|The Walking Dead: The Final Season|
|Series||The Walking Dead|
The Walking Dead: The Final Season is an episodic adventure game developed by Telltale Games and later Skybound Games, and the fourth and final main game in The Walking Dead video game series, based on Robert Kirkman's comic book series of the same name. Taking place some years after The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, the game focuses on Clementine's efforts to raise young Alvin Jr., AJ, in the post-apocalyptic world, coming to join with a group of troubled teenagers surviving out of their former boarding school. Their path leads them to encounter a hostile group of raiders led by a figure from Clementine's past.
The game represents the first major release by Telltale after a major restructuring; it was aimed to return to themes and elements from the first season, and is expected to be the concluding story for Clementine. The game was anticipated to be released over four episodes, with the first episode released on August 14, 2018 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. However, due to the sudden near-closure of Telltale Games on September 21, 2018, the last two episodes were overseen by Skybound Entertainment, Kirkman's production company, using as many as the former Telltale development team as possible, as Kirkman had felt it necessary to properly complete Clementine's story.
As with other games in The Walking Dead series, The Final Season is a graphic adventure game, where the player controls the protagonist Clementine as she struggles to survive in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. The player can move Clementine around the environment to examine and collect items, initiate conversation trees with non-player characters, and progress in the game. Decisions made by the player can affect future episodes, and The Final Season can use previous saved games from The Walking Dead to bring a player's choices from these games into The Final Season. Players that have not played previous seasons, or who may want to adjust choices made affecting Clementine's character, will be able to use a web-based Story Builder tool to create a cloud-based save game that can be used to feed into the game. This also addresses issues with various save game limitations due to platform transitions over the course of the series (for example, previous saves from the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 from the first two seasons are not compatible with The Final Season).
In portions of the game, the player will be required to react to quick time events in action-driven scenes, such as escaping from a "walker" (the name for zombies in the series). Failure to complete the events typically results in the death of Clementine or another key character, requiring the player to retry the event. The Final Season introduces more open-ended action sequences that give the player more control during the sequence.
The Final Season takes place roughly 7 years after the events of the first one. It is set in the same continuity of the comic book series, and it is located in West Virginia, in a world where society has collapsed after a zombie outbreak. It once again stars Clementine (Melissa Hutchison), who is now an older teenager, after she has reunited with Alvin Jr., "AJ" (Tayla Parx), the son of Rebecca and Alvin/William Carver, and her efforts to raise and protect him in the post-apocalyptic world, similarly to how her past guardian and caretaker Lee Everett (Dave Fennoy) once did with her.
Clementine and AJ join a group of teenage survivors inhabiting their former boarding school. They are led by Marlon (Ray Chase), and are made up by easygoing, carefree Louis (Sterling Sulieman), cynical yet caring Violet (Gideon Adlon), timid Tennessee, "Tenn" (Zaire Hampton), Willy (Justin Cowden), Omar (Keith Silverstein), Ruby (Ali Hillis), Aasim (Ritesh Rajan), Brody (Hedy Burress), and Mitch (Robbie Daymond).
The Delta is a faction of raiders who antagonize Clementine and the other children. Their members include Abel (Alex Fernandez), Minerva, "Minnie" (Cherami Leigh), one of Tenn's older sisters and Violet's ex-girlfriend, and Lilly (Nicki Rapp), a former member of Clementine's old survivor group from Macon, Georgia from the first season. Other characters in the game include James (Johnny Yong Bosch), a pacifistic ex-Whisperer, the children's pet dog Rosie, and Eddie (Brandon Bales), a character from the 400 Days DLC add-on for the first season, who briefly appears in a flashback.
