Few could have believed that seven years ago when Telltale began telling their own story in The Walking Dead world that the series would end up coming so far. After four seasons that started with Lee and continued with Clementine, fans have watched Clementine’s journey for many years as she continued to grow and survive in a world that takes pity on no one. Now after nineteen episodes and the closure of the original company, the story comes to an end in The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Take Us Back
Considering this is the final episode of the season as well as the final episode of the series it is worth noting that readers should play through at least the most recent episode before continuing to read as some spoilers regarding major events that occurred in Broken Toys will be discussed below.
Picking up immediately after the explosion that capped off the end of Broken Toys, Clementine and AJ find themselves struggling to survive on the flaming sinking boat that once served as a stronghold for Lily’s group. Regardless of the choice players made at the end of the previous episode events play out in a similar enough fashion that finds the pair left with very little resources as a massive amount of Walkers begin to flood the area, drawn both by James’ previous actions and the noise from the explosion. With little to rely on but her own wits and the help of a few others, Clementine must still try to survive and find her way home once more.
While the previous episode may not have suffered too much from the unstable situation the developers found themselves in it does come through a bit more in Take Us Back as the episode finds itself struggling to find a solid enough pace while trying to tie up loose ends. This primarily comes down to the fact that there are really only is one major decision to make this episode that also ends up betraying the fact that most of your previous handlings of AJ really don’t matter too much in the end. Witnessing the outcome of both choices shows that, outside of a few minor dialogue changes, how AJ ends up acting and the choices he ends up making on his own boil down to only a single choice by the player, rather than the culmination of a season which just ends up feeling a bit disappointing.
What isn’t disappointing are the stakes that constantly end up getting raised as players progress. While danger was always nipping at Clementine’s heels the tenacious nature of the final enemy and the zombies themselves lead to some intensely emotional sequences before culminating in an incredibly touching series of events that take place between Clementine and AJ. In fact there even is a flashback sequence that finally touches upon how exactly she managed to find him once again between season three and four, though the exact circumstances about what is happening there, as well as numerous other elements, are left vague.
Obviously the ending for such a long running series will leave players feeling a number of different emotions and it is difficult to really say just how someone should feel after everything is said and done. While there are still loose ends that were never tied up and the nature of the ending does end up being drawn out a bit more than it should, we do find a solid enough finale to Clementine’s journey here even if it may leave some feeling a bit unsatisfied by the time the credits roll.
Similar to past episodes players will be given quick time event sequences to survive against both the undead and living threats though it is worth noting that this time around the game is far less forgiving in some sequences so players will need to be on their toes to avoid getting killed. There are only a few real exploration sequences and if you have been gathering the various collectibles throughout the season there are bonus dialogue scenes and thoughts given by AJ after a certain point in the episode.
It is also nice to note that there is a different feeling once a certain shift occurs in the episode. Rather than making timed dialogue choices using the usual Telltale system players are instead given multiple options for dialogue and actions with a much more forgiving timer. Perhaps this is a sign of a difference to come should the development team continue with another series in the future or simply a shift between characters but it is a nice touch.
Visuals & Audio
The shift between studios seems to have at least settled in better this time around as Take Us Back manages to avoid any of the graphical glitches that plagued the previous episode and features a number of great looking sequences and detailed character models. This is especially true during a few of the more haunting sequences in the game involving a certain persistent enemy and the finale as well.
The soundtrack features a fairly standard set of tunes that players are familiar with but the real credit here goes to the voice actors. More than ever some of these sequences needed to shine through with strong performances and all of the voice work managed to do that splendidly.
It has been a long journey since Clementine made her way down from her tree house to save Lee but now her journey has come to a fairly solid ending. While the lack of a meaningful player choice throughout the season is a bit of a damper and many plot threads are left hanging, this at least is an ending that may never have happened and while everyone may take to the ending in a different way, it still packs an emotional punch.