April 6-7, 2024
Back in 2012, Telltale set in motion an episodic adventure that would set a new standard for storytelling in video games. Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead introduced fans to university professor-turned-convicted criminal Lee Everett and a young girl named Clementine, who set in motion a whirlwind story that, much to the dismay of many loyal follows, will come to a conclusion this year with the franchise’s fourth and final season.
“Good stories know when to end, and I think the time is now for that,” season four lead writer James Windeler tells Supanova. “We don’t want to keep the franchise alive and going if we feel like the story is coming to a natural conclusion.”
Windeler says the character of Clementine has been central to their treatment of The Walking Dead, and given how she was introduced to fans back in season one, her transformation over the past six years has been incredible.
“She’s not a usual Walking Dead protagonist; she started as a really little girl and over the course of our franchise she’s grown to be a really capable, strong survivor,” Windeler says.
“We’ve grown with her,” he adds. “We see the Walking Dead world through a different pair of eyes and a different perspective and it allows us to touch on material that isn’t looked at in the show.”
As the series enters its final season, it feels as though it’s coming full circle, with Clementine stepping into the role of mentor and protector, like Lee once was.
The story picks up a few years after season three, A New Frontier, with Clementine and the child she’s protecting, AJ, “on their last legs” and looking for a place to call home. They stumble across a school that’s been kept out of the realms of the wars and battles and could potentially provide the safe haven they need.
“That’s the starting point for the story and we see a lot of development in terms of Clementine and AJ’s relationship and the interactions with the school, because it’s a brand new community and there are all sorts of tension and problems that might develop from them arriving there,” Windeler explains.
“We’re fairly advanced in the timeline right now and things are pretty grim and dark and it is also the final chapter, so we’re taking things to a pretty dark place.”
Windeler also says the gameplay is a “departure from previous Telltale Games”, with numerous features added this season that players haven’t seen from the company before.
The visuals are getting an overhaul too, with a new “Graphic Black art style”, while an over-the-shoulder camera and small collectables systems will assist in more exploration. Thing gets really interesting when it comes to the combat side of things, with season four introducing segments of unscripted combat throughout the game.
“Clementine’s free to move and there’s really kind of a sense of being in the thick of the action with her, so there’s feelings of danger and tension,” he tells.
It’s those engaging environments and battles that will make the title more immersive for players, but ultimately, it’s the underlying story that still makes it so engaging and relatable.
“These are human stories, [Robert] Kirkman will say that himself about the franchise,” Windeler tells. “It’s a melodrama set against a post-apocalyptic background and that’s absolutely why people connect with it, because you’re able to tell stories of human beings trying to adapt.”
The way Clementine’s story ends will be determined by the player’s actions throughout the game, which might sound like a lot of pressure to be putting on a fan who’s been there from the start, but, as Windeler points out, “people play [Telltale] games for the difficult choices and difficult scenarios.”
“We want the player to feel like the saga, the journey that they’ve been on will ultimately come to a very satisfying and emotional conclusion,” he adds.
Telltale released The Walking Dead: Michonne back in 2016, which begs the question as to whether or not we’ll see any spin-offs or storylines from beloved or new characters in the future. “We’re calling it the final season for a reason, but never say never,” he says. “We never want to rule anything out, but right now it’s the end of Clementine’s story.”
The Walking Dead: The Final Season is released August 14 on PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One.