‘Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1’ video game review
By Lauren Kelly, Graphics Manager
When the first season of The Walking Dead video game completed in 2012, it revolutionized storytelling in games and launched Telltale Games to the front of the pack. The game was released in five episodes over a seven-month period, with each episode running about two to three hours. Each episode was filled with tough decisions, emotional gut-punches, and enough humour and kindness to make you care about the characters.
In the first season you play as Lee and you discover a young girl, Clementine, who was left with a babysitter at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. As the player you help raise her and take care of her. The game handles her character deftly, making her loveable instead of annoying or frustrating. In the vein of previous adventure games, this one features puzzles, branching conversation trees, lasting impacts from your choices, and plenty of pointing and clicking.
The game was a massive hit, which led to Telltale Games obtaining many high-profile licenses and releasing games for the likes of Fables, Borderlands, Game of Thrones, and Minecraft, with wildly mixed results. They also released two more seasons of The Walking Dead, both of which revolve around or let the player play as Clementine as she grows up. Season two was received well but not as much so as the first, and season three was widely viewed as a step down for the much-loved series. I will admit that I skipped the latter half of season three; it just didn’t grip me that way the previous two had. However, I was still interested in giving the new season a chance and I’m very glad that I did.
We start the episode with Clementine in her late teens taking care of AJ, a hardened child of the apocalypse first introduced in season two. When we join them they’re on the move scavenging for food and they have nowhere to go. However, an accident leads to them being rescued by a group of young survivors who are unlike any characters we’ve seen so far. In true Walking Dead fashion the game lets us get to know all of the new characters, but unlike some other seasons they’re all pretty likeable. The episode is longer than those of the last few seasons (which have been closer to one and a half hours), clocking in at over two hours, and the twists and turns throughout the game keep it incredibly intriguing. I was genuinely shocked by the path it took and the cliff-hanger left me wishing the next episode was already out. On a story level, this was truly a return to the greatness of season one.
On the technical side, the game has innovated as well. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, with plenty of depth added and no sacrifice to the comic book style of the visuals. Gameplay is more interactive in that combat scenes that were once only quick time events now allow the player to freely move and dispatch the zombies with their own tactics. The game’s camera has switched to an over-the-shoulder view instead of a locked camera, which makes the game feel more immersive. Another small upgrade that I enjoyed is the addition of a little amusing blurb on the screen when you find an item in addition to Clementine’s dialogue. This ties into the next addition since now there are items that serve as collectibles to decorate the place where Clementine and AJ are staying in the episode.
Overall, the first episode is incredibly promising and is a must play for fans of the series and of Clementine. Sadly, the final season will only be four episodes instead of five, but the longer run-time should help make up for that. Episode two is slated for release September 25 and the full season pass for the game is $26.99. Do yourself a favour and get closure on this six-year-long story.