Trust, safety and comfort.
These are all luxuries that don’t come easy when the end of the world happens. The number of living are growing thin, food is scarce, and nowhere is safe from the undead monsters that roam. Forever hungry and searching for their next unsuspecting meal. Forever living; never growing cold, lonely, or sad. Forever watching and waiting, forcing anyone alive to take shelter and try desperately to find any source of trust, safety or comfort.
Now in its fourth and final season, Telltale’s The Walking Dead is all about surviving the harsh world of the zombie apocalypse. In Episode One, Done Running, you’re back in the role of Clementine. Just a child in season one, she’s now a teenager, travelling across the American countryside looking for food and shelter for herself and the child in her care, AJ. Clem and AJ are moderately well-equipped to deal with the undead, but as with many situations in The Walking Dead universe, the dead aren’t your biggest problem.
Back at it again
Things aren’t looking good for Clementine and AJ this time around. At the start of the episode the two protagonists find their way to an abandoned railway station to look for some food. From the look on AJ’s face, they haven’t had much to eat in a while. You have to make some simple choices at the beginning, but it soon becomes clear that every decision you make influences the way that AJ behaves. After a series of unfortunate events, Clem and AJ find themselves at an abandoned school whose residents are all children and teens. No adults at all – the kids make the rules and they’ve seemingly made a good living for themselves so far.
Of course, like any large group of survivors, the kids are low on food. After deciding to allow Clem and AJ to stay, their leader asks for Clementine’s assistance on helping to find some food. As the episode continues, Clem helps the group, gets to know them, and starts to feel comfortable for the first time in a long time. But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if staying is really the best thing for Clem and AJ.
Faith, trust, and really tough choices
Like with all Telltale Games, the majority of The Final Season‘s gameplay involves clicking through dialogue choices, thinking carefully about what you choose. You’re able to pick if you want to be stern, kind, or neutral, as well as who to trust and who to befriend. There are many new faces and the game even gives you some free time to wander about the school and introduce yourself. AJ doesn’t make the best first impression, but as Clem you’re able to encourage him to make some friends. It’s lovely being able to see AJ interacting with people his age for the first time and figuring out the kind of person he is going to be. As you move on with the story, the choices become harder, and will (presumably) heavily affect you in future episodes.
Different from previous instalments, a new over-the-shoulder camera has been added into The Walking Dead: The Final Season, allowing players more range of motion to look around whenever you’re free to roam. I did, however, have a hard time adjusting to the sensitivity of the camera, making for a lot of fumbly moments early on.
There are also other new things added to the game that don’t necessarily improve it, but are interesting nonetheless. For example, when you pick up important items a prompt will come up and say something like “I can use these for decorating,” giving the player an idea of what each item is used for. Additionally, when Clem and AJ move into their room at the school you’re able to decorate however you like with items you pick up along the way, making it feel more like home. A strange choice, but simple and thoughtful nonetheless.
Lessons never learned
I love all of Telltale’s games (with the exception of Minecraft: Story Mode) but I’ve always had a particular soft spot for The Walking Dead. Still, I’m well aware of the series’ flaws, and a lot of the major conflicts that occur in the story are repeated. Your character finds a group of people, there’s a brief respite from the stress of the outside world where they feel safe, and then suddenly, unexpectedly (but actually expected) they find something weird about the group. Perhaps they’re cannibals, or perhaps they steal from others to get supplies for themselves. Much like the TV series, there’s always something which causes a big clash between the protagonists and these other character.
It’s the same thing almost every time, and Done Running is no exception. Small things are different every time of course, but it does beg the question whether or not Telltale is choosing this to be the final season because it has run out of original ideas. I still enjoyed the episode – and the improvements in the graphics and controls compared to previous seasons should not be overlooked, – but in a game where its entire success is based on its story being good, I was a little disappointed to find it already repeating the same tropes we’ve seen before.
Still, The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode One: Done Running is good. Clichéd or not, Telltale always knows how to tell a great story. The graphics have improved two-fold and the controls are better than ever, but I had really hoped to see something new in the narrative, especially seeing as it’s the last time we’ll be playing these characters. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, but I do have my fingers crossed that the narrative gets a much-needed shake-up in the next episode.