So, another Telltale series comes to an end, and it’s “The Walking Dead” at that. It’s been a long, dark journey, but is it a satisfying conclusion? Does it match Season 1’s finale?
Spoilers for the previous episode follow. Also, if you don’t want to know anything about this episode’s content, avoid the review until you’ve played it. Should you download it? Yes, you should. It’s a good episode overall, but with one major problem.
The episode picks up right where episode 4 left off, with the group mid-gunfight with some Russians. Things quickly resolve themselves however, and the one surviving member leading Clem and friends to a house that’s apparently stocked with supplies. Things rather rapidly degrade over the course of the episode, with Kenny’s increasingly unhinged and brutal behaviour being a massive point of contention for the group and Clem having to decide whose side she’s on, should the worst come to the worst. It’s a dire episode, even by TWD standards, and a lot of the choices for me were rather one-sided, considering I’d already decided my allegiance. There’s one particularly dark section right near the end, and overall the episode is good on its own, and a nice, dark wrap up for the whole season. There’s just one big problem though, and that’s with the choice at the end.
SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE EPISODE (AND THE FINALE OF SEASON 1)
So at the end of the episode you’ll end up arriving at Wellington- a community guarded by high walls. I arrived with Kenny, and upon being told that we couldn’t go in, Kenny begged that Clementine and Rebecca’s Baby Alvin Jr be allowed entry at Kenny’s expense. Your final choice is whether to go in, or stay outside with Kenny/whoever’s with you. Now, Kenny has a big, heartfelt speech about how Clem deserves better, and how he’s such a piece of shit and begs her to stay here where she’ll be safe. Purely because of this, I agreed to stay at Wellington. I looked it up, and staying out with Kenny is a perfectly viable choice in which they walk off together to go on adventures. I may be over-reacting, but that ruins it for me. “Obviously I would stay with Kenny if I could, but this is for the best- he wants me to stay here. Wait, I CAN stay with Kenny and everything’s fine? Well why would I pick anything else?” I want it on record- I’m going to go back and change my final choice. Killing Lee at the end of Season 1 to stop him coming back as a zombie felt like THE choice, but either choice made sense in the situation- either Clem gives them both an act of mercy, or can’t bring herself to pull the trigger. In my final situation in season 2, there’s an obvious choice there to the point that the alternative doesn’t even make sense to me. It’s a shame, considering the build up it had.
So, as a finale it’s good, apart from that last choice (which as I said, I’m going to go back and change). It’s not as good as the finale to season 1, but it still wraps up the season well, and as an episode it’s a good one.
On the season as a whole:
Parts of it really worked, and parts of it fall short of season 1, in my opinion. The whole interlude with Carver felt a bit throw-away despite taking up a good chunk of the season’s plot. Replacing the driving narrative of Lee doing everything he can to take care of Clem and prepare her for her inevitable life without him is a less narrow story of Clementine basically trying to survive. I appreciate the focus being squarely on Clem and how she reacts to the other characters- you’re often acting in your own interest and using the other characters, but can also form meaningful connections to the characters, particularly Kenny, whose comeback I particularly enjoyed. I also like how he, for better or worse, becomes a defining part of the plot, especially in the later episodes. The transfer from looking after Clem to actually playing as her is skillfully handled, and she’s still a very likable character- more so than every other character in the story. The season overall feels different enough to the first one to be noteworthy in that regard- it actually feels generally darker and bleaker (quite a feet considering how depressing the first season could be)- more nihilistic. Whereas Clem in the first season represented something hopeful and innocent, here she can be fully corrupted by the world she lives in (depending on your choices) and the whole thing points out the hopelessness of an apocalyptic scenario, in a way reminiscent of “The Last of Us” and “The Road”. It’s got some great flourishes that show off Telltale’s storytelling and how its skills have grown since season 1, and the choices (the most important part of the game) carry on the same standard as season 1- difficult, realistic and with not much time to make them. This season’s been a real good time, and between this and “The Wolf Among Us” it’s been a good year for Telltale.
It doesn’t have the same effect as Season 1, but it’s still a damn good story and a damn good game, and definitely worth your time. Just a shame about that final choice.
By James Lambert