Graphically things are no better, with the game’s cel-shaded comic book appearance ageing badly, along with the weirdly stilted motion of its human characters. The walkers at least look about right, lurching around like drunkards, but for everyone else it only serves to increase the difficulty of suspending disbelief.
There are some genuinely heartstring-twanging scenes and you really feel for Clem and her increasingly wayward charge. However, the crumminess of the action, that breaks up the pivotal vocal exchanges, never fails to give you a sinking feeling the second you leave a scene where everyone just wants to have a good old chat and head back out into the woods.
The whole season has also been afflicted by game-breaking bugs. We spent several days attempting to play episodes only for the game to lock up on the loading screen or crash before it could get that far. Deleting everything, reinstalling from scratch, and disconnecting the console from the Internet eventually made it possible to continue, but that’s not a process that inspires joy and contentment.
When The Walking Dead first emerged in 2012 it was mould-breaking. Its real-seeming protagonists and solemn, sometimes heartbreaking action, as well as its willingness to dispense with compelling, central characters without a word of warning, made everything feel new and dangerous. Unfortunately, the series failed to evolve, and while the same positive qualities are present in The Final Season, we’ve seen it all before.
We’ve also seen other games do it better, in particular Dontnod’s excellent Life Is Strange and its sequel, which look and play far better than this. If you’ve stuck with the series to this point, the last four episodes are worth playing despite having to make it through the technical problems and head-shakingly misconceived action sequences, but if Skybound wants to continue the franchise, it’s going to need an almighty reboot.
The Waking Dead: The Final Season Episode 4
In Short: The Walking Dead finishes much as it began, with believable characters making heartbreaking choices, interspersed with flounderingly inept, QTE-laden attempts at action.
Pros: Authentic characters, a catalogue of genuine threats to their survival, and a real sense of consequence to your decisions. Players will remember that.
Cons: The battle sequences are terrible, the dated graphics do nothing for your sense of immersion, and you regularly have to make choices with only a minimal clue as to their outcome.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Price: £18.99 (season pass)
Publisher: Skybound Games
Developer: Skybound Games
Release Date: 14th August 2018 (Switch TBA)
Age Rating: 18
By Nick Gillett
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