About 3 years after the events of A New Frontier, Clementine has continued to raise AJ, recalling the lessons Lee previously taught her. They drive along and stop at a train station to scavenge for food. Inside, they find a cellar with a well-stocked supply of food, but the door is rigged with a grenade, and the noise from the blast draws a walker horde. Whilst driving to escape, Clementine crashes the car, and as she blacks out, she sees someone grabbing AJ. Clementine awakens within the ruins of Ericson's Boarding School for Troubled Youth. She meets Marlon, the leader of a group of teenagers from the school, and finds they have also been taking care of AJ while she recovered. Clementine and AJ meet the other kids, learning that they have been alone for some time after being abandoned by the school staff but have found ways to survive. As she gets to know the others and helps AJ learn appropriate social skills, Clementine learns about the loss of a set of twin sisters, Minerva and Sophie, about a year prior that still troubles the children, particularly Tenn, the younger brother of the siblings.
Marlon warns Clementine they are running low on food and has her help the next day with hunting and fishing. Neither effort secures enough food, and Clementine suggests returning to the train station to see what food supplies survived the grenade blast, despite the station being outside of the designated safe zone around the school. Clementine and AJ secure the food but are confronted by a man named Abel, who demands a ration of the food at gunpoint. After either complying with or subduing Abel, Clementine and her group make it back to the school, reporting on their encounter. That evening, Clementine hears two voices arguing through the pipe system, and finds Marlon and Brody, another resident, having a heated discussion in the cellar. Brody reveals to Clementine that Abel is part of a raider group that Marlon had traded Minerva and Sophie to in exchange for safety, and that he also intends to trade her and AJ should the raiders return. Marlon accidentally kills Brody out of rage for revealing this and locks Clementine in the cellar. After dispatching the walker Brody and escaping the cellar, Clementine finds Marlon being held at gunpoint by AJ, drawing the attention of the rest of the children. Marlon takes the gun from AJ and tries to frame Clementine for Brody's death in an attempt to get the group to turn on her. Clementine is able to convince the others of Marlon's wrongdoings, and eventually, Marlon surrenders. As the others discuss what to do with Marlon, he is killed by AJ.
Although Clementine and AJ attempt to make amends, some of the other children vote to have the pair evicted from the school. Outside, they run into Abel and another member of the raiders, who Clementine is shocked to find is Lilly, the woman who either left or was forced out of Lee's group years prior during the events of the first season. Despite her attempts to negotiate with Clementine to convince the other kids to give themselves over to her group, she refuses and they start to hunt her and AJ down, during which AJ is shot. The pair are saved by James, a former member of the Whisperers, who reveals to them the raiders are forcibly recruiting people to fight in their war against a rival community. James tends to AJ's wounds and accompanies them back to the school the next morning, before departing on his own. Clementine is allowed back in the school so that AJ can have his wounds treated, and she warns the children about Lilly and the raiders, making plans to prepare the school grounds for an attack.
Two weeks later, the raiders arrive at the school, looking to capture more children. In the midst of the battle, Lilly inadvertently kills one of the kids, Mitch. After Clementine saves either Violet or Louis from being kidnapped, Lilly and the raiders escape, taking Omar, Aasim, and whichever person Clementine did not save. The children vow to get their friends back, while Clementine interrogates a captured Abel. Abel's injuries from the battle prove fatal, but Clementine is able to learn from him before he dies that his group has a riverboat nearby where they have established camp.
Clementine leads a small group to scout the riverboat, and she realizes they should get help from James to mask their approach with walkers. On the way back, they encounter one of the raiders who turns out to be Minerva. They find she has become loyal to the raiders and advises the group to give into their demands should they cross paths again. As the other children return to the school, Clementine and AJ find James and convince him to lead the walkers to help the following night.
Back at the school, Willy makes a bomb that he plans to use to destroy the boat after they've rescued their friends. The children return to the boat and meet with James, who confides in Clementine his belief that as AJ has already killed one living human, Marlon, he may be permanently changed should he kill again, relating to his own past. Using the walkers, Clementine, AJ, and either Violet or Louis sneak onto the boat, plant the bomb in the boat's boiler, and then work their way past Minerva to rescue their friends. However, they are betrayed by Minerva and captured. Lilly confronts Clementine, telling her that Minerva killed Sophie when she tried to escape their group. Lilly notices that AJ is potentially influenceable and takes him away, leaving Minerva to guard the others. However, Clementine engineers their escape and incapacitates Minerva. She tells the others to leave the boat before it explodes while she goes to rescue AJ.
