Episode 1 Score: 9/10       |       EPISODIC POINT-AND-CLICK ADVENTURE       |       VIOLENT       |       STRONG LANGUAGE

“With polished sound and graphics, new collectible items, revitalised combat, influencing characters and TellTale Games’ brilliant as usual storytelling, I feel this final season is going to be the best one yet.”

The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1 was released on August 14, 2018 on PC, Xbox, Playstation and for the first time on Nintendo Switch. This is the fourth season in the series and takes place some years after the events of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. If you haven’t played any of the previous games, you are presented with a visual re-cap of the previous seasons where you can make all of the critical decisions to build the story up to this point. Or if you’re like me and played all of the seasons, it still gives you a re-cap but you only need to finalise four major plot decisions. I chose to stick to the actual choices I made in those games so that I can continue my 6-year journey with Clementine. You can read about my thoughts of the first three seasons here.

Straight away the music, the sounds and the graphics felt the most polished of all the series. The game starts with Clementine driving a car down a road, with Alvin Jr (AJ) sitting in the back. You gain the sense that Clem has become a mother-figure and protective of AJ and this is evident with their interactions and how Clem looks at AJ. AJ is hungry and Clem, whilst hungry too, offers AJ what little snacks they have left, promising they will look for more food at their next stop.

Their next stop is an old train station, and once Clem stepped out of the car, I was hit with that familiar anxious feeling of previous seasons. The camera angle is placed slightly closer to Clem which made me think that zombie fights are going to be more intense. The sound of the wind blowing through nearby reeds kept making me question whether that was just the wind, or a walker trudging towards me. I checked every blind spot I could find as I didn’t want to be jumped this early in the game.

A new feature added to this season is a red ring around certain points of interest and actions, which indicates the interaction has consequences. For this example, Clem opened this bin lid and saw dirty water, so the consequence was she could get sick. Other consequence actions had you trying to think a few moves ahead, about how this could possibly impact you later in the game. I thought this was a great addition and it gave meaning to scenes where they used to be just fill-ins. There are also collectible items to find if you take the time to explore every scene.

I got used to seeing this screen, a lot. The fighting mechanics have changed slightly making it feel a little more action-oriented. When a walker is in range you get the option of pressing ‘E’ to kick out the zombie’s leg or pressing ‘Q’ to stab them in the head. The first fight I pressed ‘Q’, got my knife stuck and then got eaten – reload. The next fight I pressed ‘E’, took the zombie down but then didn’t press ‘Q’ quickly enough and got eaten – reload. You must plan your attacks given it’s easy to be swamped by walkers. Later in the game you can also manipulate objects in the scene to take out zombies by setting off traps or slowing them down enough for you to take out stragglers.

You end up crashing your car and are taken in by some strangers who turn out to be kids around your age, with no adults in sight. We are introduced to Marlon, Louis, Vi, Rosie, Brody, Asimm, Omar and Tenn. Having only kids around changed the dynamic of relationships, and in this season, you influence every character’s mood and interactions. I went the path of aiming to be friendly with everyone, given they welcomed Clem and AJ into their settlement, a run-down school.

You learn how the kids got into this predicament, how they have created a haven for them to live and how they scavenge for food and supplies, all within a designated safe zone as set by their leader, Marlon. Marlon gave me a Kiefer Sutherland in Lost Boys kind of vibe, and I didn’t know who to trust given the looks they gave each other as we talked about various subjects. I did feel like I wanted to help everyone feel safe and protected. All the while, AJ is like a sponge, listening and learning from Clementine’s instructions and constant reminders about how to survive in this world.

I was really enjoying the pace of the game, which had some intense moments, and I started to feel I had been playing for a while, yet the story was so engaging. I had learned from previous seasons to never let your guard down or let myself feel too comfortable. This became evident as things started to occur which drew cracks in some of the characters stories. This came to a climax in the third act when things started getting out of hand and characters true feelings and emotions came to the surface.

Just when I thought I had everything under control, it all came crashing down and I was left with my jaw dropped, stunned as the credits rolled. I sat there processing what just happened whilst listening to the sombre song playing over the credits. It was masterful storytelling and I loved every minute. I read through the results of my decisions and it also shows you how the other characters feel about you given all that occurred in this episode. I missed some collectible achievements and there were definitely a few conversation options that I would choose differently, so there is some replay value here.

Overall, I gave The Walking Dead: Final Season Episode 1 a 9/10. With polished sound and graphics, new collectible items, revitalised combat, influencing characters and TellTale Games’ brilliant as usual storytelling, I feel this final season is going to be the best one yet. The only bummer is now I must wait a month or so for the next episode when I just want to know what happens next! The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1 is rated MA15+ for horror violence and strong themes, and can be purchased through Steam for US$19.99 or on Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

Hot off the press from @telltalegames, we have the release schedule for the rest of the season.

Some of those episode names sound a little foreboding but I can’t wait to see what happens next! Game on!

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