The original development team at Skybound Games made sure to fire on all cylinders, as The Walking Dead: The Final Season episode 3 delivers.
Developer: Skybound Games
Publisher: Skybound Games
Platforms: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: January 15, 2019
This review will lightly discuss portions of The Walking Dead: The Final Season episodes 1 and 2 in context while avoiding major spoilers for episode 3, “Broken Toys.”
It was taken away with the snap of a finger. A great team of bright-eyed hopefuls had established a name for themselves, only to have their work taken away from them. Key members were pulled away from their encampment, leaving the few remaining wondering what would happen next, when the axe would land on them and planning a strategy to make things right.
And Clementine also had the exact same situation on her hands the last time we saw her in The Walking Dead: The Final Season.
It would be a great disservice not to discuss the arduous journey it took the development team to bring us episode 3, “Broken Toys.” Just days before episode 2 was released, news came out that Telltale Games would let go of all but a skeletal staff (which would later be relieved early). Later, IP holder Skybound would hire as many back to finish off Clementine’s story.
From what I’ve seen, it was a justified decision, as the new-look development team took a somber, bittersweet penultimate chapter and opted to take the franchise to new places. Clementine and A.J. are pushed to their limits and can go in really dark places if you can stomach it. At the same time, there are some tender, touching moments that balance out the emotional range players will experience.
“Broken Toys” does so much to push the envelope, even when trapped its standing as a second-last episode. The few survivors left at the academy are broken and disheveled after losing almost everything, and Clementine has to be the Atlas holding up their earth. Yet almost immediately, that foundation is tested, putting the player into a tough position not knowing how far they will go to get results.
Even this late in this season, the developers tried out some new gameplay mechanics to deepen the playing experience. It’s difficult to even refer to what’s new this time around without getting into spoilers, but the moment’s impact certainly brings a new perspective to The Walking Dead universe and the idea of what it means to be dead or alive.
That added effort really drives home the notion that The Walking Dead: The Final Season is truly a passion project, as “Broken Toys” brings full circle the choices you’ve made throughout the entire franchise. There were even first season moments that were touched on as early as the first episode, reminding the player of their journey.
At the same time, leaning too hard on nostalgia can become tiresome at some point, especially when they’re little more than pointed references to stuff that happened earlier. There’s a fine balance that needs to be met, and it cheapens the otherwise wholesome moments’ effectiveness.
As thrilling as things can be, The Walking Dead: The Final Season arrives at episode 3 with a weaker technical performance. It’s hard to be too harsh on the developers’ efforts considering their circumstances, but there were quite a few moments where textures flickered erratically or scenes would jump between darkly lit and brightly lit.
More importantly, one of my key decisions regarding one of the main characters seemed to not count to benefit my efforts, despite my actions. There is a moment where you have to avoid a mass of walkers in this season’s new combat arena encounters, and I was grabbed by a walker. Despite pushing it off and killing it, the game didn’t recognize it as a killed walker, and the end-game screen said 100% of all reviewers and influencers who got the copy had the same result.
Despite the unfortunate moments of inconsistency, it did not ultimately tarnish my time with The Walking Dead: The Final Season. I had concerns with how Clementine’s story ends after episode 2 left the franchise’s future up in the air, but those concerns were wiped away after “Broken Toys.” The player is presented with so many questionable decisions, following the season-long theme of questionable parenting in a dark, cruel world.
Your limits will be tested as a guardian, as a protector and as a friend, and the smart decision may not be the right one. The rewards might not be worth the risks, and your judgment is always questionable. It resonated well and hit hard when it needed to, and I cannot wait to see how a story seven years in the making will end later this Spring.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.