Game Review: The Walking Dead DE: Season 4 – PS4

Title The Walking Dead: Season 4 (via Definitive Edition all-in-one disc)
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre:zombies, telltale, story driven, adventure, point and click
Date completed:September 2021
Information on game

Summary review: A final “goodbye and thanks for all the zombies” fan service season. If you’re a fan of the the prior seasons you will love this one I think. And it’s not a random unrelated character like season three.
Graphics: A significant improvement over season 3 I think. It’s much closer to the art style of the actual comic book. The font is closer to that too of the comic as well.
Music: They went a different direction with this music: different styles and a main sound track featuring vocals.
Controls: I think they’re superior to that season 3. Incrementally improved as the engine as a whole has been. I don’t have the auto-play complaints I had for season 3 but then that was probably a conscious design decision for season 3.
Replayability: I think I would be probably put it at the same level as season 2: not a wide scale story arc or anything but still some very realistic and memorable characters I would like to interact with again.
Total score: 90 / 100 – This was one of TellTales last games (if not the last) and it definitely shows how much they grew as a company. Just enough interaction, just enough character moments, and just enough of a variation in the story it feels like maybe I want to explore other branches.

Introduction

Reviews for the rest of the seasons:

  1. Game Review: The Walking Dead DE: Season 1 + 400 days – PS4
  2. Game Review: The Walking Dead DE: Season 2 – PS4
  3. Game Review: The Walking Dead DE: Season 3 – PS4

Note: This review will not contain spoilers for the story of season 4, just some commentary on the story without going into details and some information on the play mechanics. If anything I should mention at least as much as the synopsis.

I have already made posts reviewing the prior seasons of TellTale’s The Walking Dead. Since it’s a little hard to talk about the final season of a 4 season story arc without spoilers of the first three, I have no choice but to talk a lot about all the prior season. So spoilers for the first three season of The Walking Dead. Not sure why you’d reason this review having not played the prior seasons and also caring about spoilers. Stranger things have happened. So you know. Warning.

Feels like I should mention in case anybody missed it: the developer of this series, TellTale, actually went completely bankrupt and closed its doors quite abruptly part way through the development of this last season. Then Skybound, the company of the one or more people responsible for the comic, did whatever legal shenanigans were necessary to get the game back into production and publish it under their own branding. That might explain the four episodes versus the normal five.

A little different review format this time

(Below written prior to starting episode 1)


I decided to do this final season review in a little bit different format: I’ll jot down my thoughts at the end of each individual episode. I’m just trying to give the experience the full attention it deserves, kind of savoring it if it you will.

Perhaps I should try and summarize some of my choices from the first 3 season. Well just a limited selection.

Lilly stole the RV, Clem did not eat human flesh, I didn’t kill the guys at the farm, I let the lady at the motel shoot herself, I pulled ben up, Lee told Clem to avoid cities, I chose Jane over Kenny…at the end of season 3 my Clem was “strong through unity” and let Javi cut her hair short while the song I call “Ode to Lee” played in the background. This is just to give you an idea what kind of Clem I have going into the final season.

Episode 1: Done Running

Episode 1 started out a little differently: after the standard prompt to import a save game, it went through this little prologue. I mean it said successfully imported save game, then it went through this little summary of the game so far but it let me re-confirm my major plot choices over the course the game and change them if I wanted to. Saving Kenny versus Jane for instance could be re-written. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I just went through three seasons making choices I felt like I had to commit to right then and there and now I can change the story so far no problem? I guess that’s good? One note I’ll mention though, only one minor detail from season 3 is mentioned in the little summary/prologue. It’s like it never even happened or something.

As for the episode itself I actually liked it quite a lot. The engine has made incremental improvements from season 3 and the dialogue and character development is noticeably better. Inside of the first ten minutes I thought to myself see? this is what I wanted season 3 to be. No time jumps or flashbacks so far. That’s turning into a pet peeve of mine, isn’t it? In this I instance probably wouldn’t mind. I kind of want to know how Clementine got AJ back and how she was leading up to to this episode.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say – since it’s the “box art” of the season 4 – Clementine is with AJ and he’s about 5 or 6 maybe. I think that would make the time jump from season 3 to 4 around 4 years or so. Which I guess puts Clementine at 17 maybe?

I noticed a couple of new mechanics, such as collectibles to find and room to decorate with said collectibles. I only got two. I got two collectibles. The ones literally handed to me.

It’s quite a punchy cut to black/roll credits moment, too. I can’t believe I have only 3 episodes left. I just don’t want it to end.

Episode 2: Suffer The Children

I’m trying to be as ambiguous as humanly possible with the story and plotline of season four so any players can go into it as blind as I did. The story takes a logical and probably predictable turn in a particular direction.

There a couple of new mechanics such as a connecting stars in a made up constellation (this is a branch between two characters so you may not see this one). The hit-the-knee-stab-the-head technique is still here, learned from Jane, and continued in season 3.

There a few instances of simultaneous button prompts, which I think is nice. Actually that “action diamond” – is that what it’s called? – from earlier seasons is gone, replaced with what I think is a better button prompt system. It just tells you to push X to look a at a thing, for instance. Oh, and apparently someone told TellTale that gamepads have rumble packs. Wow, welcome to 2005 TellTale, congratulations.

There are a couple of instances the prompt was something like “groups of walkers can be dangerous, use O use break them up”. I am still not sure what that actually means. There’s different combinations of the two step knee/head stab versus one strong stab to the head. I think I just have to know the right combination of when to do the two step versus the one stab. Because circle doesn’t seem to do anything. Or I’m missing something. [edit: figured it out – it was suggesting using the O to hit their knew to slow them down briefly and use the extra time to take care of other walkers]

I will say AJ is starting to grow on me. I think he’s showing some traits of both his mother and his father and he’s really good at taking prompts from Clementine.

