So much has happened since September. For a time, we thought that The Final Season may not conclude due to Telltale’s rash of layoffs. Fortunately, Skybound Games has taken up the mantle to complete the series, giving fans, developers, and vocal talent desired closure. Episode 3, the penultimate installment in Clementine’s adventure, ably picks up where we left our heroes and follows the natural trajectory one would expect.
Although the skeleton of the plot is rudimentary, the details are what make Episode 3 enjoyable. With some relative surprises and overtly predictable moments, the episode maintained my attention throughout, even when the gameplay became frustrating. Faces old and new arrive to help and hinder Clementine along the way, each serving their appropriate roles. Episode 3’s writing won’t floor anyone or force you to pull out a box of tissues, but peppered moments of intensity and a satisfying build up to closure make it worth playing.
However, the gameplay is at times questionable. The developers have once again tried to implement gameplay where story makes more sense, and that means anything but exquisite execution will undermine their efforts at immersion. Although some fascinating ideas are introduced, one part in particular served more to frustrate than entertain, as technical issues bogged down the experience. Fortunately, these problem parts are few and far between, and the developers even did away with most of the “walk around and talk to everyone” sections.
The comic book art design still works, with adequate if sometimes stiff animations. Sudden cuts may jar the player as intensity builds, but the rest of the excitement is maintained through good camera work and choreography. A series staple, the voice acting carries the script skillfully, while the only music to be noticed is at the bookends of the episode. Even brief auditory asides during scene transitions would be appreciated.
Episode 3 has left me wondering what’s going to happen, but passively so. I couldn’t imagine feeling this way when I began the season, but obvious setbacks for the team have likely hindered inspiration and execution. I want to laud their efforts and sing their praises, especially considering everything that has happened, but the facts are that Episode 3 has only given the series buoyancy, which is hard to accept at this point in the season. While it is a positive experience, I can’t help but feel lukewarm about poor Clementine’s fate in this harsh world.