The Walking Dead: The Final Season episode 2 review – Suffer the Telltale

Telltale Games
Telltale Games /

If The Walking Dead: The Final Season really ends Clementine’s tragic story with episode 2, then it’s a damn shame that it all ends like this.

Title: The Walking Dead: The Final Season episode 2 – Suffer the Children
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: September 25, 2018

This review will discuss events in the series prior to The Walking Dead: The Final Season, as well as refer to what has been already revealed in the episode’s trailer.

Telltale Games has unfairly, in my mind, gotten a bad rap for its graphic adventure games, regarded as titles where your choices don’t matter. Ultimately, the point is not for the player to “win” the story, but to enjoy an adventure with characters and a story they help meld.

The “how” of the story has never been more important in The Walking Dead: The Final Season episode 2, “Suffer the Children,” and it’s never been more frustrating. What was supposed to be a bridge episode setting up what may be Clementine’s final challenge down the road has been cemented as the halting conclusion of her story, completely devoid of closure, optimism or hope.

The Walking Dead Final Season Violet
Telltale Games /

Episode 2 picks up the day after the closing moments of “Done Running,” with Clementine and A.J. uncertain of their fate and standing at Ericson’s Boarding School. Outside the school’s limits, Clementine and A.J. are attacked by a face familiar to Clementine; Lilly. Players must come to grips with the choices they’ve made from the beginning and how Clementine and A.J. will atone.

Except it won’t happen. There’s no redemption route here for Clementine; no melancholic walk to her demise, no heroic moment of victory over her opponents, no good or bad ending for the player in sight. By its very definition, The Walking Dead: The Final Season will likely remain an incomplete narrative due to the overwhelming majority of Telltale Games’ staff departing the company.

It’s a shame, too, because this episode highlighted the maturity of Clementine and her standing in this decrepit universe. She has exemplified self-sustenance before, but the ascension to that of a leader represents the magic of the multi-season narrative framework Telltale Games has crafted. “Suffer the Children” even explores new storytelling methods with gusto, showing creativity despite under the umbrella of a tried-and-true episodic format.

The Walking Dead Final Season episode 2 combat
Telltale Games /

Just as the first episode deepened the gameplay elements to balance out its story strengths, The Walking Dead: The Final Season’s combat doubles down on new tactics, intensifying the most difficult of moments. What once was a yawn-filled QTE-fest has evolved into a more nuanced system, requiring the player to pay attention to their surroundings and use tactics to overcome impending death.

If this is how the story ends, it fails on all narrative merits, dropping too many loose connections to serve a fair conclusion.

The use of a bow and arrow is limited, but each situation feels true to its movements and flows naturally in and out of combat. It’s night and day compared to the rare gunfire in The Walking Dead six years ago, serving as a bittersweet reminder of the parallels this episode brings to the forefront.

The journey The Walking Dead has taken over the years is, in part, due to the player’s choices, and the team took care to add character flourishes here and there in order to stay true to how the player plays Clementine. This allows for a beautiful balance between a player’s interpretation of Clementine while staying true to the narrative at large, one that is best showcased in episode 2.

The Walking Dead Final Season episode 2 Clementine
Telltale Games /

There are a few moments where characters in the larger entourage acted a bit too tilted or running familiar “I don’t trust you” tropes, but the main cast led by Melissa Hutchison pulled off strong performances in episode 2. Creatively, the cinematography toyed with the player’s expectations, going a bit more surreal to break up the momentum.

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  • Ultimately, though, it’s hard to feel too optimistic knowing that this could be the end of The Walking Dead as we know it. Too many loose strings remain unconnected, making it hard to truly judge its standing as an episode due to the chaotic, unknown nature of the franchise as a whole.

    If this is how the story ends, it fails on all narrative merits, dropping too many loose connections to serve a fair conclusion. Players who have made more than half a decade’s worth of commitment to the story of Lee and Clementine deserve far better than what “Suffer the Children” offers, ending on uncertainty, doubt, and too many unknown questions.

    The Walking Dead: The Final Season episode 2 does well enough outside of its circumstance, but without the certainty of obtaining proper closure I cannot, in good consciousness, recommend supporting this episode as Clementine’s final chapter. Especially not when Telltale Games continues to sell full-priced season passes for a broken, disjointed product.

    This review will be updated once the fate of The Walking Dead: The Final Season’s final episodes becomes official. A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.