Walking Dead Season 3 Should Ditch Clementine
Telltale Games confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con that they're going to make a third season of Walking Dead game. I'm hoping this season brings some big changes, like a new main character.
Clementine is a great lens for viewing the zombie apocalypse. She started the series as a near-blank slate. Her real-world experience was next to zero. When zombies started roaming the streets, she didn't have any skills or resources to fall back on. She just hid in her tree house.
Players have been deciding what kind of person she becomes, first by playing as her mentor Lee and then by playing as Clementine herself. Is she willing to sacrifice friends or commit crimes to ensure her own survival? Or will she treat others with compassion, exposing herself to possible betrayal? We've decided the course of her development.
It's tough not to feel attached to Clementine, after all we've gone through together. Voice actor Melissa Hutchison does such a fantastic job at conveying Clementine's competing emotions. She's timid and brave, innocent and suspicious, kind and confrontational. The series' success is thanks in part to how strong of a character she is.
That all being said: I think we need to leave her behind in Walking Dead Season 3.
The game's given her more than enough time in the spotlight. Clem has been in every episode at this point, the sole exception being the 400 Days DLC. Her character arc's all but complete at this point. She was a frightened kid huddled in a tree house and now she's a tough survivor capable of charting her own path through the apocalypse. The last episode of Season 2 will probably cement her status as either a cynical loner or caring friend. Once that happens, what else is there to tell about her personal story?
Clementine's young age makes her very distinct from other game protagonists but it's also a creative strait jacket. She can't have a love interest. No group's going to make her their leader. Barring a major time jump, her story potential's kind of low.
What strikes me about the game's first two seasons - and the Walking Dead franchise in general - is how limited the scope is. It depicts small groups of survivors shuffling around the southeastern United States. By now, we have a pretty good sense of how the zombie apocalypse has played out in the South. The cities are overrun with walkers, bandits and undead roam the wilderness looking for prey, and a few lucky souls have set up settlements of dubious safety.
We rarely see or hear anything about the rest of the world, though. What's going on in D.C. or Seattle or Texas? How are other countries handling the apocalypse? There are so many other stories worth telling about this apocalypse.
I don't expect the Walking Dead comics or TV show to make fresh starts. They're tethered to Rick Grimes and his group at this point. Those series will stay and end in the South. However, Telltale's game has a more fluid cast. Season Two's cast is almost entirely new. It would be easy for Telltale to change the hero, setting, or for Season 3.
What's set Walking Dead apart from other games is the developers' willingness to get rid of characters. Telling a gripping, emotional story is more important than giving us happy endings for the same characters over and over. Walking Dead is a better game because of that approach.
Clementine is the most memorable character Telltale has created but it's time to say goodbye. They can keep throwing walkers and bandits at her if they wish for five more season but her tale's complete. There are too many other stories out there waiting to be told.
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