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The Walking Dead Final Season Episode 1 Review

[This review may contain minor spoilers]

When I saw the line “Final Season” attached to the latest Walking Dead episodic adventure, my heart sunk a little. I’ve really enjoyed this universe, the dramatic stories told, and the fragility of the characters.

Putting that sadness aside, I was ready to dive deep into the tension and difficult decision-making that has made this particular series so captivating.

A New Story of Survival

In this final season, you play as everyone’s favourite child character- Clementine. Or rather, she was a child , but has now grown into her teens and is a much more capable and responsible character that we knew all the way back from the very first season. Though I don’t think she seems as hardened as she was in The Final Frontier.

The Walking Dead Final Season- Episode 1: Done Running
Clementine has grown up so fast!

Also more grown up is AJ, the baby that Clementine took care of all the way back from season 2. Sporting a nifty afro (like his mother), AJ has become capable thanks to Clementine’s guidance, and has apparently become skilled with a gun (reckless too).

Together, Clementine and AJ’s story begins as we would expect- them simply trying to survive. The world is still the same as it’s filled with walkers (zombies for the uninitiated) and the duo are always on the lookout for supplies, food, etc.

It’s not long before they meet with misfortune but luckily are saved by teens living nearby. Yes that’s right- teenagers. Where they live, there are no adults, which presents a whole new environment than previous seasons. There have always been adults trying to run to show, so this episode makes it interesting to see how essentially kids can deal with survival.

The Walking Dead Final Season- Episode 1: Done Running
Drama between characters is the norm in The Walking Dead series.

New Cast of Characters

The characters themselves are actually quite a highlight. There are all sorts of different personalities, but they all felt relatable. There are moments where their personalities really shine (such as Louis playing a song for Clementine and really brightening the mood), but when the dire situations arise you get to see how they handle it.

For the first time in a while I really felt for these characters, maybe because they were kids, or because they were just interesting people.

For the first time in The Walking Dead games, I really got that sense that Clementine had finally found a place she could call home. She was always on the run and just trying to survive with whatever group she found herself in, but in this first episode, this new place really did feel like home. I, as the player, actually felt comfortable for Clementine and AJ, because I know the hardships they had gone through.

The Walking Dead Final Season- Episode 1: Done Running
Clementine and AJ’s new room where they can display their collectibles.

It’s rare to have that feeling of safety for the characters in Walking Dead games and I did feel it here. But of course, it wouldn’t be much fun if they just lived happily ever after, now would it? There is the expected drama, and the end climaxes well which brings shock as all episodes should.

To spice things up, certain characters will have their dark secrets which just makes situations even more interesting. It’s this kind of focus on the characters, rather than just dramatic events, that made this first episode a joy to play through. Having a captivating story and events is one thing, but it’s really the characters that play with our heartstrings, that is the key to captivating and immersive storytelling.

The Walking Dead Final Season- Episode 1: Done Running
New characters Violet and Tenn.

Walking Dead Gameplay

From a gameplay point of view, things have been changed up. The camera is now shown from over Clementine’s shoulder, rather than from an outside fixed camera view. This allows us to see things from Clementine’s point of view and keeps things more intimate.

Surprisingly there are optional collectibles to find and eventually decorate your room- another way that makes their new home really feel like a home, as I mentioned before.┬áThere’s still the usual Quick Time Events for those intense cutscenes, and timed decision-making for those urgent moments.

If there’s one criticism with this episode, and I’ve felt this for quite a while, but the major decisions just don’t have enough weight to them. I love (and dread) those choices you make where someone’s life is on the line, or a decision will save one person, but kill another. I don’t remember the last time this happened in the Walking Dead games and I would like at least one massive decision in each episode.

The Walking Dead Final Season- Episode 1: Done Running
This season’s new camera angle.

That feeling of “what the hell should I do?” is one of the most memorable moments you can have with these games, so there should definitely be more of that.

I do wish there was a stronger puzzle element to this series, like with other Telltale games such as The Tales of Monkey Island and Back To The Future. I love the point and click adventure puzzles and it’s something that would really benefit The Walking Dead. I know they’re trying to appeal to people who watch the show, but adding more of a ‘game’ element wouldn’t hurt, even if it slows down the pacing of the story a little bit.

Walking Dead Final Season- Episode 1 Summary

Overall, I really enjoyed the start of this new season. It’s done a great job of introducing us to new characters, and placing us in a new setting that surprisingly feels like home. It’s also left me excited for the next episode, which is absolutely crucial for episodic games.

The decisions didn’t have that “life or death” feel to them, but I’m hoping future episodes will feature more of them.

There are only 4 episodes this season, but this first episode felt a bit longer than usual episodes, so maybe that fact makes up for it?

The Walking Dead Final Season- Episode 1: Done Running
This conversation in particular allowed us to learn more of the characters.

Clementine has already been established as a great character, but this season is apparently her last. Telltale have mentioned that even though this season is referred to as the ‘final season’, it is referring to Clementine’s story. As she is such a beloved character, let’s hope it all ends on a happy note for her.

If the series continues after this current one- who will take the reigns? I think AJ makes the most sense. With Lee (protagonist from season 1) raising Clementine, then Clementine (protagonist from season 2 and 4) raising AJ, it seems inevitable that AJ takes over.

Regardless, let’s just enjoy the remainder of Clementine’s final season, as it’s started off with a bang and really set up what should be another great Walking Dead season.

Score: 8.8

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