Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Skybound Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 12, 2018 (EP1: EU & NA) / September 25, 2018 (EP2: EU & NA) / January 15, 2019 (EP3: EU & NA) / March 26, 2019 (EP4: EU & NA)
A Turbulent end to a Modern well-crafted Tale.
One game is all a company needs to become recognized, be it for good or for bad. Case and Point: Telltale games was a company with moderate success until it got access to The Walking Dead Franchise in 2012 and decided to make an episodic game series out of it. Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season One was a major hit, attracting many players with its gripping story, full of twists and turns that are a result of the choices made by the player throughout the adventure and that surely made some players cry with its conclusion, myself included. The first season ended up winning the Game Of The Year award, which increased the amount of interest in the game and the amazing developer behind it, Telltale Games.
The studio ended up making many other projects, such as Batman, Tales Of Borderland and Minecraft, but Clementine’s saga was near and dear to the developers’ and players’ hearts, so it was just a matter of time until a Second Season was released, being followed by a Third one, that was also called The New Frontier. With their success, The Fourth and Final Season was announced, being the first season to release on a Nintendo console.
The first episode had already released in August and the second episode was scheduled for release, when Telltale went bankrupt. After uncertainty, Skybound saved The Final Season, hiring ex-employees from Telltale to finish the game and releasing the final two episodes in January and March of 2019. Now that Clem’s saga is over, after such turbulent history, is time to check if the Fourth season ended it with a high note. So, let’s do it. The Fourth season keeps the use of the characteristic comic-inspired art style, created and cemented on the first season, it still fits well the scenarios and characters, giving them a unique look, even 6 years later. That doesn’t mean that small tweaks weren’t made to make characters and scenarios look sharp and a bit more realistic.
I caught myself fascinated with a few scenes that looked beautifully designed and composed or with a few character models, mainly Clementine, that looked amazingly done and realistic. For the first time, they also made an opening for this final season, giving it an even bigger vibe of a TV Show, which most will certainly appreciate. Of course, the Switch version doesn’t look as good as the PC or other console versions, but the visual downgrades are, like most of the time, only really noticeable if you go looking for them. The scenarios and characters still look beautiful and well made, whether you are playing on TV mode or in handheld form and will still help deliver the adventure they created.
The game also runs smoothly enough so that it doesn’t impact the flow that the game requires. A few stuttering and frame drops were noticeable here and there throughout the four episodes, but none of them are really impactful on the experience or make you lose focus in what is really important. The audio department is also executed with quality as the soundtrack creates the mood of each scene and helps guide the focus and bring certain feelings on the player. The title screen and end credit songs are always spot on and some even can stay with you beyond the credits (some are returning songs from previous seasons, but they still fit remarkably well).
The sound effect is another aspect that doesn’t disappoint. It helps set the atmosphere while also inducing certain emotions on the player and the use of 3D surround sounds create an even more interesting and immersive experience, although I fill it could be used more efficiently to improve the story. So, I totally recommend playing the game with headphones on, if possible.
Gameplay wise, The Final Season, practicality, doesn’t introduce any new element, but just uses what has been created on the first season and refined in the subsequent ones and in other Telltale games. That means that it is still comprised of three gameplay segments: choosing what to say or what to do when prompted by the story, a series of Quick time events, when action is involved, and some environment exploration.
This repetition of the established formula can be tiresome for a few players, mainly if they recently played one or more Telltale games. Overall, it still works, since it is really well suited to what Telltale set to do: to tell their tales while allowing players input to influence them.
Moreover, these inputs or choices have stakes, which the game makes sure to remind you, as a wrong decision can lead to a character hating you, messing your plans or even dying. This season also amplifies the stakes as your choices also affects what AJ learns and does, meaning he will grow to be what you choose to teach him.
Even with the choices, what happens with Clem and AJ in the end, is fixed and it gave Telltale the chance to create a nice farewell for this franchise (and the own company). However, it also gave the feeling that some of the choices I made weren’t relevant, as they only really impacted the fate of the characters Clem and AJ met on their journey.
The Final Season’s story begins a while after the end of The New Frontier and features several tie-ins with all the previous seasons and the choices you made in them. So if you haven’t played the previous seasons, I strongly recommend that you do so. It is possible to jump right into this one and use the initial story builder to make some of the choices from previous seasons. Even so, I fell that this way reduces the emotional connection you may create, reducing your enjoyment of the final season.
If you have played the previous seasons, you can carry your save from them to this game. It probably worked well while Telltale still existed, but now, I had a hard time to transfer my save, which resulted in me, giving up and using the story builder to replicate some my choices.
When we meet Clem again in the beginning of the season, she has already reunited with Alvin Jr. (AJ) and they have already been for a while on the road, as she teaches him how to survive in this post-apocalyptic world. As they meet a surviving group of children, the story takes a bunch of crazy, unexpected and interesting turns, full of hard choices to make, gruesome deaths and even a return of a familiar face.
The quality seen in the previous seasons’ stories are still present in this one and you will surely like what you will play. The structure of episodes are similar to previous seasons and the reduced number of episodes allowed the season to develop fast and to not overstay its welcome. Personally, I still prefer the first season, but this story, especially the end, made me feel a bit emotive in some occasions, just like the original one. Finally, for those wondering if Telltale’s bankruptcy affected the quality of the experience, don’t worry, you can pick it you without any fear. It is almost impossible to notice any difference in quality between the first two episodes and the other two.
Despite all the turbulent history behind its development, The Walking Dead: Final Season is a well crafted final chapter to Clementine’s story and is sure to warm the hearts of those following it since the beginning. If you have already played the previous three seasons, you really can’t miss this final and emotional one. On the other hand, if you haven’t, I do recommend playing them all before, to truly enjoy what the final season has to offer. The first one is already available on Switch and, with luck, the other two eventually will.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Skybound Games
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This post was written by Renanp2