On deck, Clementine sneaks up on Lilly as she is trying to convince AJ to join her, and prepares to kill the captured James and Tenn. Clementine attacks Lilly, and a struggle breaks out, with the children gaining the upper hand against Lilly. AJ holds Lilly at gunpoint, and Clementine can tell him to kill or spare her; if spared, Lilly murders James. During the chaos, the bomb goes off and the ship explodes. Clementine and AJ retreat to the shoreline as the boat quickly tilts into the waters. If Lilly was spared, she flees on a raft while the rest of her raiders, including Minerva, are overwhelmed by the walkers drawn by the explosion. Clementine, AJ and Tenn cover the children as they escape, then make their own escape through a cave system, pursued by walkers. If James survived, they reunite with him in the caves, but he berates and fights Clementine for allowing AJ to kill Lilly, then either goes his own way or buys the others some time to escape. Clementine has a talk with AJ, optionally putting the confidence in him that he can make the hard decisions at the right times.
Leaving the cave tunnels, the trio meet with Violet or Louis who helps guide them back to Ericson. When they get to a covered bridge, where one end is partially collapsed, they are suddenly attacked by a bitten, dying Minerva, who has led a horde of walkers towards them. Clementine fights off Minerva, who slashes Clementine's ankle with her ax, and she and AJ cross the bridge. Violet or Louis try to make Tenn cross as well, but he is too stunned to move, and AJ decides to shoot Tenn to save Violet or Louis, or take no action resulting in Tenn crossing safely but Violet or Louis getting devoured by walkers.
With the walkers still approaching, Violet, Louis or Tenn get separated from Clementine and AJ. Clementine helps AJ up a rock outcropping and then follows, but a walker is able to bite her wounded leg. They continue onto the school, but as Clementine gets weaker they are forced to take shelter in a barn. Clementine and AJ work together to secure the building, but it is quickly surrounded by walkers, and Clementine urges AJ to escape the building on his own through the roof. Amid their emotions, Clementine asks AJ to kill her or leave her to turn before escaping.
In a flashback, Clementine is shown rescuing AJ from Fort McCaroll (after the events of the third season) after it had been attacked, and it is revealed she killed AJ's caretaker when she drew a gun on her. In the present, AJ has reunited with the surviving children in Ericson to help rebuild the school, where it is revealed that Clementine is still alive, having been rescued in time by the other kids after AJ amputated her bitten leg. AJ shows that he had found Clementine's hat that she lost when the boat exploded and sank, and Clementine decides that he should keep it now as the two settle in their new, permanent home.
The game is separated into four episodes, originally intended to be released every six weeks.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Release date |
|16||1||"Done Running"||Chris Rebbert, Vahram Antonian||Jessica Krause, Adam Esquenazi Douglas, Mary Kenney, Lauren Mee||August 14, 2018|
|17||2||"Suffer the Children"||Chris Rieser||James Windeler, Mary Kenny||September 25, 2018|
|18||3||"Broken Toys"||Ryan D. Chan, Chris Rieser||Lauren Mee, Mark Darin||January 15, 2019|
|19||4||"Take Us Back"||Chris Rebbert||Adam Esquenazi Douglas, James Windeler, Michael Kirkbride, Chris Rebbert||March 26, 2019|
Announced during the July 2017 San Diego Comic Con, The Walking Dead: The Final Season, was launched on August 14, 2018 for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with plans for a Nintendo Switch version to launch later that year. Clementine returned as the lead character, voiced by Melissa Hutchinson, as Telltale found that fans of the series were not pleased with how little interactivity there was with Clementine in A New Frontier. Telltale wanted to have the final season call back to what fans had praised about the first season, and knew they needed to make Clementine the focus. With this direction, Telltale decided to make this the final season for The Walking Dead series so that they can create a satisfactory conclusion to Clementine's story arc. For this purpose, Telltale brought back Gary Whitta, the writer for the first season and "400 Days" content, to help close out Clementine's story.
