A year ago I was looking forward to the announcement of the second season of the great The Wolf Among Us based on the Fables comic. A year ago, I was wondering what Telltale was up to after the final season of The Walking Dead ended. The answers came right after the premiere … Today I look closely at the latest production of the now defunct studio, which was saved from complete embarrassment by the team Skybound Entartainment.

“I’m not the good guy anymore”

Telltale has been in its niche for years, thanks to the gigantic success of the first season of The Walking Dead. The episodic titles quickly ceased to be original, and the studio did not show any ambition to create something bigger and more complicated. And it worked. I myself have completed almost all the items (I can’t tire the second Batman), treating them as the next volumes of my favorite comics. Somewhere at the beginning of 2018, the studio boasted that it was starting to focus on quality not quantity, it would be releasing fewer games, but they would be more polished. They have since released half the game as they filed for bankruptcy under two of the four episodes announced. Nothing that just a few days earlier players paid for the entire season in advance …

After a few weeks, Skybound Entertainment studio came to the rescue. The team took over some of the dismissed Telltale employees and decided to release the third and fourth episodes of the final season of The Walking Dead. We don’t know what stage the production was at before the studio smashed, but it’s Skybound that we owe to get what we paid for.

“Maybe this isn’t a world for children anymore”

The fourth season of The Walking Dead most strongly refers to the first series. The events of series two are rarely mentioned, and series three has been almost completely ignored. Clementine somehow found AJ (the son of Rebecca and Alvin or Carver from season two) and they’ve been traveling just the two of them for several years. Clem and AJ’s relationship is similar to that of Lee and a girl. And it is the boy’s development that is the main theme of the final series. The creators try to answer the question of whether a teenager carrying a lot of experience can raise a child in a world devoid of good and hope.

“The right choice is the one that keeps us alive”

We all probably know that the decisions we make have a real impact on the characters in the second and third plan. The fate of the main characters is planned in advance, so our decisions will change a few dialogues and send to the sand one of the less important characters. Regardless of the actions taken, the final will be the same, only its background will differ. However, the game does everything to make us believe that what is happening on the screen is, in a way, our doing. That’s why all major twists and shockers are related to Alvin Junior. AJ absorbs the teachings of Clementine, closely observes her actions and uses the knowledge gained in this way in important plot moments. If we do torture or throw profanity in front of him, the young man will do the same in a while, thinking that this is how problems need to be solved. The problem is that it does not affect the most important points of the scenario and no matter how they tried, we will not save those who are going to die from death, and thus we will not get rid of those who are dressed in the so-called plot armor.

“They’re gonna feel really stupid when they find out … They are screwing with the wrong people”

Despite the far-fetched science theme, the final season fares quite well. Clem and AJ find themselves in a community of teenagers hiding in their former school deep in the woods. The kids have lived this way from the very beginning and have only recently learned about the ruthlessness of the new world order. Battle-hardened Clementine shows them that they can defend themselves and fight as equals with the invaders. It seems that in the first draft of the scenario, Clem was supposed to dispel doubts and dilemmas by Lee returning in flashbacks. The protagonist of the first series only appears once in one of the episodes, and the conversation is clearly waiting for a sequel that ultimately does not happen. This thread is perhaps the biggest casualty of the Telltale disaster that was not saved by Skybound.

Let’s go back to the plot. The invaders are led by Lilly, a celebrity well known to fans of the first season. If you remember what happened to Lilly and her father Larry, then you know that nothing good is to be expected from her. Lilly becomes the villain of this season, but the plot is much more intimate than the war in season three. The fight against invaders is intertwined with attempts to stay normal, so the kids prepare parties, organize evenings of games and dances. They try to do what they would have been doing if mankind had not devoured each other. This solution is close to the vision of Robert Kirkman, who does not call Walkers “walking dead”, but people. However, it cannot be denied that the idyllic sequences are too long and tedious. The first time it went smoothly, in the second episode I was looking forward to the end of the chapter, and in the third I panicked for the skip option. I haven’t found … In the end, I’m happy with the direction the writers have taken. From the beginning, the story tends to a fairly obvious and expected ending, but we managed to mix it up a bit and come out unscathed.

“In this life now you kill or you die. Or you die and you kill “

The final season brought a substitute for arcade combat scenes. Instead of the QTE festival, during the action sequence, we can move around quite freely and get rid of the Walkers ourselves. Despite this, the fight is heavily scripted, because the elimination of zombies takes place in the order imposed by the developers. Only two or three times in four episodes, we can plan our own way to get through the horde. And the fight itself? Nothing special. We approach the Walker, cut him with a kick in the leg, and then stick the knife into the skull. If we do a second too late, the second will get us and we have to repeat the scene. There are variations in the form of triggering traps or shooting a bow, but rough aiming made me miss the old QTE.

“Look at the flowers”

The final season presented a heavily refreshed engine. The third season looked a lot better than the previous two, with the fourth being another (and final) step forward. At first glance, the little-varied colors seem to merge the backgrounds into one, but fans will notice attempts to refer to the drawings of Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard responsible for the graphic style of the comic. But we’re more interested in how it all works. Surprisingly efficient. All standard solutions for the series are fluid, nothing hangs or muddy. I got more serious crunches in the big fight sequence in the final episode and in episode three, when one of the tasks involved moving in first person view. Fortunately, very shortly.

Managed to. The Skybound team saved what was left in the Telltale ruins and in a short time proved that it was possible to spend the whole without making a sacrifice of yourself. Especially that the final season of The Walking Dead meets the pre-premiere expectations, even despite the great turmoil. Could be less debts, shame about Lee’s broken thread, but I had fun anyway. You will be too, rather only after the cut, but you will.

* Quotes are from The Walking Dead series