Clem and AJ face the consequences in Suffer the Children.
Please note that since each episode of The Walking Dead — The Final Season features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final three episodes. To read our complete thoughts on that, refer to our review of Episode 1, Done Running.
The first episode of The Walking Dead‘s final season was a significant return to form, something that showcased the power of that franchise’s narrative potential while also pushing the tech forward with a new engine. Of course, TellTale shut its doors shortly thereafter, and the second episode was taken offline for a bit.
However, with series creator Robert Kirkman and his company Skybound taking over to take the series to the finish line, the second episode, Suffer the Children, can be played without any worry of having it end without the story finishing.
That’s a good thing, for a few reasons. First off, the initial episode left on a cliffhanger with AJ shooting Marlon in the head. Second, the series has a chance to further explore the growing dynamic of Clementine as a leader and mentor. Third, the episode itself gets to change the pace both technically and narratively, allowing for variation that’s new to the series.
From a story perspective, there are two big issues here — the fallout from AJ’s mistake (both between him and Clem, and the pair within the larger group) and the lurking surrounding raider clan that Marlon traded group members to. These storylines fuel each other, pushing beats forward as they swap the spotlight.
It’s best to remain spoiler free, but it’s safe to say that TellTale included a bit of fan service in two major story moments that throttle the episode to its conclusion. But at the same time, the episode gives a little bit of breathing room and even has one segment that veers into Life is Strange territory. It all balances well and sets up the direction for the upcoming penultimate episode.
From a technical perspective, this is the most action-based a TellTale game has been. In several sequences, you’re attacked by hordes of zombies. To fight them off, you’re given a few different options including a new bow and arrow. They move in real time, so your method of attack and defense matters, and this is the closest that the series has veered into something akin to an action game.
It all comes together well with a final moment loaded with a critical choice. The industry should thank Skybound for picking up the project because the episode shows that this new hardened Clementine is ready for battle — and the stakes are high as we head into Episode 3.
The strong work found in the first episode of the series carries over in Suffer the Children, and if TellTale had to go out, this series is shaping up to be quite the high note.