If Telltale's The Walking Dead Is Over, It's Ending On A High Note

When The Walking Dead: The Final Season was named, it only referred to the end of the series and the end of Clementine’s story. Now, as Telltale Games begins a “majority studio closure” and has laid off hundreds of workers, the title takes on new meaning. It’s all the more tragic since the latest episode is some of the best Walking Dead we’ve had.

The Final Season’s first episode presented an interesting, intimate scenario. Clementine and her AJ arrived at the Ericson Academy, a run-down school populated by a community of young children. They established themselves within the community and built relationships with a strong cast of characters.

It was a welcome departure from previous series, which moved quickly from location to location. Ericson started to feel like a home, which made it all the more shocking when AJ shot their leader Marlon at the end of the episode, after it was revealed he sold other children to raiders. Episode Two, “Suffer the Children,” builds upon that tension to craft strong character moments and well-directed action sequences.

Much of this has to do with how much time the episode gives to each character in the aftermath of AJ’s misguided murder. We see the wisecracking jokester Louis rocked to the core by his best friend’s death, help the once-aloof Violet as she tries to keep order, and manage AJ’s regret as he comes to terms with his actions.

The episode is full of quiet character moments, as the Ericson community prepares for coming conflict with the raiders and, for a time, outcasts Clem and AJ. It doesn’t get bogged down in introspection, however, finding time to introduce new characters and bring back familiar faces. Highlights include a reclusive, zombie skin-wearing survivor named James and the return of season one’s Lily, now leader of the raiders assaulting Ericson.

It’s hard to think of a more well-rounded cast of allies and villains. It’s gruelling to think this season seems doomed to incompletion.

Clementine is given opportunities to grow in important ways through the episode. Chief among these is the chance to start fledgling romances. In my playthrough, that meant exploring young love with Violet. Nothing about it seems forced, and each interaction was handled with care. It’s not the forced romance you find in many games, but something raw.

I believed in the raw relationship that formed and appreciated seeing a different side of Clementine. ver Beyond romance, Clem’s relationship to AJ also grows, allowing the series to explore her (and the player’s) thoughts about death, community, and even parenthood.

Clem and AJ’s don’t simply react to the plot; they engage with it and with the world they’re in. It’s resulted in moments of honesty that the series hasn’t really managed before now.

“Suffer the Children” intersperses crucial character development with compelling combat encounters. The first episode revised how melee combat worked, allowing free movement and stressing smart positioning against walkers.

Here, Clementine receives a bow to fend of zombies and raiders. A standout siege sequence transforms into a third person shooter that forced me to scan for the best targets and avoid tunnel vision lest a walker grab me from behind. Traditional quick time events, when they occur, are fast and confident.

There’s a sense that the team at Telltale had finally achieved comfort with their signature format. It even extends into dialog, where match cuts and strong camera angles help drive the pace in intense moments.

It’s this confidence and comfort that makes the series’ fate bitter. Telltale’s sudden firings came right as its flagship series had reached a new high point. The company hasn’t said whether they’ll finish The Walking Dead: The Final Season, but it seems unlikely.

Instead of pressing forward, presumably to equally impressive effects, hundreds of workers find themselves without jobs or severance. I don’t know what’s going to happen to The Walking Dead, but the series, and especially the talented people who breathed new life into it, deserved better.


Comments

    It really disappoints me that they will not finish at least this series before shutting down.
    That'll teach me not to buy season passes.

      Or maybe they could have finished it if enough people did.

        not gonna pay for an incomplete game. when it was finished i would have bought it. glad i didnt buy before delivery now.

        The issue was mismanagement of money, not a lack of sales.

          I take it you've seen their books to jump to that conclusion?

            No, I've been keeping up with all the news to come out. They over-expanded, overhired and mismanaged their money.

            You don't go broke because you're rolling in the cash :) That's not how finance works :)

              Actually you can.... Heard of "cash-flow"?
              I'll give you an example.

              I worked for a company that went bust last year, they were profitable had a good steady revenue stream.

              We had just finished off a few projects and were waiting on payment of those while starting a new project, we were still indebted to suppliers from the previous projects and so couldn't call on them for materials until the previous contracts were payed out. We still had several million in the bank, but you need that for every day expenses (those damned wages and stuff.) So the new project half completed could not continue. Mind you the company had an excellent credit score but borrowing money wasn't an option, once fees, interest etc were taken out it would have widdled the slim profit margin away to... well negative. (It is a very low profit industry, in part thanks to china and also some Eastern European countries).

              So with several million in the bank the company had to file for insolvency, then once debtors well some of them were paid, bankruptcy.

              Should we have not taken on the next project then you ask? Well what would we do? you can't have staff doing nothing from no work, it would have been mass redundancies to try and keep the company afloat and once you pay your debts their ain't much cash left. So they took a chance to keep the company going, in hope some one would pay early or pigs fly. (No one wants to see the business they started go under).

              Profits aren't kept in a bank, that's a waste. Most businesses worth their salt either have it invested or are using it in other means to try an expand/better the company.

              A bad patch can kill any business. "Mismanaged" is a fairly broad term, they could have been expecting bigger initial sales to boost cash flow, or any number of factors. You don't finish a game and valve just gives you a wad of cash. It's based on sales, their projections based on previous games could have set their expectation to high or predicted revenue returning faster.. Thousands of factors. They could have been in trouble for a while and kept trying rather than just giving up.

              But I guess companies are just always evil.

                But I guess companies are just always evil.

                When you keep all your staff working up until 30 minutes prior to a meeting where you let go up to 200+ of them with no pay, no holiday pay and nothing else? In this case, Telltale definitely shot themselves in the foot. By the way, nice shifting of the goalposts, strawmanning and exacerbating the conversation here. I said they mismanaged themselves financially, you're taking it to the absolute extreme :)

                And in all of what you just said? You kinda just backed up everything I said fyi. They took some risks they shouldn't have, they mismanaged themselves, their money and screwed not only themselves, but their 200+ employees. You can argue it all you want with semantics, but I'm working with facts here, infact there's a class action lawsuit going ahead. I'm not sure what horse you have in this race, likely none, but you're incredibly defensive over this... which is really bizarre O_o

    It's kind of pissing me off that this is still on sale. You can still literally buy this product for full price on Steam, PSN, Xbox Live etc. Not at a reduced price. There's no announcement of anything on the Steam page at any time. While I understand Telltale is talking to others about helping them continue, they should've pulled the sale of this product in the meantime to avoid issues incase they don't get to finish it. This is a scummy, shitty practice of them.

    It’s funny cause other media outlets are reporting that this latest episode is one of the worst of the franchise

    My two cents here but most of the fans who paid for the season pass should be either getting some form of compensation, aren’t we entitled as much as them jackasses at netflix? Like who the hell even cares about minecraft... just finish 2 episodes so at least some of us who are trophy, achievement hunters or what not are able to in some form be able to get that 100%

      No you're not as entitled as much. You just have a consumer guarantee with Telltale. Netflix have this big and really long contract with them.

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