The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 “Suffer the Children” Review
It would be impossible to review the latest episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season without talking about the recent news of Telltale Games essentially closing down. Playing the latest episode of the indie game studio’s flagship franchise has reminded me of all the things that I’ll miss about Telltale Games – great stories, engaging characters and some bloody tough choices. Episode 2, “Suffer the Children,” which might end up being the last instalment released, leaves some things to be desired but keeps up the solid pace established in the season opener.
Episode 1‘s shocking finale was a cliffhanger of sorts, as young AJ shocked everyone, including Clem, by blowing Marlon away without justification. It turns out AJ was doing what Clem (you) had taught him to do – kill without hesitation – and all that talk of “consequences” in Telltale games has suddenly taken tangible form in the shape of a naive little boy with a smoking revolver in his hand. Episode 2 sees Clem dealing with the aftermath of AJ’s rash act, as the rest of the school’s inhabitants are angry and want AJ and Clem gone.
A Killer Dilemma
Telltale has set up a classic moral dilemma: is it ok to murder a murderer? AJ looked to me for answers and guidance, and I was left genuinely squirming, trying to explain to this child that what he did was wrong, no matter what I might have implied before. Just like in Episode 1, I felt the pressure of knowing that what I said and did now could shape the future – would AJ learn from this and find the right path again, or was I witnessing the slow transformation of an innocent child into what might become an amoral sociopath down the road? It might sound dramatic, but I really feel that the stakes in this season are higher than previous Telltale titles I’ve played.
In its story, Episode 2 wanders a bit more than I would have liked, as Clem and AJ seem to bounce from one dangerous scenario to the next, meeting a bunch of new characters and experiencing lots of unexpected twists. If there’s one upside to the meandering plot, it’s that there will be lots of surprises and it’s never what you could call predictable. Again, your biggest antagonists are humans, not zombies, and I’d still like to see a lot more actual walkers in this Walking Dead game. Overall though, Telltale’s usual high standard of writing and dialogue kept me glued to my monitor the whole way through, and this series’ narrative quality continues to do the Walking Dead proud.
More of the Same
I’m still digging the enhanced gameplay mechanics, such as in the improved combat, but I must say it was a disappointment to see that Episode 2 didn’t expand on them even more. You’re once again forced to use some strategy when fighting groups of walkers, choosing to take out knees or go straight for the kill. That’s great, and there’s some genuine challenge posed at several points – but it feels like a repeat of last episode. I would be a bit concerned that the novelty would really wear off by the end of the season without some new gameplay wrinkles – if there are more episodes, that is.
It might not mix things up from the first episode, and the story might feel a bit disjointed, but “Suffer the Children” is still an enjoyable, bloody good time and well worth a play through. You’ll once again sweat as you try to keep little AJ on the straight-and-narrow, all while embedding sharp objects in zombie skulls in your fight for survival. With the usual masterful writing and characterization, Telltale Games shows us again why their Walking Dead has been among the franchise’s best interpretations, in any medium. If this is indeed the end for the series (and the studio) at least it goes out on a strong note. Farewell Telltale – it’s been a fun ride.
** A PC game code was provided by the publisher **
- Truly tough moral dilemmas
- Great writing
- Some fun combat
- Gameplay mechanics still need depth
- Meandering plot