Days before the release of The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode Two, Telltale Games stunned the gaming world by announcing a majority studio closure and laying off nearly all of their staff. This unfortunate turn of events led to many questions regarding the emotional state of those impacted by the sudden job loss and mass confusion over what would happen to The Walking Dead and all of Telltale’s other ongoing projects.
Weeks later during New York Comic Con, Robert Kirkman revealed that Skybound Entertainment acquired the rights to the game and would be working with former Telltale Games employees to finish and release the final two episodes. Below are my thoughts on the first of these last two episodes and whether or not you should make some time to revisit Clementine’s story.
Shaping The Way AJ Sees The World
Broken Toys picks up immediately after the events in Suffer the Children and revolves around Clementine working with Violet or Louis to devise a rescue plan for their captured friends. After gathering intel from Abel and deciding his fate, Clem assumes the tough responsibility of exacting revenge against The Delta while also teaching AJ whether or not killing others is justified. The episode features more encounters with James, interesting revelations about other characters and a tense standoff between both sides that ends on a cliffhanger.
From a storytelling standpoint, Broken Toys does a good job of building up the anticipation for the final battle between Clementine’s group and The Delta. At the same time, it explores themes of brokenness to further explain the hardships that kids and teenagers face while growing up in a post-apocalyptic world. Writer Lauren Mee also briefly address the topic of believing that some elements of a person can still exist within despite them being walkers. This dynamic isn’t fully dissected in this episode but it will be interesting to see if it comes up again in the final episode.
While one can feel a sense of hope for our protagonists, the overall tone is dire meaning that even if Clementine and AJ survive they will be forever changed by this experience. The task of teaching AJ can’t be taken lightly and every lesson contributes to his growth. There’s also a special reunion that takes place within this episode that is guaranteed to generate an emotional response from fans who have been following the series from the beginning. It achieves the goal of raising the stakes even higher and makes the wait for the concluding storyline feel even longer to see how everything ultimately pans out.
Tough Choices Dictate Life And Death
Much like the previously released two episodes from this season, Broken Toys looks absolutely fantastic thanks to the signature yet captivating art style that we’ve all become accustomed to. Every character model along with the individual voiceover performance work of each actor or actress feels complete and evokes a sense of emotion that will genuinely make you love or hate who they are portraying. In addition to this, every condensed setting feels intimate but also accurately matches the tone explored throughout the entire episode.
In addition to having choice based conversations, the majority of gameplay scenarios within Broken Toys are fixated on exploring your surroundings, using items within an environment to aid in your survival and using weapons against nearby enemies. There are a total of 6 collectibles in this episode to capture and place within your room. When compared to other episodes within the series, the format is pretty much the same ( including occasional technical hiccups here an there) and will take you about 2 hours to complete.
Broken Toys Sets The Tone For An Emotional Ending
As I stated above, the voice acting throughout this episode is nothing short of remarkable. The musical score is also on par with every performance and is elevated even further when major shifts occur within the storyline. In terms of value, Broken Toys is slightly more important than the previous episode because it moves us closer to the finale while keeping us guessing as to how Clementine and AJ’s journey will end.
Broken Toys is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. With the stakes being as high as they are now and AJ learning and growing from Clementine’s decisions, as the player you’ll truly feel the same sense of responsibility that is often shared by parents trying to teach their kids right from wrong. This coupled along with the fear of not knowing how their stories will end adds to the horror element and effectively sets us up for what should be an epic conclusion.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of The Walking Dead: The Final Season “Broken Toys” for the PlayStation 4 provided by Skybound Games.