The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Episode 3: Broken Toys (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 22.03.2019

Review for The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Episode 3: Broken Toys on Nintendo Switch

It finally happened. The woes of Telltale Games and their announcement that the final season of their take on the Walking Dead franchise would never be completed, certainly shook the world of gaming. Season 1 is renowned for its quality and received many awards the world over, elevating the status of the studio, and making Clementine, this final season's protagonist, into one of the world's most beloved videogame heroines. Not being allowed to see the ending would have been heartbreaking indeed, despite the series' loss in popularity starting with Season 3's weakened focus on Clementine. She remains everyone's darling, and thanks to Skybound Games picking up the slack with part of the old team brought back on board to finish the project, Episode 3 and 4 are on the way to all major platforms, including the Nintendo Switch! It is time then to pick up where the story was left back in September 2018, and see where this is going.

The story picks right where it ended as always, right in the aftermath of a strong and impactful ending to the events of Episode 2. Naturally, again, as always, it is tough to talk about the main focus of these games, which is the story development, without spoiling anything since discovering it is what the whole goal of the experience. It is however safe to say that the build-up towards the upcoming finale is felt really strongly here. A returning character from previous seasons, mentioned in the Episode 2 review, takes an even more prominent spot in the limelight here, and suffice to say that this person will put Clementine in tough spots, forcing thoroughly hard calls that work extremely well in inducing a strong sense of tension.

It feels, if anything, more thriller than horror, like in Episode 3! There could have been some concerns that with the development struggles due to the closure of Telltale Games' studio and the shift over to a whole new studio picking up the pieces left, that this third episode, under new direction but still being worked on by about 40 former Telltale employees who go by the hashtag #StillNotBitten could have suffered for it but that is absolutely not the case at all. Granted, the story was all but completed already when the closure happened, and even most of the recording of all dialogue for the main characters was already done way back in September for episodes 3 and 4, therefore the story likely wouldn't change from the initial vision at this point anyway.

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Episode 3: Broken Toys on Nintendo Switch

It is a truly gripping experience that has a stronger than ever focus on making hard choices where there isn't really a right or wrong choice... and the game makes it almost immediately clear what are the bad consequence to whatever choice was made. It's possibly the tensest episode, bar some more quiet moments at the beginning, and it all culminates in a strong cliffhanger that makes it practically impossible to tell how the final episode of this final season will play out. It is already known that this should be the last we'll see of Clementine that much isn't a secret. But this episode ends in such a way that it leaves much anticipation but no strong hint of where things will go for the big finale, which is probably the best way they could go.

Furthermore, the item collecting that was very present in Episode 1, and more paired back in Episode 2, returns strongly here, which adds incentive for replayability. This is always nice of course and adds more bonding with AJ about things that used to make sense in the real world which he never got to know. All of this naturally holds true of any version of this episode, but what about what makes this Switch version stand out? Well, load times remain long to say the least, though maybe a few seconds shorter than the perceived length of previous episodes, but this is highly subjective and maybe tied to how big the visited areas are to load here, as opposed to some actual optimisation work on the team's part.

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Episode 3: Broken Toys on Nintendo Switch

The last aspect to address was already a point of contention when reviewing the previous episode, and it has to do with visual performance in docked mode. As a reminder, when the first episode was released back in August 2018, the Switch version ran at 1080p docked, with an unlocked frame-rate that rarely exceeded 30fps, but which in some rare cases could shoot up to 60. In that review, it was strongly suggested that a frame-rate cap of 30 be added to make the overall experience more consistent, but the 1080p presentation was greatly appreciated for how sharp the picture looked. Additionally, the lower frame-rate compared to other versions was appreciated for the more movie-like cinematic feel it actually achieved.

When the switch version was updated for the release of the second episode, however, the gorgeous 1080p docked mode was replaced in favour of a 720p appearance that made the whole picture looked more muddy and blurry by comparison while performance still practically never reached 60fps anyway so the shift was questionable to say the least. Everything that was said back then for episode 2 still applies here for episode 3. If the development team, be it the old one or the new one since development duties were shifted over to Skybound Games, really wants a higher performance, despite the fact that it arguably doesn't do anything good for the experience, even knowing that it won't match other versions that way... why not include an option for better visuals at the expense of the frame-rate then?

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Episode 3: Broken Toys on Nintendo Switch

Hopefully the message gets across to them that it would be in the best interest of the experience, since the artwork is so gorgeous and that doesn't show quite as much in 720p when upscaled to higher resolution panels in docked mode. As with the second episode, however, since handheld mode runs at 720p anyway with a lower, more cinematic frame-rate, there are no complaints there at all and this is the best way to experience it on Switch. That mode has little to no visible aliasing at all. Still, the Switch is both a home and portable system, for better or for worse, so getting that visual upgrade in docked mode is really indispensable.

It worked with the first episode, so it can't be overstated that either a shift back to the settings of the initial release or at the very least an option to revert it back for docked mode, are highly requested as a top priority change for the release of the final episode. The final episode is set to release on March 26th 2019 worldwide, and all console versions will receive a physical release, the latter in North America at the very least. Here's hoping Skybound Games does not forget about their previously announced plans to still release the previous two seasons on Switch too, as was originally planned by Telltale and, possibly, make the first three seasons available physically to all Switch owners as well!

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Episode 3: Broken Toys on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

With an ever stronger emphasis on hard decisions to make that will affect how Alvin Junior turns out in the end, and a strong presence of an old returning character from previous seasons, this episode ramps things up to an exploding cliffhanger that leaves what comes next completely in the dark. This makes this possibly the most gripping episode of the final season (so far), and makes the wait for March 26th even harder. However, this update to the Switch version sadly sticks to the forced shift to a 720p resolution in docked mode introduced at the release of the second episode back in September 2018. An option to manually select 1080p over 720p for a stronger cinematic impact in docked mode over performance is still very much hoped for. Handheld mode is still as slick looking as ever though.

Developer

Skybound Games

Publisher

Skybound Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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