The story followed from A New Frontier with Clementine having rescued AJ from the McCarroll Ranch, with a timeskip a few years ahead, where AJ is now a young boy. Telltale had initially considered writing a version of Clementine that had become more jaded, but found this was far too different from the established version of the character, and reworked her to be more sympathetic.
The final season used the updated version of the Telltale Tool first introduced in Batman: The Telltale Series, along with improvements in the visual style to approach the style used in The Walking Dead comic. This included improved dynamic lightning, and a new rendering style Telltale called "Graphic Black" to enforce the comic book rendering style. Some scenes featured "unscripted" zombies who may attack Clementine if the player is not careful, creating new freeform combat sequences, while other parts of the game used quick-time events as from previous games.
Due to course-corrections made at Telltale in 2017, The Walking Dead: The Final Season was primarily the only game the company released that year, cutting down from twenty episodes across multiple games in 2017 to only this season's four in 2018. The game's executive producer Brodie Andersen said that "We know we ran a little hot in previous years and weren't able to fully deliver the experiences we may have wanted to, so that was important to focus in on a polished quality experience players love." Because of the reduced product schedule, Telltale was able to establish firm release dates for all four episodes in the season, a first for any of Telltale's episodic series. Andersen said that they were able to achieve this by starting from where they wanted The Final Season to end, and then building the narrative backwards from that, establishing four clear episodes for the series to work towards. The game's story, with major plot points and milestones for all four episodes, were established early between creative director Kent Mudle, lead writer James Windeler, lead designer Mike Kirkbride, and seasoned writer Chris Roberts, and which had little micromanagement from the new Telltale executives.
A free demo of the game, offering approximately the first twenty minutes of the first episode, meant to show off the new gameplay features added in this season, was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 31, 2018.
Despite the title The Final Season, Telltale originally did not rule out a possible future for The Walking Dead games; Creative Director Kent Mudle said that The Final Season title represented the end of Clementine's journey from Telltale's view, but could revisit the franchise through other characters.
Transition to Skybound
On September 21, 2018, Telltale announced they were undergoing a "majority studio closure", laying off nearly all staff and leaving only 25 to complete the studio's remaining obligations. The state of The Final Season was unknown, though other planned studio projects were cancelled. The second episode was still released on September 25, 2018, while those within Telltale stated that they were halfway through completing the third episode with the news; they had cleared the narrative with Skybound and had done the first pass of voice work for the episode. Telltale stated on September 24, 2018, that the studio has been approached by "multiple potential partners" that want to help bring these two episodes to completion in some manner. Until they are able to figure out how the last two episodes will be played out, Telltale asked retailers and digital storefronts to pull sales of the game and the season pass.
At that time, Skybound Entertainment, the publishing company that Kirkman started to support licensing of The Walking Dead and other properties, were starting to explore a video game division, and had started a small Skybound Games division led by Ian Howe around five months before Telltale's closure. Skybound had already been working closely with Telltale prior to their first The Walking Dead season to help Telltale figure out the type of story they wanted to tell, inspired by the comic book's approach. This led to creating the video game series with a focus on a singular character, Clementine. In return, Skybound gained an appreciation of what interactive experiences and video games mean alongside all the other venues (comics, television, and so forth) they were exploring, and saw it as an essential element of their "Wheel of Awesome" to extend The Walking Dead and their other properties into other markets. The intent of Skybound Games was to work with third-party developers, rather than hosting its own development team.
