The Walking Dead - The Final Season Episode 1: Ombra Reviews
After we were forced to switch gears with A New Frontier, we're back moving through the zompocalypse landscape with Clementine and her "adopted" son AJ. The two are on their own as they have, understandably, grown a little wary of latching onto any group they encounter. Times are tough as AJ mentions repeatedly how hungry he is. A quick stop to scavenge for food goes as well as you would expect it to in The Walking Dead universe, setting the stage for the first episode.
If you have played the previous seasons you are able to import your save to carry over your choices. In case you don't have a save, or you aren't satisfied with your previous outcomes, the game will provide you a recap allowing you to choose which path you'd like to take. Once the recap is completed we are quickly introduced to a whole new cast of characters in a new location. While the setting and faces are all unique they can't help but feel all to familiar. A veteran of The Walking Dead games, comics, and tv shows will know exactly what's going to happen in this setting, with these folks. The comforting thought of a warm meal and a roof over your head has been seen time and time again in the series and it's present in this episode. Clementine and AJ will spend time interacting with their new community members and assisting them with tasks such as hunting and fighting off the walkers or "monsters," as AJ calls them. As usual, it doesn't take long for things to go awry causing tensions below the surface to bubble over. Nothing truly strays from the traditional Walking Dead story style with one exception: the community is entirely run by teenagers and children.
As someone who has read every issue of the comic and has, unfortunately, seen every episode of the show, this small alteration to the traditional structure is a welcome addition. Seeing how an entire group of young adults and children run a community is a concept that hasn't been explored. Knowing how often Clementine was more rational than the adults she encountered has me thinking that the kids can't do any worse. This alone has me interested in seeing how things unfold in future episodes considering the trademark choice system is alive and well. As is the case in all of Telltale's games what you say, or don't say, as well as what you do will determine how Clementine thinks, what people think of her, and, most importantly, shape how AJ views the world around him. So far the choices I've made have planted the seeds of possible big decisions to come. It's nice to feel some heft to the decision making process as some of their games make better use of it than others. I'm happy to say that this episode made me think carefully about my words and actions.
In terms of game play this iteration is the same as what we're used to from Telltale. This is their last game on the Telltale Tool engine so you won't see any tweaks to how the game plays and feels. The engine has been the focus of criticism in the past due to frame rate issues and an overall clunky feel. I didn't notice any frame rate issues playing on a PS4 Pro but the game still controls as it has in the past. I wouldn't expect anyone who hasn't enjoyed the mechanics previously to change their tune.
Episode One ends as so many Telltale episodes typically do: with a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more. The episodic video game is their forte and there are few others who do it better. If you have enjoyed the previous seasons, you won't be disappointed with where our final journey with Clementine begins.