Please Note: Our The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 review contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1.
It’s impossible not to begin this review without mentioning the unfortunate and sudden “majority studio closure” that Telltale Games has had to make, resulting in 225 employees losing their jobs. It’s difficult to truly grasp how much hard work and man hours an incredibly skilled workforce must have endured into creating a series such as this one. For the team to just then be disbanded from their post without as much as a severance package for their efforts, is ultimately a negligent situation. In any case, while the affected staff will hopefully move onto bigger and better things, the future still looks very bleak when it comes to closing the lid on Clementine’s story. This may very well be a tale without the conclusion that the series deserves. At least, not in the form that we, as fans, would like to digest it as such.
Before I dig into what could potentially be the final chapter in Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, it’s worth bearing in mind what makes this particular corner of the industry so valuable. Games, regardless of their genre, are best to be experienced both solely by the player and with similar minds alike. To simply get a fix through watching someone else’s experience on YouTube or Twitch, you are submissively cuckolding yourself from the more fruitful and bigger picture. You can support your favourite streamer by all means, but, without the support from the fanbase who seek out such a genre, you merely risk sending its future to an early grave.
Unfortunately, in this case, it’s the genuine fans who have also been punished for their keen pledge to experience the complete story. That’s the result of an unfinished product that had been promised while still demanding payment in advance, a now all too common trait in the gaming industry. Recent news does suggesting that there may be a glimmer of hope for Clementine’s story to find closure by means of external support. While this may be highly possible, it still doesn’t distinguish the aching fact that those who have grafted on the series from the very beginning may never even reap back their just deserts.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1 ended with a certain bang that would shape the mind of young AJ forever. Although, not necessarily in the way a normal person would generally react, after blasting a hole in the head of an unarmed teenager. Children usually see the morals of the world to be black and white. It takes years of maturity to get a real grasp of understanding the importance of the “grey area.” Black and white can usually mean good or bad, or even right from wrong. In the case of young AJ living in a lawless world, the term can only translate into live or die.
In this episode, AJ begins to grasp the understanding of atonement. Yet, this new found knowledge leans less on the guilt for what he did and his reasons behind it, but more heavily on how he is portrayed by those who he now looks up to as friends. The gears also begin to shift on the other side of the fence. Emotions are mixed and on guard, resulting in executive decisions made to ensure that the original circle stays secure. While some of the gang are militant on their opinions, a certain situation can drive a humane choice to eventually support the untrustworthy.
As for Clementine, she’s the one still responsible for the survival and upbringing of AJ. She must also be aware of how a simple choice of words can affect the boy’s outlook in life. Her responsibility for him is put to the test even further as a familiar face from the past draws into her focus from the other end of the barrel. As a result of such a revelation, a new face enters the story. A young adult who has abandoned the safety of another group. A group that the fanbase of the comic series will certainly be aware of.
The pacing of this episode, in general, can ride too closely to the rhythm of the first. While the situations and moods have changed between our adolescent gang, certain interactive events just seem to hit a similar formulaic beat. At one point, Lois even pulls out the playing cards again for a bonding round of Flip, Marry and Avoid, as opposed to the Truth or Dare moment from the first episode. Maybe the next instalment would have had a round of Spin the Bottle thrown into the mix, but that’s something we may never know. The déjà vu doesn’t quite end there, either. The way certain elements of the plot can unfold fits the recycled tone that The Walking Dead universe can countlessly fall victim to. It is only the second episode after all, and could easily be using a cliched formula as a necessary transition into something much more interesting.
Without beating down on the episode too much, I do have to mention one peculiar eye-rolling ordeal that I did come across. After a certain choice that I made for Clementine, her path takes her to do a bit of astronomy with one of the supporting characters. This scene was clearly set up to drive a tone to conjure up a closer bond between the two individuals. Unfortunately, what it does instead, is completely spoil a potentially strong moment by shoe-horning in a tedious and unnecessary dot-to-dot mini-game. It is a portion of the story that felt heavily forced for gameplay’s sake and unbelievable enough to completely drag me out of the world for a brief moment in time.
However, the episode isn’t without its high points. The camera angles that capture the more tense situations and action pieces are wonderfully shot, as always. And despite the voice of a new stranger – who sounds like Cartman’s alter ego from South Park: The Fractured But Whole – the acting is as on point as it has ever been. The improved visuals and dynamic use of shadows in The Final Season really do make a difference to emphasise drama and emotion. Yet, despite the plot of this second episode feeling weaker than the first, the connections and drama between characters still came across much more believable than the big budget tv show.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 – Suffer The Children was always going to be the more undermined episode in needing to lay down the groundwork for what’s to come. It’s the seasonal point of a series structure that shifts from the introduction of the cast members into the darker depth of what could potentially lie ahead. The final act is persistent enough to show that this may be the case by wrapping up with yet another explosive cliffhanger. However, as the final credits roll and predictions begin to stir, suddenly we’re reminded of Telltale’s recent troubles. As I evaluated how my choices influenced the mood of the cast during this second episode, the comparison percentage of the public vote was no longer available.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch