When George A. Romero released B movie Night of the Living Dead way back in 1968, little could he have possibly known what kind of influence his creation would have on the future of storytelling. The sheer concept of survival horror opens the lid to the imagination and possibilities of a ferocious future with very little hope. One where the morality of trust, betrayal, companionship, and loss bears an even harsher burden caused by the reanimated deceased shell of our former kind. Telltale’s The Walking Dead series has pushed through similar hardship for its own survival. When Telltale suddenly faced its own demise, the story of Clementine was left abandoned and unfinished. Yet, with the refuge of Skybound Games and the help of a somewhat betrayed but loyal few, against the odds it somehow survived to finish its story.
The final chapter, Take Us Back, fights towards its conclusive end with the strong driving force of our main protagonists. Without them, this last slice of episodic content probably wouldn’t cause quite the same impact as it does here. I’ve always seen Clementine as one of the stronger characters in the whole of The Walking Dead universe. The idea of following the mind and sight of a child into adulthood to eventually pass on their own life experiences can feel close to home in being a parent. It’s what makes Telltale’s The Walking Dead so appealing to me. Especially so when AJ, the new generation of survivor, is as well portrayed as he has been throughout this final season.
If you have been following the season up to this point (which I assume you have) it’s fair to say that we see anyone outside the two main characters as little more than cannon fodder. Not only is it hard to care for anyone other than Clementine and AJ, it’s harder to be bothered by that fact because of how well written they both are. Even something as subtle as losing a treasured gift can cause dismay and stir emotion. A fine example of how character building mixed with interactivity can be a recipe for a setting that we can somewhat relate to.
With that said, the supporting cast that remain are the tools that draw out what’s important. As a result, we finally get to see what kind of impact our choices have on a young AJ when he is forced to stand on his own two feet. While it’s clear that whatever influence you have will ultimately result in the same outcome, it’s the decisions that got me there that, for the most part, felt my own. As for the burning question, I have no intention in spilling any answers. What I will say, is that the very final shot of a silhouette created by the sun is the perfect fit to close out the fond memories of a long journey.
In regards to presentation, the battle scars from changing hands are still clearly evident here as it was in the third episode. However, the frequent but slight visual stutter and odd confused textures are small sacrifices for the story’s survival as a whole. Some scenes that involve the supporting cast can come across a bit more wooden than usual. This is especially the case with the lifeless ex-Whisperer James, who even more so now than ever before shares personality traits with the zombies he cares so much for. Unsurprisingly, love them or hate them, the final episode does have its fair share of button-spamming action set pieces that have become a staple point of Telltale’s storytelling. Whether you regard that as just mere filler, or a necessity to keep the story flowing is ultimately down to your own judgment.
Overall, I appreciated the way that the lid finally closed on the Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and the decision to wrap everything up in just four episodes felt, to me at least, the right choice to make. While collective distractions and over-saturated plot lines can seem all too familiar with the franchise as a whole, to finally see the nail hammered into the coffin on a strong note is a far braver achievement made when compared to its peers. The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season was a gaming phenomenon. It put Telltale on the map in how brilliant a concept it was. Over its course, I have found its interactive narrative to be far more interesting than the TV series and a worthy companion to the comics. I’m reassured to now know, then, that my final farewell to Clementine’s story is one I can take my hat off to.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch