The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 2 Review
Goodbye Clementine. You deserved better than this.
UPDATE: The series will go on and conclude as planned thanks to Skybound’s intervention. The review score remains the same, so just ignore the comments about this being a poor series finale, as we will finish Clem’s story after all.
Original review: When I first began writing this review, I had no idea it might be the last I ever wrote about a Telltale Games release. After playing through The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 2 “Suffer the Children” I set about writing my typical review of a new episode, mentioning how its events will play out in those to come. Of course, after the effective closure of Telltale, those future episodes are most likely never coming and this “transitory episode” as I later call it will actually serve as a series finale. That changes things, but I have decided to not let it change this review too much.
Below you will find what I had written just before the news broke of Telltale’s closing. I was about halfway done when the news broke, literally editing up a paragraph as Twitter began blowing up. I think it’s important to see how this episode would have been received originally. Afterward you can read more of my thoughts about this series and its developer.
Here’s my original review as it had been written…
Serving as the finale to a series that has been a significant part of gaming since 2012, The Walking Dead: The Final Season has a heavy burden to bear with each episode released. Telltale has to balance multiple things as they tell the final story of Clementine, bring this series to a close, all while telling an interesting and new story within a universe that has been very well explored through multiple forms of media. Episode 1 – “Done Running” knocked it out of the park in many ways, but Telltale usually nails their intro. It’s in the in-between episodes that things can get a little shaky. So it was nice, as the credits rolled, that The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 2 “Suffer the Children” left me with a sense that this last season is on very solid ground.
Picking up right where Episode 1 left off, things aren’t looking great for Clem and AJ. AJ has just killed the leader of their new community. He deserved it, having just murdered a fellow survivor then trying to pin it on Clementine, but he wasn’t posing a threat and his friends aren’t too happy about the whole situation. Tensions flare suddenly and greatly, setting the stage for internal conflicts that surely won’t be settled any time soon. Of course, there’s still that lingering outside threat, which may involve someone from Clementine’s past.
Looking back on the whole of The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 2, there aren’t a ton of memorable moments. Instead the episode gels together as one of the simpler narratives Telltale has put together. Things heat up at the Ericson School for Troubled Youth, the action moves out to the wilderness where the real stakes are set, then everyone prepares for a final showdown that thankfully was not left as a cliffhanger. In between these larger story beats is where Suffer the Children does its best and worst work, delivering some key moments for the franchise, but not really surprising the audience all that much.
Watching Clementine mature within the atmosphere of the zombie apocalypse has always been a fascinating component of the series and The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 2 delivers some of the best examples of this. AJ also brings his own interesting facets to this part of the series, offering us a look inside the mind of a child who has known no other life than one surrounded by death. And while these more personal moments of drama are excellent, Episode 2 also takes time to expand the scope of the series as it delves into larger events, some of which come straight from the comics.
Beyond the story we once again get a taste of Telltale’s future, and it is a bright one so far
What Suffer the Children lacks in some ways are the tough choices we’ve seen in the past. Few options here feel like life-or-death decisions, but what this allows is a more subtle approach to Telltale’s usual formula. While you may not make a clear cut choice of who lives and who dies, what this latest series is doing is forcing players to make more nuanced choices within the narrative. AJ is the best example, with small, almost offhanded comments coming back in significant ways. Once you key into it, every dialogue or action choice feels more relevant and impactful.
Even with this, Episode 2 still feels a bit like a transitory episode. Much of what happens here could likely have been trimmed up and split among other episodes. It doesn’t tell much of its own story, aside from the opening moments which are lessened a bit by how quickly their consequences are dealt with. Instead what we get is key moment after key moment, with the ramifications of each either being somewhat small, or left on the table for later. Thankfully, each of these key moments is interesting and does hold high potential for the last two episodes we still have coming, so fans will still be very happy with Telltale’s work here.
Beyond the story we once again get a taste of Telltale’s future, and it is a bright one so far. The new gameplay style of The Walking Dead: The Final Season offers players more direct control, mimicking third-person action titles more than the point-and-click genre from which this series spawned.
And that was where I stopped…
As you can see, many things about this episode were heartening for the future of Telltale and its games. Of course, that is no longer the case. There is no future for Telltale, let alone a “bright” one. But this isn’t about the developer, it’s about what is ostensibly their final release. The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 2 “Suffer the Children”.
Unfortunately it is quite clear that this was never meant to serve as a finale in any way. There’s no feeling of closure to it, and it doesn’t wrap up any major storylines. It ends on a minor cliffhanger, with tons of loose ends left for the now defunct final two episodes. So, as this is a review, should you play the episode? If you’ve been a fan and already bought TWD: The Final Season then yes, definitely. However, for those who’ve waited out this season or this series, the sudden closure of Telltale truncates this “Final Season” too much to be worth any price. New buyers will feel cheated and upset, just as longtime fans likely already feel.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 2 “Suffer the Children” is a solid continuation of an amazing first episode, but now that things have changed so has the feeling one is left with by the time the credits roll. Missing out on Clementine’s final storyline will go down as one of the greatest injustices in video game history. I’m leaving the original score as intended, but only because things can change and this episode should still be judged as it was originally crafted. If you haven’t yet bought The Walking Dead: The Final Season, I think it’s safe to say you should avoid it now. But if you’ve been along for this ride the whole time, you’ll at least get to say goodbye, even if it isn’t the way everyone wanted.
- Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
- Published By: Telltale Games
- Developed By: Telltale Games
- Genre: Graphic Adventure
- US Release Date: September 25th, 2018
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "A fine second episode, but a terrible series finale. Those who've been along for the journey should stick it out, but don't expect the grand conclusion we were all hoping for. Still, taking some final moments with Clem is worth the pain."