Suffer the Children, the second episode of The Walking Dead’s final season could also be its last. It’s not the intended end of the season, but one has to at least consider how it leaves things off.
Note: The events in this game may differ from player to player based on their choices. This review is a reflection of my playthrough.
Continuing from the shocking events of the prior episode, episode two starts with Clementine and AJ being disliked and shunned. The large majority of this episode focuses on your attempts to reinstate yourself into the group and prepare them for an attack.
The biggest problems with this episode is how uneventful and predictable it is. The choices and events in this episode constantly felt both unimportant in the grander scheme of things and forced. I never once felt as though I was dictating the life of Clementine, but rather guiding her through a pre-determined path. This is a pretty big problem when the primary game mechanic is a choice based one.
There’s a point about a third of the way through this two hour episode where it was obvious and inevitable that Clementine was going to return to the commune. I wasn’t allowed to consider it, I wasn’t allowed to say no. Instead, I was presented with three options that seemed to have very similar results.
If you’ve ever played The Walking Dead, watched either of the TV shows or read the comic book series, there are moments, references and instances that’ll feel familiar and unoriginal in this episode. You have to cheer people up, convince them to side with you, engage in and settle tedious arguments, and it all feels too familiar.
This is an action-light episode too. There are only two major action sequences in it. One of which is an extended, fun sequence at the end that matches some of Telltale’s prior set pieces. This means that the majority of this episode has you taking to people. This would be great if the characters were likeable or the conversations were interesting. Sadly, they’re not.
Many of the characters this season feel underdeveloped and they serve a very specific purpose in the story. There’s a great game of truth or dare that helps provide more insight, but beyond that I had little reason to care about them. There’s also the problem of the side characters, some of whom never even speak in the entire episode and seemingly show up out of nowhere.
One of the highlights of this episode is the return of a character from the series’ past. I won’t spoil who it is, but their return is handled pretty well and it provides some good callbacks to past events and characters.
One of the best things about this season of The Walking Dead is its utilisation of a third person perspective. It worked really well in the first episode, increasing the immersion in exploration sections and adding a degree of agency in action sequences. In this episode though, these sections feel unnecessary and slow. There’s little reason to explore because there’s almost nothing to find or do. Traversal in larger environments also feels a little slow and sluggish too.
Suffer the Children is a disappointing episode of The Walking Dead. It’s especially disappointing if this is the final episode we ever get. This episode failed to make my choices feel important. If the conversations, characters and action sequences were interesting or exciting, it might make that okay, but they’re not. That being said, the episode does end well and I’m still eager to see if and how Clementine’s story concludes.