Suffer the Children may have derailed the momentum from Done Running, but Broken Toys has got The Walking Dead back on track.
There’s plenty of action, light-hearted fun, tension, death, destruction, and a scene that will have you fighting back the tears if you’ve played since the beginning. This one has a bit of everything.
By this point, Clementine’s actions have molded AJ into a character that is always thinking for himself. What he’s thinking about depends on the type of lifestyle you’ve encouraged him to lead. And the actions he takes in each situation.
You can still guide him towards certain choices, but you won’t always be able to convince him your way is the right way. To some degree, that helps take the shackles off this season a little bit, liberating you and giving you a chance to just enjoy the narrative without constantly worrying whether you’ve done the right thing.
It also helps that the directing does a fantastic job of foreshadowing throughout, constantly catching you off guard with its twists and turns, but also focusing on facial expressions, line delivery, and what’s happening in the environment around you.
That’s especially significant considering what happened at the end of the last episode. Which we’re going to talk about a little bit now, so, you know, spoilers and all that.
We left it off after a big gun battle in the school grounds with several members of the group being captured and taken onto Lilly’s bandit’s boat. Depending on your choice, it was either Violet or Louis, and so you now need to work with the group to put together a fool-proof rescue mission to get them back.
It begins with a little bit of scouting in order to build your strategy but swiftly moves onto planning your steps, before executing the plan and trying to get onto the boat in the most unorthodox way imaginable. Seriously, this is a masterclass.
This time around, Telltale and Skybound have got the right blend of action going with quick-thinking decision-making, presenting different opportunities to take down your adversaries. It adds to the tension of the episode, constantly keeping your eyes transfixed on the screen as the story moves forward.
More than ever, though, this episode feels closer to The Walking Dead source material than the games have in quite some time. It’s not just the gleaming comic-book esque aesthetic, the sheer brutality on offer, or the amount of swears flying around, but this world genuinely does feel bleak and the situation dire and almost hopeless.
And yet, there’s a moment in this episode which tries something very different with the Walkers. It’s a fascinating, deep, almost emotional scene, that provides just a glimmer of hope, and one that could yet have an important role to play in the final part of Clementine’s journey.
Since we were introduced to James and the Whisperers in the last episode, Skybound and Telltale have taken the opportunity to introduce players to these characters in a very different way from the TV show. They’ve offered a perspective which certainly doesn’t mirror what we’ve seen Daryl and co go up against. Something the game’s have long prided themselves on.
The important thing here is that Skybound and Telltale have pulled this season back from the brink. Circumstances aside, Suffer the Children was a low point, and we said in our review that ‘the final season of such an important, illustrious series deserves better.’
What’s been accomplished with Broken Toys is a strong and effective lead in to Clementine’s last ever adventure on March 29th 2019. We get to see our beloved protagonist be a stone-cold bad ass from the opening scene, but also display the emotional strength we’ve come to know and love over the past seven years.
Broken Toys has helped prepare me for the curtain call, the episode I never really wanted to play, but one I know had to come. Despite the missteps of Suffer the Children, I now feel mostly prepared for whatever comes next – satisfied by the narrative arcs in play, intrigued to see how they’re all tied up.
Something big and dramatic is almost certainly on the horizon. Potentially a moment to rival the unforgettable conclusion of Season 1. But no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, this journey is ready to go full circle and come to an end. Even more so now that it’s mostly free of the disappointments that preceded it.
A few performance, graphical and sound issues aside, this is one of the best episodes of The Walking Dead Telltale have ever put together. And not a moment too soon.
+ Action blended in brilliantly with story
+ Some big, tough decisions to make
+ One of the best episodes of The Walking Dead ever
+ An appropriate, effective penultimate episode
– Slight lag and performance issues towards the end
– A few minor graphical hitches
The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode Three Broken Toys Review
8 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code kindly received from Skybound Games