It’s a new year and we here at Oprainfall have a new series of articles for your enjoyment! Building Character aims to celebrate an important part of any game: the characters. In these articles, we’ll applaud the characters that are truly extraordinary in some way. Whether they’re good or bad, male or female, insanely powerful or meek, these characters are memorable in some way, and deserve recognition. To kick us off, we’re starting with someone almost impossible to dislike: Clementine from The Walking Dead.
Role: Main Character (not playable)
Appearances: The Walking Dead
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Steam (Mac and PC)
Those of you who have already played The Walking Dead game will know why an eight-year-old girl is worthy of getting the spotlight. Clementine may once have been a typical girl, but the world she’s thrown into pushes her to grow into her extraordinary potential. Throughout the game she sees more than any kid should. The player’s job, as Lee Everett, is partially to help prepare her to survive. As a kid, she’s still in the whole “the world is black and white, good and bad” phase of her life and the game forces Lee to show her the grey area. The journey is cold, bitter and will rip your heart to shreds no matter how tough you think you might be. But it is more than worth it.
The game starts out in the first days of infection. Lee discovers Clementine has been surviving on her own. Her parents were out of town when the infection hit and her babysitter became a walker. She saves Lee’s life from the get-go and he takes her under his wing as they continue on their journey, trying to find out what happened to their families and just trying to survive.
Clementine definitely strikes me as a strong female character despite not being… well, strong. Physically, anyway. She’s a sweet and capable girl, if a bit naive and it’s easy to become protective of her. It’s almost impossible not to. She can sway the player’s willingness to make some decisions simply by being within earshot, giving her the role of a moral compass. I know I’ve made certain decisions only because I knew she was watching. However, in the zombie apocalypse following the direction of an eight-year-old’s ethics may not be the smartest thing to do. She wields a lot more power than most most kids her age, and if you aren’t careful it can get you into trouble.
Throughout the game Clem proves her usefulness. Several times she’s able to help get Lee out of a tight spot just by being clever. Lee does his best to prepare her for the world, even teaching her to use a gun. She gets pretty good at practicing on empty bottles, but… she’s still a little girl. No matter what she’s seen or done, it’s difficult for her to pull the trigger on a person, whether they’re a walker or not. Life, however, doesn’t care that she’s a little girl, and neither do walkers.
Despite the harsh world she’s growing up in, Clem still hangs on to herself. She can still joke and act like a kid. At one point when Lee is investigating a broken flashlight, he asks Clementine if she broke it. “No!” she replies, “Did Duck say I did?” Duck being the only other child in the group at this point. Clem goes on to inform Lee that Duck likes to blame her for all sorts of things, as kids are wont to do. He even blames her for putting a bug on his pillow! “Well, did you?” Lee asks. Clem smiles impishly and pauses before confessing, “…Yes.” That scene, though short, really stood out to me because normalcy shines through it. Regardless of the state of the world, kids will still be kids. Putting bugs on pillows, and passing the blame for small offenses to stay out of trouble.
This is the part that contains some major spoilers, so those of you with weak constitutions may not want to read this next paragraph.
By the end of the game (Yeah, see? End of the game. Spoilers! Seriously, if you haven’t played you might not want to read this paragraph!) Clem is starting to understand that life’s not just black and white. Depending on the choices you make, she’ll bash a guy on the head for you, knowing it’ll allow you to kill him. A man, not a walker. She sees her parents as walkers, but is able to prioritize getting Lee to safety after he passes out from his bite. The entirety of the last scene really shows how far she’s come as she’s even able to kill Lee, if you ask it of her, a man she has come to love and admire. She at least partially understands the necessity of it. The short video at the end of the credits shows she even manages to make it out of Savannah and into the countryside alive. That same video also shows she still has a lot of growing up to do. The fear and indecision she displays in the last frame terrify me, because I have no way of knowing what’s next for her. Lee is gone, and I’m gone with him, leaving Clem all by herself. We did everything we could for her, but was it enough…?
End of spoilers, feel free to read on from here!
Clementine is capable, brave, smart, endearing, sweet, and understanding. She has a gentleness to her that belies her strength of character, and it’s sometimes hard to remember that what she thinks is best may not be best for her. If you haven’t played The Walking Dead game yet, then you’re truly missing out. Clementine is just one of many unique characters in a masterfully spun story of family, trust, betrayal, humanity and survival. Clem ties everything together, and really comes to life as you play. She’s an unforgettable character in an amazing game.
What about you? Those of you who have played the game, how do you feel about Clementine? Let us know in the comments below. Those of you who haven’t played the game yet… hop to it!