When Telltale announced its closure, Skybound Entertainment saw the potential of using this to kickstart Skybound Games. According to Howe, Kirkman had said after Telltale contacted them about the news that that Skybound should just get Clementine's story finished as her character partially influenced how Skybound would expand its businesses. Howe traveled to meet with the 50-some developers that had been working on The Final Season, and explained the situation, in that Skybound was interested in supporting the game through completion, and wanted the original Telltale team on board to support this, but could not promise any sustained job afterward and being upfront about what they did not know at that time. Finding that most of the Telltale team were eager to help finish out the game, Howe's team began to seek out the financial and other logistical support needed. They acquired the rights to the Telltale The Walking Dead games, and were able to negotiate with the landlord of the former Telltale offices to establish working space there as to minimize any disruption to the team members and not require them to relocate. Other Telltale members made personal sacrifices to make sure the game got done, and Skybound did as much as possible to support these members, and provided allowances for team members to continue to search for jobs following the game's completion. Not all of the Telltale team stayed on due to the lack of long-term job security or have had already accepted other job offers. Overall, it took about two months from Telltale's closure in September for Skybound to complete all the preparations and legal requirements to restart development.
According to Mudle, who stayed with the Telltale team in transitioning to Skybound, the final episode of the series was always meant to be treated as a closure to one era of Telltale as they were transitioning to a new engine with plans for new mechanics to break the mold of their adventure game approach; the last episode was to have included hints of these new mechanics. Following the studio closure, the final episode became more poignant, leaving some of those elements in but otherwise treating it as a tribute to Telltale's legacy. However, continuing the development at Skybound was aided by all the planning work they had done at Telltale, according to Mudle, making the transition less difficult.
Kirkman officially announced Skybound's involvement in finishing the Final Season during the 2018 New York Comic Con in October. Skybound announced in November 2018 that the former Telltale team, now named "Still Not Bitten Team", had restarted work on The Final Season. Howe had anticipated that the third episode would be released before the end of 2018. Spanish and Portuguese voice dubbing for the remaining episodes was dropped for budgetary reasons.
Skybound also affirmed that they have gained the rights to sell the former The Walking Dead games, and will not require anyone that had already purchased a season pass for The Final Season to buy one again once the last two episodes are released. Users that had purchased the title before Telltale's closure on Steam or on GOG will receive the final episodes on those platforms, but otherwise the season was moved to the Epic Games Store for all new purchasers. According to Skybound, Epic Games had helped with the season's completion following Telltale's closure, and thus Skybound felt it was necessary to offer the game through their platform. Skybound produced a physical release of The Final Season for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on March 26, 2019; the season pass disc contains the first three episodes and granted access to download the remaining episode as it became available.
Following the completion of the major development, about 15 of the team members remain at Skybound to help support bug and console fixes. Skybound is exploring options of either keeping this remaining team aboard once they've completed all essential work, or potentially spinning them off as a separate studio that would work with Skybound Games in the future.
|Complete Season||(PC) 79|
|Episode 1 — Done Running||(PC) 76 |
|Episode 2 — Suffer the Children||(PC) 69|
|Episode 3 — Broken Toys||(PC) 74|
(NS) 80 
|Episode 4 — Take Us Back||(PC) 79|
The Walking Dead: The Final Season received generally positive reviews, earning praise for its characterization, visuals, and upgraded gameplay mechanics, and is considered by many critics and fans to be both an improvement over its predecessor and a return to form for the series.
Episode 1 — Done Running
Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the PC version 76/100 based on 28 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 75/100 based on 14 reviews, the Xbox One version 72/100 based on 10 reviews, and the Nintendo Switch version 75/100 based on 6 reviews.
Episode 2 — Suffer the Children
On Metacritic, the PC version of the episode has a rating of 69/100 based on 18 reviews, the PS4 version has a rating of 71/100 based on 7 reviews, the Xbox One Version has a rating of 75/100 based on 4 reviews, the Nintendo Switch version has a rating of 70 based on 5 reviews.
Episode 3 — Broken Toys
On Metacritic, the PC version has 74/100 average score based on 19 reviews, and the PS4 version has 78/100 average score based on 10 reviews, the Xbox One version has 80/100 average score based on 4 reviews, and the Nintendo Switch version has 80/100 based on 4 reviews.
Episode 4 — Take Us Back
On Metacritic, the PC version has rating of 79/100 based on 14 reviews, the PS4 version has rating of 75/100 based on 10 reviews, the Xbox One version has rating of 85/100 based on 4 reviews, and the Nintendo Switch version has rating of 83/100 based on 4 reviews.
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