The Walking Dead: Suffer the Children arrives amidst a storm of confusion and controversy. At the time of writing, Telltale Games have laid off almost all of their staff and look set to close down. Whilst the future of the Final Season of The Walking Dead initially looked dubious, Telltale have subsequently announced that they’ve been approached by potential partners who may help them finish the final season in some form. Whether this comes to pass or not, the fact remains that episode two is now available to download and play.
After a nail biting conclusion at the end of The Final Season’s first episode it’s wonderful to be back in Clementine’s world as we inch ever closer to the finale of her story. The opening scenes draw out the tension from significant events that divided the group in the previous episode, with clever pacing tactics forcing a sense of tension to sit heavy in the atmosphere. Clementine and AJ who have remained fiercely loyal to each other in previous scenes seem more detached now and a uncomfortable atmosphere in conversation is unbearably loud in the silence. It’s a nice shift in character development and plants seeds of doubts in the stance of their relationship as each episode unwinds.
Similar to episode one Suffer the Children is set in two conflicted parts. The initial part and the first hour of the game is centred around character development, separated by small action sequences where Clementine is forced to face handfuls of zombies. All of these encounters are manageable and don’t represent too much of a challenge, but their appearance keeps Telltale’s The Walking Dead rooted in its genre.
Once the second part of the episode ignites there is an amp in action which for some may come too little too late. Its unsettlingly clear that a pattern is slowly beginning to emerge with slow paced openings and boisterous conclusions which rock the structure which has been built over the first half. Suffer the Children features touching moments of character development which lighten the general dark atmosphere of the game and once more branching paths allow you to narrate your own story as Telltale’s selling feature once more takes centre stage.
It’s a shame that so far, The Walking Dead’s bigger moments have been few and far between, revelations and shell-shocking sequences are still present but longer episodes mean you feel as though your wading through time wasting fodder sections to allow the rare hooks embedded in the game to take hold and shock.
For now, the future of the final season is up in the air and we can’t be sure as to what will happen with the two remaining unpublished episodes. If this is the last, we see of Clementine its been a bittersweet adventure, one which I hope gets the ending it deserves.