Just as a quick aside here at the half way mark: the characters are all really convincing and easy to get attached to. And I love how well the conversations work. I mean they’re just really believable.

There is something of revelation in this episode. Well sort of two, actually. I won’t say what they are to keep it a surprise. Something to look forward to.

Episode 3: Broken Toys

I didn’t time the first episodes but this one took me about two hours to complete. I think that’s because I had to re-do some sections a bunch of times because I couldn’t figure how to make it through the scenario. There’s this thing with invisible walls ya see and…anyway.

It wasn’t a bad episode but despite my now being two-thirds of the way through it feels like I’m still at the beginning for some reason.

At this point I can’t help but feel there’s a much more direct tie-in with the comic book story arc. Much further past where I read to in the comic series (up to the Whisperers).

I once again failed to find much of any collectibles. I guess there’s a lot more stuff I can pick up than I assume.

There is one super great sequence in this episode. I for one really liked it. A familiar face that makes the prior seasons worth while.

There are also further in-passing mentions of the events between seasons 3 and 4 and associated traumas. No flashbacks or anything, just a nightmare sequence and the place has a name.

I’ve been sort getting a vibe of which direction the story is going to go at the end and I think that might be coloring my decisions in certain circumstances. Hopefully I still made the right call though. Hopefully I’m wrong about my prediction.

Episode 4: Take Us Back

Okay, gotta be honest: not sure how I feel about this last episode.

I mean I could tell from the first three episodes that it wasn’t going to be some kind of super spectacular explosions-ridden Michael Bay thing but I hoped for something memorable at the very least.

It sort of felt like they were mid-story and decided to wrap it up so the long term players felt they got something resembling a satisfying ending.

The story of the episode isn’t terrible. They kind hit the fast forward on the “make sure and teach AJ right” bit. I don’t know how long it’s supposed to be between the opening of the episode one of this season and the end of the last episode. I think only about a month or so. Hard to believe there could be that much character growth.

There was mention of Richmond from season 3, actually. No thoughts on going back to it or anything. Just mention of it.

The episode does tie up the story of the mysterious “ranch” the season had been teasing all the way through. Well maybe not “tie up”. It’s flash back of clementine finding the ranch already burning down, people in the middle of a battle and Clementine taking AJ. Which I already gathered. But…alright? It’s actually pretty spectacular to see. It just doesn’t really add that much.

There’s a good farewell send off with credits of game creators sprayed on some walls in the final scene and a sincere “thanks for playing” message.

There’s actually a somewhat emotionally manipulative thing at the end, I’m unclear what it was necessary. Would have been fine without it.

Wait…there’s a second xbox now?

I already mentioned it but this game uses the PS4 gamepad rumble pack feature. It’s been kind of a thing to add immersion to games for a really, really long time. But as mentioned in prior reviews these were always made for PC/mouse first, it seemed like. Maybe they just finally decided it was worth the time to make the gamepad rumble when something is going to explode. I don’t know.

I will mention it seemed like there was lag sometimes between the time I pushed buttons and time the next scene loaded so it didn’t register my button press. Or I’m just not good at button prompts.

The season over all

To put all the episodes together I think it did everything it set out to do: turn Clementine into her own version of Lee with AJ in the roll of young clementine. There are differences, of course: Clem is much younger than Lee was and grew up in a much different time. And taught Clem lessons in a different time too.

This feels like something of a “okay one last season” that some TV shows have in the past 10 years. Like a show that normally got 20+ episodes a season coming back to do a quick 8 or 12 episodes just as a send off ending. But that I just mean they kind of crammed what probably should have been 5 or 6 episodes of content into only 4 as best they could and that was that. Not necessarily anyting profound, large scale or especially reveling about the TWD universe just a fond farewell.

Perhaps I’ll share what I thought might be the ending: depending on the lessons taught AJ he would grew to be a specific kind of person. Like maybe a final “30 years later” flash forward with AJ giving a speech as either a cruel tyrant, a respected stateman or perhaps somewhere in between. There would be a big crowd or a small group of advisors and maybe a major decisions being made. And that speech or meeting would vary depending on how Clem taught him as a youth. This is not even close to how it ends. I just thought maybe there were hints that it might lean that way.

Now some negatives…

Other than the shortness (I want more!), the relative small scale of the story and some seeing lag in the buttons registering I don’t think I can really complain on this.

It did sort of negate some the turning points in the story of the first three seasons which is kind of disappointing. I can only assume the developers just ran out of time.

Conclusion

The story is a good one with a valid send off of the characters. If you made it through season 3 you deserve this valid send off from seasons 1 and 2. So if you’re on the fence about it I would say get through season 3 so you can experience the final season.


Metadata

Method of control used Regular PS4 gamepad
Controllable via both one analog stick or digital four-way (“HAT”) n/a
Hardware requirements: n/a
Supports 21:9 aspect ratio screens?n/a
Device(s) tried on PS4 (non-pro)
TV2020-era 55″ 4k TV with HDR specialness
Initial setup required Turned on subtitles
Sound setup5.1 surround system/receiver
Total time to completion~10 hours (the game and PS4 don’t track time elapsed so best guess)
difficulty level“Normal” difficulty, turned on some visual click points to be less frustrating.
Random assortment of meta data

One thought on “Game Review: The Walking Dead DE: Season 4 – PS4

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s