I've never really had difficulty starting a game before. Usually, it's a joyous occasion where I can easily hit the start button and dive into the next adventure. Such was not the case with Take Us Back, the final episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Through both the amazing moments and the weaker ones, I've come to care for Telltale's groundbreaking series. I've also come to love Clementine as a character, and could easily play more games that feature her. However, all stories must come to an end, and this is Clementine's story's end. Is it a satisfying end, or is this a sour note?
Opening right where Broken Toys left off, Clementine and AJ find themselves having to quickly escape an exploding steamboat. It's a dramatic start to the episode, which has the characters climbing over the sides, killing both zombies and humans, and trying to not fall to their death. It's captivating and adds a sense of early drama. For the first time, I was no longer sure Clementine would make it out of every situation, and that alone suddenly added a very new and tense edge to each encounter. Could this be Clementine's last fight? I was never sure, but the idea always terrified me. Suddenly characters seemed much more vulnerable than they've ever been before.
As the game progresses the two will find themselves in new and harsher situations. All of your decisions made about and for AJ finally come to a head. You taught this kid what he needs to do to survive, and he's going to be acting out. Maybe he's a harsh survivor, making decisions for other people and choosing to sacrifice one person for another. Or maybe he's passive, letting events play out without his own interference. Either way, I feel like AJ has genuinely grown as a character in a way that reflected Clementine's growth in the original season. However, it's not a complete 1:1 copy thanks to AJ's total lack of knowledge of any time before zombies. He doesn't quite have the values we do, or at least only has what Clementine has been able to teach him.
As for the rest of the cast, Take us Back makes the interesting decision to cut almost all of them. With the exception of Tenn and either Violet or Louis, the rest of the cast basically spends their time back at the fort. Whoever's with you get some solid growth, but it's a bit of a shame for the others to get the back seat. Especially in the cases of Ruby, Aasim, and Willy, who have been getting so close to joining the plethora of great characters the series is known for. Since I've mentioned it for the last three episodes, Omar only has a single line here as well, meaning even in the final episode he's only really a strange footnote in the season.
However, this was ultimately the right decision. This episode is the final one and absolutely needed to hyper-focus on the relationship between Clementine and AJ. This has been what the entire season has been about, and this is what everything has been leading to. To let it only be a minor part of the final episode would be a major disservice. Maybe the season could have used a fifth episode to give the side characters a little more time to shine. Even so, I think most of them managed to get enough to be enjoyable.
When it comes to gameplay, Take Us Back has more of a focus on unique combat segments than the last few episodes. One scene sees Clementine taking cover, having to pop out of it to shoot at approaching zombies and hiding to duck back into it to avoid being shot. Another plays like the usual fights showcased in the season so far but leaves Clementine without a weapon. Instead, you'll have to run past the zombies, avoiding them while reaching another section. There's more QTE-styled combat here than the previous episodes, which is a bit of a shame considering the good ideas the battle system seemed to be building on, but at least I enjoyed it.
Yet I'm not really sure the gameplay was ever the most important part of The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Even with all the improvements from past seasons. The truth is that the story impacted me, and I came away satisfied at the end of it. I loved finally getting the closure that it felt like Clementine really deserved. AJ was an absolutely fascinating character that I felt like I had a tangible impact on. It may not have been a perfect season, and it did stumble a few times. However, Take Us Back is the conclusion that it needed and it's a journey well worth following.
TechRaptor reviewed The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Episode 4: Take Us Back on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developers. The game is also available on PC via Epic Games Store, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Take Us Back wraps up Clementine and AJ's story in a satisfying way, developing both characters and making sure the conclusion is worth sticking around for. Getting to finally put Clementine's story to rest is a doozy.
- Clementine and AJ are Fantastic Characters
- Satisfying Ending for the Series
- Some Fun Gameplay Moments
- Side Characters are Mostly MIA
- More QTEs than Past Episodes