After filing for bankruptcy in early November last year, gamers across the world were left disappointed and saddened by the end of Telltale Games’ 14-year success with their much-adored episodic adventure games. This happened in the midst of the development and release of the final season of their most favoured franchise The Walking Dead, which has been running for the last six years. With Telltale having to drop the project two episodes in due to their liquidation, fans feared another abrupt end on the horizon, this time to the tale of Clementine as she attempts to survive in the hit zombie-infested wastes of the original Walking Dead comics, created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. This not only proved a shame considering the amount of work put into the previous four games (including DLC) and how much praise the franchise had received by the public and critics alike. But also because the first episode of the final season, ‘Done Running’ and the second, ‘Suffer the Children’, are some of the best storytelling and gameplay that Telltale ever managed.
However, later that same month, Skybound Entertainment – Robert Kirkman’s production company – announced after having taken on board many former Telltale developers that the series was to be started up again with the last two episodes to be completed in the early months of 2019 by the company. This means that whilst Telltale may be gone for good, The Walking Dead: Final Season remains in full-swing, run by some of the franchise’s original developers as well as developers under Kirkman, the writer who brought The Walking Dead into existence. It might be for this reason that the third episode, ‘Broken Toys’, has been one of the most intense and astounding interactive adventure games brought out this year.
The game itself may have a few glitches here and there – particularly in relation to syncing player choices and navigating menu screens – but these are minor in comparison to the narrative, gameplay and visual elements of the episode. Players enter ‘Broken Toys’ in a quite precarious situation after the end events of ‘Suffer the Children’, in which Clementine and her eight-year old protégé, AJ, found themselves in a seige-like battle during an attempt to defend themselves – and their new allies found at Ericson’s Boarding School for Troubled Youth – from long-lost villain of the series Lilly. After the fight, in which some characters fall to the hands of Lilly’s raiders through either kidnapping or slaughter, Clementine must now work with the few remaining children at the school and her mysterious new friend, James (a lone survivor from a Whisperer colony), to rescue her lost allies and take down her enemies for good. During this struggle she must also take good care of AJ – who is worryingly becoming corrupted by his growing violence – and perhaps find love with either the charming Louis or gentle Violet. Oh, and don’t forget the walkers!