The Walking Dead wasn’t the first Telltale Game on the market, but some would say it’s where they got their start.
With The Walking Dead, Telltale got into a groove. They understood how to tell an effective story, create compelling characters, and put you in charge of impossible choices.
Done Running doesn’t really hit the same beats as opening episodes in other seasons but it does set up a dark and bleak future which is sure to bring the series to a chaotic conclusion.
The end is beginning
Set a few years after the events of A New Frontier, Clementine is once again front and center of a Walking Dead game, no longer sharing lead duties with Javi and his family. Within the first five minutes, it’s clear that’s for the best.
Watching Clem grow through each season has been an emotional rollercoaster but she is fully in the role of mother to AJ now, which feels like an appropriate note to both begin and end her journey. Much like Lee was a father figure to her, now she tries to set a good example for him.
This Season feels like it’s going to be about what Clem has learned in this horror-filled wasteland, but also what we’ve learned as well. Will the player repeat some of the mistakes they might have made with Lee? Will they do better this time? Perhaps they’ll be worse.
Throughout Done Running, AJ is always closely watching Clementine, learning her behaviour, coming to terms with this twisted universe, and deciding how he will leave his mark. It’s why this episode takes a long time to get going.
For about 80% of it, you’ll wonder where it’s all going. It’s very dialogue-heavy and not entirely decision-filled. In fact, as first episodes go, you’ll feel like you haven’t made a tough call in its entire three hour duration.
But as soon as the credits roll, it becomes all too clear that shit is well and truly going down and you’ll soon understand that build up was all worth it.
It seems fitting, then, that TTG are debuting brand new ways to play with The Final Season, as well as an all-new engine that provides all new acting possibilities for their cast of characters and gives episodes even more dramatic tension.
In it’s fourth and final season, The Walking Dead actually feels closer to a survival horror Life is Strange than it does the QTE comic book from 2012.
For starters, the right stick now offers a fully controllable camera which lets you turn to face Clem but also pan around the desolate, hand-drawn landscapes in full. This makes movement feel even more free and flexible.
You can also choose to engage in unscripted attacks with Walkers now by stunning them with a kick to the leg, before stabbing them through the skull. Fight sequences aren’t always forced on the player, but you can try out other strategies like directing them into traps.
There’s even a slew of collectibles to find in each episode, later used to decorate your room. You’ll find everything from deer horns to hand-drawn pictures so it’s quite a selection.
But what’s even more clear about TWD is you can now see how your words and choices affect a character. They might cringe at a joke or show genuine remorse for something they’ve done wrong. Your companions and enemies don’t just feel like robots anymore.
And that’s never more clear than with AJ and the relationship being built up with Clem. Everything you do shapes the man that he becomes, the things you tell him to do, whether you choose to reprimand him, if you show compassion or callousness.
But while it works well, the writing is the star of the show here. At once, you see a beauty in this fractured, blood-thirsty world through the eyes of a child, but also the clear desperation for survival forever looming, desperate to take over. The mechanics also manage to capture that, mostly, perfectly.
Done Running sets the scene for a season none of us are really ready to finish. We ‘raised’ this scared young girl into a strong, independent mother through one impossible decision after another. And while Episode One never truly puts us on the spot until the bitter end, there’s an impending sense of dread that worse moments will inevitably follow, but they will almost certainly lead to some of the series’ finest.
+ The new engine and mechanics suit TWD perfectly and work really well
+ New cast of characters written well and feed into an engaging story
+ The setup for the rest of the season is an excellent cliffhanger
– Slow to start
– No tough decisions till the bitter end
– Brief scene lag when transitioning after key moments
The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode One Done Running Review
7.5 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code provided by the publisher