After a trailer and a gameplay preview of the finale for the episodic choose-your-own adventure RPG honed to perfection by Telltale’s take on The Walking Dead universe, we’re finally finding out a little more about what’s to come for series lead Clementine as she heads into her final chapter.
After half a decade and watching her grow up from a character the player needed to protect to become the very protector the player was controlling, Clementine made her mark as one of the most fully-formed characters in The Walking Dead, or even the zombie genre in general. She’s almost been around as long as Andrew Lincoln’s take on Rick Grimes (another franchise departure on the horizon). How the studio finishes her story will mean the world to fans who’ve come to expect grisly ends for even their favorite characters.
Speaking with Variety, lead writer James Windeler acknowledged the difficulty in wrapping up Clementine’s storyline. “We know that people are really invested, and it’s a real struggle for us, or it’s our ambition at least, to create a really satisfying, emotional, gut-wrenching climax to the story that remains true, [and] that stays true to the character that people have been with for years in our games,” Windeler said. Her role in the final season is as a teacher to AJ, the ward she’s taken on as the final step in her journey from protectee to guardian.
Adding callbacks to earlier seasons like this was intentional, from the general thematic resonance to specific gameplay choices in the missions themselves. Speaking about one mission where Clem can choose to have AJ mimic her actions from the first season, Windeler said that “[this homage is] by no means the only echo of Season 1.” Windeler confirmed that Season 4 will have returning characters, but wouldn’t go into detail on who was coming back — or if they played into the cyclical theme. He was focused more on Lee’s legacy.
“It feels like given how much Clem owed to Lee from the first season and to her mentor, and by that I mean his final lesson, his saying goodbye to her, he actually causes her to be independent,” Windeler said. “He’s the one who really sets her on the track to survive by herself over the course of the years."
"Given how much she owed to him, it just seemed natural that we would bring the story full circle and put her into the role of mentor so that she’s giving things back," Windeler continued. "And it’s just a very satisfying and seems like an inevitable and natural conclusion to her arc.” That said, whether Clem lives or dies at the end will, like always, almost certainly be up to the decisions made by the player.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season shambles onto PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on Aug. 14.