If there’s one element of consistency that Telltale’s The Walking Dead has managed to display across both of its first two seasons, it’s the strength of its finales. Thanks to a combination of emotional payoffs from the previously constructed relationships and the agonizing choices that form as a result of those payoffs, the concluding episode of both Season 1 and 2 have been among the best work that Telltale has put out in recent years. So, with the most recent season approaching its final chapter, fans have been eagerly waiting to find out if Telltale can achieve the hat trick and put out a third season finale that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its compatriots. Fortunately, “From the Gallows” does manage to reach those lofty heights, thanks to a surprisingly branching experience and a dedication to the rapports Javi has to the remaining cast.
While the remainder of the review will not address any spoilers for “From the Gallows”, important plot points from the previous episodes of the season will be discussed below. For more on the season so far, check out the reviews for “Ties That Bind: Parts 1 and 2,” “Above the Law” and “Thicker Than Water.”
After the final flashback of the season, “From the Gallows” starts immediately after the explosive concluding events of “Thicker Than Water”, thrusting players into the aftermath of their decisions during Javi and the gang’s confrontation with Joan. Afterwards, the episode slows to a more leisurely pace, allowing each character to fully demonstrate and finalize their arcs in regards to how Javi has interacted with them, which makes the second half of the chapter all the more stressful, as several key decisions shape the course of both this and any future seasons. For the most part, these emotional culminations all resonate strongly, with even the more predictable outcomes still managing to provoke a real-life reaction, positive or otherwise, thanks to a continuing focus on family and what we must do to uphold our bonds and commitments. Once again, Telltale’s commitment to a slow buildup rewards the loyal players that stick through to the final sequences.
Prior to “From the Gallows” being released, Telltale advertised it as the developer’s “most tailored episode to date,” which is a bold claim from a studio that prioritizes diverging choices above all else within the experience. From what our time with the review has been able to explore, it seems that there is indeed some unique paths that players can take depending on their journey thus far, with even smaller, somewhat unexpected actions leading to some surprising results.
This is bolstered by the fact that this episode repeats the gameplay stylings of “Above the Law”, abandoning the explorable areas for the sake of story progression, although its inclusion makes somewhat more sense for the finale considering the stakes at hand. As has been the case for the rest of the season, “From the Gallows” continues the traditions of excellent voice acting and minor technical issues, with the latter doing little to significantly impact the gameplay experience.
From the Gallows wraps up the season on a high note, with a truly customized chapter that forces players to make intense selections regarding the characters they have grown to love, hate or otherwise care about. Telltale has continued to prove that whatever faults may have arisen in the past can be easily set aside when the final consequences end up amounting to more than just life or death.