The Mercy of the Living
Say what you will about the current state of The Walking Dead on TV, I myself gave up on it a few years ago after I noticed a concerning trend of declining quality with each new season. However, I will defend season 1 to the grave, reanimate as a walker and continue to defend it some more. Frank Darabont managed to create a show that perfectly encapsulated the feeling of the comic. Sure, it’s a show with zombies but the focus is very much on the human survivors and the drama that surrounds them as they try to survive and understand the new world they’ve found themselves in. All this culminates in a very melancholic and human feeling with stellar performances from the cast of actors and a great story.
Telltale managed to capture this very same feeling with their own love letter to the comics. Taking the Point-and-Click blueprint but with an added touch of modern gaming improvements and dishing the whole thing out via episodes, Telltale managed to create a hot new trend. This new “Graphic Adventure” type of gameplay seemed to fit the intense and personal storytelling that The Walking Dead demands.
Like the TV show, Telltale took inspiration directly from the comic books. Instead of retreading ground with another story featuring Rick and friends, players instead took control of Lee Everett, a professor at the University of Georgia who happens to be on his way to prison during the first day of the outbreak for accidentally murdering a State Senator who was sleeping with his wife. Luckily, or not so luckily, the apocalypse causes his police escort to crash thus freeing him from his fate.
Shortly after waking up, Lee finds a young girl, Clementine, surviving by herself inside her treehouse. This is where players realise that while Lee is the protagonist, this isn’t really his story. Clementine is instantly likeable and has no trouble making Lee—and the player—want to protect her from anything and everything this new girtty world can throw at her. This is most definitely Clementine’s story.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season Platinum Review
The Long Road Ahead
Playing the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead on my fat PS3 back in April of 2012 was an incredible experience. Like when I watched the first episode of the TV show, the credits rolled after the brief 2 hours I played and I instantly knew that I had found something that really resonated with me. I was left with that melancholic “well what do I do with myself now?” feeling you get after finishing a really good book. I replayed that first episode 3 more times that day to make sure I saw every possible permutation of my actions.
Of course, there was a bit of a wait before the next episode (just a little over a month) and in that time I was constantly wondering how the scenes in the “next time on” section would link together and what else might happen. It was like this after every episode and when the final 5th episode landed, I made sure to take my time so as not to prematurely end what had become somewhat of a ritual for me. I’m sure most people know exactly how that 5th season ended but in an effort not to spoil it for those reading who have yet to experience the series, I’ll instead say this. I was completely stunned and as the credits began to crawl down my screen, I put my controller down and just sat there listening to Alela Diane’s Take Us Back.
When season 2 came around just over a year later, I was thrilled to continue Clementine’s story, but apprehensive about the quality of the story after the events of season 1. I’m glad that my anxiety was completely unfounded because season 2 turned out to be a worthy successor and managed to keep up the same level of drama and tension of the first season. The final episode came and went and I was once again left with my thoughts and hunger for the next installment.
Season 3 was okay, I guess.
Finally, Season 4 was approaching! I couldn’t wait to witness how Clementine’s story would end. Would it be bittersweet? or just bitter? There was only one way to find out so I grabbed my bank card and—Damn, Telltale fired everyone and the game was pulled from online stores.
While the sudden news of Telltale’s closure was a bit of a shock, Skybound Entertainment managed to swoop in and pick up the development for the last 2 episodes thus
reviving reanimating the final season. For reasons unknown to me (I was probably too busy trying to earn 100 platinums within 12 months when the last episode was released), I wouldn’t end up experiencing the final season until recently.
Amid the Ruins
Right off the bat, The Final Season has a major graphical upgrade. Buildings and trees off in the distance have an inky black look to them which goes a long way in making the game feel like a comic book come to life. The colour palette was also changed to try match something you’d expect in a mature comic book.
This new look is certainly visually appealing but it creates a weird divide between the look of the first 2 seasons and the final one. Season 3 is even more of an outlier as the visuals in that one have a weird greasey quality to them. Thankfully, Skybound Entertainment relased the Definitive Series edition which includes all 4 seasons, the 400 Days DLC episode, and the Michone episodes but with the superbly updated graphics of the final season.
The Final Season addition’s don’t stop at new visuals, though. There’s a new over the shoulder style camera for the hub world sections which is a major improvement over the old camera system that was tied to the location of the on-screen cursor which often lead to some awkward camera angles. It also helps with finding items in the world which could be a hassle in the older seasons.
Another great improvement is the combat sections. Previously, you would be thrown a few QTEs or have to place your cursor over an enemy and hit . In the Final Season, you get to actually walk around and attack enemies with . This could easily become quite mundane if it weren’t for the inclusion of being able to stun enemies with a swift kick to the already crumbly knees with a tap of the button. This makes some segments feel more intense when you’re being ganged up on by 3 or more walkers.
Keeping up with the improvements, the tropy list has also been given some extra attention. Season 1 handed out a platinum to any gamer who dared be brave and skillful enough to play until the end of the last episode… Which some people liked, but others in the trophy hunting comunnity thought was a bit cheap. The Final Season has added a few missable trophies which would normally require an extra playthrough and even some collectible related trophies. Granted, these aren’t super hard trophies and the platinum journey will still be a somewhat laid back afair, but at least there’s some challenge now.
These collectibles aren’t very well hidden and they always appear during hub world sections or any time you can physically walk Clementine around so finding them is a breeze. They do serve a larger function as you can place them in Clementine’s room in each episode—there’s even a trophy for doing so—and they fit really well into the story. You won’t be chasing feathers that your younger brother conveniently lost (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed II), but instead you’ll pick up a toy that AJ can play with or a bouquet of plastic flowers to bring a little colour to the room.
Sometimes you’ll be a given an option that will send Clementine to one of two locations essentially locking you out of being able to collect any items, but there’ll likely be a missible trophy to be had. One section early on can send you either fishing or hunting. If you choose to go fishing, you will have some free time to go collectible hunting, but if you choose hunting, you will instead have to beat on a walker for fun which will unlock a missable trophy. Of course, you can always back up your save before decisions like this to prevent a 2nd playthrough.
I think the best part about The Final Season, is the care the writers took with Clementine’s character. Despite spending her formative years surviving in a harsh wasteland full of undead monsters trying to devour her with the ferocity of an American during Black Friday who desperately wants a new flat-screen TV and absolutely WILL slap a child to make that happen, she’s still the same kind and loveable character from before.
Ultimately, The Walking Dead: The Final Season feels just as well written and emotional as the first season, and it was an absolute delight to see the person Clementine grew up to be. When you consider we, the player, had a lot to do with that over the years. If you have still yet to see how Clem’s story ends for yourself, then I absolutely recommend you pick up a copy. Or buy the Definitive Series and play through all 4 seasons with the new graphics.
Experiencing the story
The Walking Dead: The Final Season Trophy Guide
Can you survive the Walkers? Better yet, can you survive the survivors?
That concludes my The Walking Dead: The Final Season review. If you enjoyed reading it, please let us know! It means the world to us when we hear feedback, and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!
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