Also On: PSN, XBLA
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
While the first half of Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 2 felt a little underwhelming coming off of the excellent conclusion of the first season, Telltale has managed to turn things around over the last two episodes. Episode 4 was certainly the highlight of the season for me, and thankfully the things end on a high note with the fifth and final episode for season 2. While the second season isn’t as focused on building a strong relationship between Clementine and the rest of the cast like her relationship with Lee from S1, I’ve certainly grown to appreciate characters like Luke and Jane. And it’s those relationships that are really tested in “No Going Back”.
The previous episode ended with a pretty huge cliffhanger, putting the remaining survivors of Clementine’s group directly into harm’s way after encountering some well-armed survivors. This final episode picks up just mere seconds afterwards, putting you in the middle of a vicious firefight between opposing groups. The fallout of this encounter leads to a lot of anger, making the tenuous ties of Clementine’s group more fragile than ever. And it just gets worse as the episode progresses, leading to a final showdown between two characters that’s as violent and heart-wrenching as you’d expect from this series.
As always, this review stays spoiler free, so no hints here as to who lives, dies, or comes out the other end decidedly different than before. But much like the finale of Season 1 left a few loose threads hanging, you can expect the same from the final moments of “No Going Back”. Clearly there’s meant to be a season 3, but we’ll leave you guessing at what characters it might feature. If you’ve been following this season up to the final episode, I’d guess you’re not going to miss out on the conclusion. But if you’ve held off on Season 2 up to this point, curious as to how the overall reception of the season would be, I’d say you’re safe jumping in now.
While I do think the mechanics of the game felt a little stale, especially now that we know what to expect out of the narrative focused adventures Telltale has produced thus far, that doesn’t mean that the season isn't compelling. It’s definitely the story that drives you forward here, and being able to absorb each chapter back to back will likely be the ideal way to consume this content. Still, I hope that Telltale has some surprises up their sleeves for future franchises like Borderlands and Game of Thrones. I’d also like to see just a tad more emphasis on gameplay for the inevitable Walking Dead follow-up. The story beats and decisions are great at absorbing you into the tale, but I’d like just a bit more freedom of movement, and some world building that’s not entirely dependent on confined environments and character dialogue.
I think you’ll find that “No Going Back” delivers a satisfying conclusion to the season, while still leaving the door open just enough to keep you guessing at what comes next. Your bond to Clementine, and to the new and old characters from this season, feels as strong as ever in the final episode. Just keep in mind that nobody makes it out of Season 2 unscathed.