Title: The Walking Dead: The Final Season
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Audience: Mature 17+ Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £18.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
After years on the road facing threats both living and dead, a secluded school might finally be Clementine and AJ’s chance for a home. But protecting it will mean sacrifice. In this gripping, emotional final season, your choices define your relationships, shape your world, and determine how Clementine’s story ends.
Warning – This review contains mild spoilers for The Walking Dead video game franchise Season 1 – 3.
Since 2012, Telltale Games have released three main episode-based seasons of The Walking Dead, exploring the eponymous zombie-ridden world through a set of new characters not featured in the TV hit. These games centre around the choices you make and the impact these decisions have on other characters and the world around you. Major decisions have no clear consequence, resulting in thought-provoking situations where your answers are neither right or wrong. While the final destination is set, the journey you embark upon, and your changing relationship with different characters, is why the title has become so well-loved.
While each season had a different protagonist, the franchise as a whole has revolved around one character: a young girl named Clementine. Throughout the series, Clementine has matured with her audience, and in Season 4 we find her, aged 16, searching for a new home for herself and an adopted companion named AJ. Season 4 marks a change in the approach to this central character; rather than defining her traits, the player now focuses on shaping AJ and the person he will become. As you work your way through the four episodes, you encounter new communities with different outlooks and intentions, and the stakes rise tremendously to a climactic finale.
One thing worth noting is the controversy surrounding this season’s release. In September 2018, Telltale Games announced a major studio closure and production of the Walking Dead promptly ceased. Staff were given 30 minutes to vacate the building, and the lack of severance sparked outrage across online communities. Though the series was eventually picked up by SkyBound Entertainment, and many of the original developers were able to continue their work on closing Clementine’s story, I felt conflicted going into this final chapter. On the one hand, I was thrilled to complete the journey, but on the other, I struggled to come to terms with how Telltale closed their doors and let go of so many employees.
Audio and Visual
When it comes to video game characters, Clementine holds a special place in my heart. Voice actor, Melissa Hutchison, continues to steal the show with a dynamic and weighty performance, perfectly encapsulating the past toll events have taken on the character. She is complemented by a great supporting cast and a well-written script, resulting in characters that feel genuinely complex. The soundtrack, which includes licensed songs from Hannah Jern Miller and The Be Good Tanyas, is excellent and beautifully conveys the finality of Clementine’s journey.
Telltale’s signature cel shaded graphics are well-suited to The Walking Dead series and reflect the franchise’s comic book heritage. Season 4 has made notable improvements to the facial animations; these are a lot more polished in comparison to earlier seasons and effectively display feelings of concern or disinterest during conversations. This is particularly evident for the main cast. However, expressions for secondary characters were not always consistent with what they were saying.
Since Season 1, The Walking Dead has been plagued with performance issues. Hard crashes were frequent, and it wasn’t uncommon for players to lose their saved data entirely. Thankfully, this was not the case for the final season, and I experienced a generally smooth performance. The only downsides I encountered were frame rate issues during action-heavy scenes in Episodes 3 and 4 and extended loading times that unfortunately diluted the tension between pressing moments.
Gameplay and Replayability
The Walking Dead has always been light in terms of gameplay mechanics, consisting almost exclusively of button-prompts to confirm conversation choices or execute combat. Consequences for your actions are not always clear, and there were several occasions where I had to pause the game to contemplate my decision. On one occasion a choice I made resulted in instant death. The abrupt nature in which this ended the game completely threw me, and I can’t understand the reason for its inclusion. When the whole point of the game is to work through your choices, regardless of their outcome, it forces an unrealistic attitude of ‘restart and try again’. Had the story truly been tailored to the way I played, I wouldn’t have made it past Episode 2.
A sequence of actions and puzzles complements conversations. Telltale has done a solid job in tidying up the gameplay and successfully implementing some much-needed improvements. Combat is more varied, allowing you to stun or kill during encounters with the undead. The shooting mechanics have also improved and signal a welcome change from the detached, endless button-prompt combinations of previous seasons. The action sequences are well choreographed and feel incredibly stressful and intense as they play out. A new over-the-shoulder camera is a fantastic addition and has greatly improved the series’ cumbersome traversal.
For the first time in the franchise, I felt incentivised to play the season again. This was mainly due to the revamped trophy system and the inclusion of collectables. These are not merely a tacked-on mechanic but actually, serve to develop Clementine’s character and build your involvement with her further. For trophy/achievement hunters, this entry in the series may take a couple of playthroughs to achieve 100%, which wasn’t the case for Seasons 1-3. More so than in any previous season there are different routes to take in each episode. Do you choose to help your new group of companions by hunting rabbits or fishing? Do you choose romance or to keep a relationship platonic? Experiencing these changes offers greater replay value and will keep additional playthroughs feeling fresh. While the lack of a chapter select may be a hindrance for some players, and I was more than happy to replay this season and spend some additional time in Clementine’s final outing.
Overall, I was very satisfied with The Walking Dead: The Final Season. I have my reservations regarding the ending, but for me, a game like this is all about the journey. Telltale have implemented some much-needed gameplay improvements, and their impact on overall performance was much appreciated. There is replay value here for those who enjoy trophies/achievements and for players wanting to see the permutations of the branching story path. If this is Clementine’s farewell, thank you to SkyBound Entertainment for concluding the story and giving this much-loved character the send-off she deserves.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Season Pass on the Playstation Store at the following link: https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP2026-CUSA12026_00-TWDS40000000LSPB