Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Available on: Mobile, PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Xbox 360. There may be differences between versions.
This is it. After months of hardships Clementine’s adventure is finally coming to an end. With one last trial ahead of them, does Clementine and her friends get a happy ending or does everything come crashing down?
Short answer: everything comes crashing down. I don’t mean that as in a bunch of bad things happened to Clementine and her friends either, though that certainly does happen. I mean that No Going Back managed to leave me ultimately disappointed in how the events played out. Originally I was pretty shocked and quite emotional at the twist ending. Yet the more time I had to think about it the more time I realized that it almost entirely required characters to go out of character to get to. Without spoiling anything, I can safely say my opinion of Jane has now been entirely tarnished by this.
But it’s not just the ending. One part of the episode has you crossing a frozen lake. You can promptly shut your eyes at this part and pretty much guess every single event that will follow. Even worse is when you’re forced to make a life-or-death decision on the lake and Bonnie’s entire opinion of you will depend on what you do there. Not a single other conversation or interaction with Bonnie will matter: either she loves you or hates you depending on that single decision. Also in a bit of a logic mess, if I hear the phrase “the bullet went clean through” again I’m going to ask what the hell is in these people. It already happened once this season, but I swear three people get shot in this episode and all three of them are “super lucky because the bullet went clean through.”
I don’t want to spend this time shitting all over No Going Back because there are some bright spots here and there. One particularly brilliant scene is just little more than all your characters sitting around a campfire and talking. It’s funny and does wonders to flesh them all out. Lord knows Mike came out as my Season 2 standout character, and this scene in particular contributed to it. Another moment has Clementine flashing back to some events in the first season and it manages to show up at the perfect time. It hits all the correct emotional notes, flips the script on its head by having you be Clementine in a Lee-Clementine conversation, and quite frankly it was nice to see Lee just one more time. Even if it’s just a flashback.
Naturally this will come with the same gameplay warning that all Telltale Walking Dead games come with: it’s rough when it comes to action. No Going Back is surprisingly very light on it, seeing little more than an opening shootout, and the final fight. They’re both still clunky and awkward, but at least it’s kept to a minimum so it can play up where the game’s strengths usually are: story and decision making.
I came away massively disappointed by No Going Back. While I never thought Season 2 was just as good as Season 1, I always felt it was still of pretty high quality. Yet by the end of No Going Back I found my enjoyment of the series gone and the few good scenes not helping it come back. It’s a shame that the final episode managed to drop the ball so badly after Season 2 was mostly doing okay for itself.