As much as I love Telltale’s episodic zombie series, having played the demo of The Walking Dead: The Final Season, I’m not feeling enthusiastic about the concluding chapter of Clementine’s story.
Telltale has given its engine a kick up the backside and, as a result, The Final Season is the prettiest The Walking Dead has ever been. The demo begins with Clementine, a character who players have come to know and love, searching for food for herself and her young charge AJ. The demo gives you the opportunity, as Clementine, to explore one location and also throws a couple of moral dilemmas at you.
Warning! Spoilers for the demo ahead!
Needing to get into a locked room, do you kill the zombie couple who, tied to chairs, took their own lives so they could be undead together? Or do you send AJ through a hole in the wall? The Final Season jumps forward a few years since the last instalment, but AJ’s still barely capable of defending himself. Can you take the risk that there’s not something unpleasant lurking in there?
Anyone who started with the first season will appreciate the parallels between this and the first season; Clem taking on Lee’s role as protector, and AJ taking Clementine’s place. Whatever you choose, once inside the room you discover a trapdoor which leads to a hidden supply horde. And an active grenade, which explodes, sending Clem and AJ scrambling for cover.
Is it too much to ask for Clementine and AJ to get a break? Apparently not, after having their potential food windfall destroyed and being near being blown to smithereens, a zombie horde descends on them. Then, in an uncharacteristically daft move, Clem loses her keys in a zombie’s eye-socket. And when they finally get the car going, it crashes into a tree and AJ ends up being grabbed by an unknown individual. True, perhaps that person may turn out to be a rescuer or even a returning character, but the sheer amount of misfortune crammed into the demo just killed my interest.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead has always been a relentlessly miserable series, but after three and a half seasons, the formula feels a little tired. I’m guessing that Clementine will meet up with a group of new people, as well as one or two returning characters, who will then end up dying over the course of the remaining episodes. But packaging a zombie attack, a car crash, a near-fatal explosion and an abduction into one fifteen minute demo? It’s so ludicrously bleak it almost crosses over into comedy.
True, that’s a lot to take from a demo and the moment I hear that The Final Season is doing more than following formula, I’ll be waving my money in Telltale’s face. Maybe The Walking Dead: The Final Season will flip the script. Maybe Clem, every bit as weary as the player, will steer clear of any connections. Perhaps, as soon as anyone looks to be getting close, she’ll poke them in the eye and tell them to clear off, sick of mourning everyone she meets.
But given that the job of a demo is to make you want to buy the full game, The Walking Dead: The Final Season has thus far failed to sway me.
The demo of The Walking Dead: The Final Season is available to download now on PS4 and Xbox One. You can watch our playthrough of the demo below.