I wasn't aware of that, interesting to know. Always a bit worrying when writers leave mid game or between sequels. Some deal with that better than others of course.
@LieutenantFatman Yeah the two main writers of TWD Season 1 left after that and formed Camp Santo and developed Firewatch, which was one reason there was so much time between Season 1 and Season 2.
From my understand there wasn't any bad blood between them and Telltale just that they wanted to start up their own company.
@AFCC I just don't think they'll ever be able to do something like Detroit on this budget and timescale. I know what you're saying and it is a fair criticism, but I think as long as you have a good illusion of choice and can put the player in difficult situations (which Telltale generally does well) then you can mask the fact that you're not actually affecting anything.
@Tasuki I'm sorry for breaking the rules, but if I can explain, I didn't think that word would be a problem since it also has a conventional, non-offensive meaning. Besides, phrases like "life's a b***h" are just common phrases that aren't seen as particularly offensive. I mean, I'm guessing insulting words like "idiot" and "scum" etc aren't banned despite being insulting and offensive to the recipient.
I'm not trying to argue against what you said, I'm just trying to explain that it's quite fuzzy what is and isn't a banned word.
[Spoilers ahead for Season 1, even though how the heck haven't you played it yet?]
@AFCC The thing with Lee is that the supposed character arc was "this guy is a murderer, off to prison, what a terrible guy!" and then you'd get to see how nice, sensitive and wise he was through the game. The problem was, right off that bat it was obvious he wasn't an evil murderer, but rather a good man that had done a bad thing in the heat of the moment. It never moved beyond that. He was fatherly to Clem at the start, he remained fatherly. I think the
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
ending of the game where he dies was so effective simply because the main character dying is a massive jolt to the player and breaks the supposed rules of videogames that anyone else can die apart from you. I don't think it's a credit to his character, if anyone else had been the main character and died while being fatherly to Clem, it would have had the same effect.
@Matroska As per the community rules
Do not use profanity; Use of unsavoury language including profanity and swearing is not acceptable, please remember that this website has users of all ages.
We all.know.what those words are there's really nothing convential and non offensive, others they wouldn't be considered profanity.
@get2sammyb I'm not going to say that I don't enjoy their games, I would be lying, Borderlands was one of the best for me, Batman season 1 was great, WD season 1 was one of the best ever...But when I reach the end of those games I don't feel the urge to play again cause I feel like I've seen 90% of the game already...
I wish they could try a bit more with the choices but I understand that they push out so many franchises that it must be hard...
Also that engine needs a serious update xD
@Matroska I honestly teared up in that ending! I felt like I was losing someone real D: that season 1 will never ever be topped
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