A week ago, fans of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series believed they would soon be playing the second episode in Clementine’s final season, but that was before Telltale revealed it was shuttering its doors. Now, it appears what would be the halfway point could actually be Clementine’s unfitting, undeserved end. For those who have watched Clementine grow under Lee’s mentorship to accepting the role as AJ’s protector, this is a bittersweet ending to years of emotional investment. However, the latest developments suggest this story could be saved and picked up by another developer.
Nevertheless, The Walking Dead: The Final Season is going out in true Telltale spirit, leaving fans with a narrative that could only be achieved by this company. While it could be picked up by another developer, it’s unlikely to exactly fit Telltale’s style, but devoted fans will still likely love to see an official ending to Clementine’s story – if nothing else. This second episode begins where the first left off and builds cohesively upon the last episode.
While this episode doesn’t lose the totally-dropped-into-the-middle-of-something feeling, it does build off Episode One more than the previous episode did off prior seasons. This gives the episode an authentic feeling the last one didn’t have, an old but new feeling. The story also benefits from the inclusion of older mechanics and characters, as well as new ideas and characters.
In fact, this episode could be described as the perfect balance of old Telltale narrative and new ideas. For example, while this episode brings back a character from the very first season, it also introduces a brand new and unique concept with the new Whisperer character, someone capable of moving among the undead and commanding the herd. Simple but efficient QTEs are also present in the game, but the game does beef up the combat of the game.
Speaking of the combat, this was one of the chief complaints of Episode One. Oftentimes, with the way the melee combat is oriented, deaths feel cheap, as if the long combat animations exist for no other reason to land the player in hot water. Near the end of the episode, however, Telltale changes things up with the additional use of Marlon’s Bow – a unique, ranged weapon.
Another new concept seen in this episode is the introduction of a few different zombie archetypes. The whisperer, for example, wears a mask of Walker flesh to blend in with the zombies, and a nurse-turned-zombie is covered in plants, giving a green aesthetic heretofore unseen. This unique take continues into the final moments of the game, as these walkers pose a unique threat to Clementine.
The melee combat remains an area of contention because, beyond the complex combat animations, it creates several issues. While the game never crashed, this style of combat hurts the flow of the game, and when combined with a couple of audio glitches where the voices sounded distant, the experience is less than ideal. It’s worth emphasizing, however, that none of these were so severe that they were game-breaking, and each resolved themselves within a few moments.
That’s not to say, however, that this title repeats the mistakes of the past. With previous Telltale games, these combat sections tend to be the buggiest, as the developer places a heavier focus on the narrative interactions. In this way, Telltale excels.
While many characters were pushed aside in the first episode, this one gives the supporting characters more to do and build upon their relationships. This creates moments of heartbreak for characters that may not have drawn emotion before this episode, as well as a more in-depth understanding that the setting was, indeed, a school for troubled youth.
Building off these relationships, Telltale ends this episode with a cliffhanger, as it has done so many times before. Whereas the episode one cliffhanger left players in shock, this cliffhanger leaves players in disbelief, effectively drawing that emotion from the player. This ending is much more positive and clearly paves the way for the events of the next episode.
However, in this clear set-up, Telltale does repeat a common mistake: these human-oriented conflicts that have arisen before are rising again. The narrative is moving toward a fight, not unlike the previous season such as the Siege of Prescott in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier.
As a teacher, Clementine is expected to navigate these unique human relationships, with it sometimes impossible to determine which choice is “good” or “bad.” This creates some intense scenarios that make the time feel as if there is added weight upon the choice. Of course, the primary relationship in the game is between Clem and AJ, which is where the game excels most.
While Episode 2 is an improvement, it comes with a big caveat as fans wait to see how Telltale handles the remainder of The Walking Dead: The Final Season. It would be a shame for the ending of episode two to simply be it, as the coming war promises players a legitimate, if cruel and heart-breaking, end for the beloved Clementine.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Final Season‘s second episode launched on September 25 for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One, after which no further updates are currently known. Game Rant was provided an Xbox One code for the purposes of this review.
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