Developers: Telltale Games
Publishers: Telltale Games
Plot: Clementine has been abducted, a horde of Walkers rampage on the group and Lee is infected with a bite. Time is running out…
Starting this game for the first time is a mesmerizing experience. We have just had four episodes of one of the most original franchises the gaming industry has released in a long time. Telltale Games took some big risks making this game and every one of them paid off. We have had an emotional ride, been delivered a jaw-dropping twist at the cliffhanger of the last episode and now we have to ride this rollercoaster to the end. As the loading screen does its thing, you just know in your gut that you are about to experience something truly mind-blowing.
While ‘Around Every Corner’ is the longest level, this is easily the shortest. In fairness, no one was prepared to wait any longer for the resolution to this story, so this is probably a good thing. The sequence is short and sweet, racing towards the end of the story and tying up every character arc and loose end that the narrative has brought up. Dragging it out would have hurt the spectacle of it and made the level feel forced rather than fluent. I respect Telltale Games’ ability to mold the duration to the story rather than the other way round. As it stands, every beat, line and frame of this final episode is absolutely necessary, which makes this climax to the franchise so satisfying.
It starts strong with a sickening scene, where Lee attempts to stop the infection by sawing off his own arm. Depending on your choices in the last level, there are several ways to go about this scene. You can either have your friends do this for you or maybe you are now a lone fighter, forced to tie down your own limb and cut it off yourself. It is a brutal start to the episode and a slap in the face to make sure your attention is totally focused on the emotion and shock that will come at you, punch after punch. The game rarely slows down after this, rocketing towards the devastating conclusion. You are taken to a deadly shoot-out, the gauntlet for all of those little shooting mini-games thrown at you throughout the five episodes. Not long after, you are forced to make some decisions about the rest of the group and then you are put head to head with Clementine’s kidnapper and finding out the mystery of the group’s stalker.
I am trying to pick a favorite moment, but there are so many to choose from, it becomes an impossible task. There is the arm-cutting scene I touched upon in the last paragraph. I would also have to nominate the one moment where the characters get to take a breather in between the fight and all of the conflicts are brought to the surface. It is a well-written moment and deserves praise, even if the rest of the episode partially drowns out the brilliance of the moment. Depending on your choices in the previous episode, you will also have an additional scene with Ben and Kenny to choose from. I think the coolest moment is the sequence where the player walks through a horde of walkers, no longer caring if he lives or dies. You are armed with whatever weapon you picked up at the time and have to hack your way through a whole army of Walkers. It is so bad-ass, you can barely believe you are witnessing the awesomeness of the moment. It is the perfect climax (or one side of a climax) for this amazing gaming series.
But of course, the best moment was always going to be the final few beats. The game slows down to a crawl. The time for player interaction is over. Now we just stand back, other than a few dialogue options and just let the story guide us. It is a heart-breaking moment, expertly manipulating every emotion in the player. I have never cried at a game before, but my throat was choking up, as the writers conclude their masterpiece. It takes its time, hitting you with wave after wave of expert story-telling. There is no escape from the tragic ending and that is the way it should be. They’ve earned the time to share this moment with you, so let the story move you and applaud afterwards.
Final Verdict: The perfect ending to an outstanding season. If you have never shed tears at a game before, this episode will be happy to change that.