After seven years, one of Telltale Games most successful and anticipated franchises is coming to a conclusion. Over the seasons we’ve protected Clementine, tried to survive in her harsh world as her, fought alongside her as Javi and now, years later we must reprise the role Lee took all those years ago as a mentor, and give someone younger the life skills they need to survive in a post-apocalyptic nightmare.
The first episode, Done Running, opens with a short recap of the actions leading up to Clementine’s life now, this soft sepia flashback pin points key moments from the three previous seasons. Clementine’s frustrations, sadness and loss is captured and reopened, like a healing wound. It’s testament to how human Clementine feels, choice-based decisions over the past seasons have shaped someone real, and our connection to her feels stronger as she looks back on her past and bravely faces her uncertain future.
The first thing that stands out is how gorgeous the last season is. Telltale have stuck with their graphical style born from the comics but in this season, there is greater attention to detail and shading. Colours feel more vibrant and against the black outlines they almost pop out of the television screen. The first episode is centred in the middle of a colossal forest and now shadows can be seen lurking in the darkness. With the threat of undead constantly looming this new graphical feature almost adds a sense of security to the season, until you spot the shapes lumbering in the distance and then the feeling of security somersaults into fear.
Collectibles have been added to Telltale’s final season of The Walking Dead to add a fresh twist to a game which until now has following the same regimented formula. These items are peppered throughout the world and offer both insight to Clementine’s environment and character backstory. The Walking Dead game was once notorious for being a play-to-platinum game, with these new collectables players are likely to return to this first episode to retrieve these items, fleshing out their experience of the game and adding to Telltale’s well known re-playability factor.
Clementine is now reunited with young AJ and has the weight of his safety on her shoulders as well as her own. Having moved from sanctuary to safe zone only to have it destroyed or ripped away from her Clementine finds solitude in a refurbished boarding school, governed by a group of determined children. This unusual society feels familiarly odd, vibes of the children in Lord of The Flies immediately resonates within the set up in Clementine finds here.
Tensions run high within Ericson’s Boarding School of Troubled Youth with Clementine an AJ’s appearance straining relationships which are already tense. Clementine’s job of mentoring AJ leaves her in control of shaping the future generation, which resonates with the survivors in the school, who without parents have no choice but to administer the younger generation, pass on survival skills and keep the human race thriving and fighting. Of course, these intrepid survivors have grown up in the Apocalypse, knowing nothing else but survival, its interesting to see how teenagers adapt to situations which adults would have tackled in a much more concise manner. After all, they’re only children themselves.
This opening episode is initially slow paced but the two hour running time introduces a handful of secondary characters, most of which are initially unremarkable and easily forgotten. Although there are a few characters who immediately stand out, allowing you to branch out your own story from the first few moments of the final season by subtly picking sides and alliances. Dedicated to character development it becomes clear that this initial episode may be the first and last of the season where you can take a breather, slowly get to know Clementine’s comrades, and explore the remains of a decaying world.
Thankfully a twist and sudden increase in pace towards the last half an hour of Done Running, engages audience attention and sets the footholds for the rest of the season. The conclusion is shocking and blunt but promises a season filled with future twists, turns and moments which test your moral compass.
Just from the first episode is impossible to know the layout for the final season. Done Running gives players a taste of its new graphical style, collectibles and introduces an array of secondary characters, most of which probably won’t survive to see the finale. Done Running is just a taster of what’s to come, and we’re hungry for more.