Take Us Back marks the final episode in Telltale’s long running The Walking Dead series and the conclusion to Clementine’s story. Equally tense and touching, this climax to the seven-year series is the perfect send off for Telltale’s definitive series.
Picking up directly from Broken Toys’ suspenseful ending, Take Us Back maintains that momentum as Clem and co retreat from the encroaching horde. This episode, more than any other, focuses in on the relationship between Clem and AJ, and how your choices shape his actions. Doubts of whether I was carving the best path for AJ have plagued me this entire season, and in this episode I found myself questioning it at every turn. Following last episode’s boat showdown, a key decision soon caught up with me, provoking an emotionally intense confrontation and the stock I had taken in my action was once again shaken.
The impact of Telltale’s choose-your-own-adventure storytelling is relative to the player’s investment in its characters. As such, some of the studio’s more short-lived series have suffered from a shallow relationship between player and text. However, TWD capitalizes on its history, with each choice and line of dialogue in this final episode holding the heft of those that have come before it. While long-standing flaws in terms of presentation and gameplay persist to the bitter end, the quality of TWD’s storytelling and the intensity of the connection I feel to its characters make these shortcomings superfluous.
The guidance I had bestowed on AJ up to now seemed to have led him astray, and with the end of our journey in sight, I sought to reconcile our bond and gain some control over his spiraling behaviour. This lack of trust had shaken his confidence, causing him to hesitate at a crucial moment, resulting in the death of characters I had grown fond of. The repercussions of my doubts had manifested and guilt racked me.
Moments like this are what this series executes so well. The complex relationships your choices cultivate are fraught with nuance and no path is ever clear cut in its direction or outcomes. Consequentially, while your agency always feels perpetually at conflict with the harshness of this world, each successes and failure feels earned by your own doing.
Take Us Back continues this final season’s penchant for the cinematic. While this episode’s opening action set piece embraces a typical melodramatic cinematic style, its in the structuring of its more intimate scenes and its affective delivery of drama that Take Us Back excels in applying its directorial eye. Twists left me flawed and flashbacks seemed to probe a very personal history, all heightened my strong writing, powerful performances and this keen eye for the cinematic.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead has captivated me like no other zombie fiction. Its consistent focus on ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances has remained integral to its authenticity and relatability. Clem is an exceptionally well written character, perfectly balancing her own personality with the voice of the player that she channels. The Final Season easily equals, if not outdoes, the beloved first season and Take Us Back provides both the perfect ending for the definitive chose-your-own-adventure game and an apt swan song for its pioneering studio.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
Take Us Back delivers its equally tense and touching conclusion with cinematic style, and provides the perfect send off for both Clem and Telltale’s definitive series.
- Excellent ending to Telltale’s best series
- Strong writing, performances and cinematic style
- Satisfying pay off for long-term fans
- Same old presentation and gameplay shortcomings persist
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Max is a lover of games, fine whisky and dogs with soft faces. Often seeking out games Chris dubs “artsy sh*t”, some say Max has a refined taste, while others simply consider him pretentious. Wherever you stand on the matter, he undeniably writes words. His other hobbies including leading a cult, touching dog’s faces and telling everyone he is vegan.