From Telltale Games and based on the acclaimed Image Comics series The Walking Dead from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard comes the third season of the episodic franchise ‘The Walking Dead: A New Frontier’. This is my review of episode 5 and the series overall – available now on Xbox One, PS4, Windows, Android and iOS.
A new family, new survivors, new locations, more drama, more horrific choices – all that and more are in the third season of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead franchise subtitled ‘A New Frontier’. Oldschool fans may be pissed that you will NOT be playing as Clementine for much of this latest season (don’t fret – you will be playing as her in flashback sequences), but Javier is a really solid new main character with a lot of depth and backstory which was wonderful to dive into amidst the zombie apocalypse.
Some time has passed since season 2 of TWD – Clementine has suffered more tragedy (which you will soon discover during her brutal flashback scenes) and Javier is on the road with his brother’s wife and her two children. The core of ‘A New Frontier’ deals with Javier and his troubled relationship with his brother (minor spoiler alert – you will meet up with him in a stunning turn of events). Every episode (5 in total) begin with these brilliant flashbacks focusing on Javier and his family (sometimes pre-zombie outbreak or right after). These quiet little moments really amp up the drama and make the decisions of the present feel like they carry even more emotional weight. I hope to see that element continue, because even though those moments aren’t action-packed, TWD from Telltale Games isn’t a title built for that type of game. This is all about dialog choices and being part of an interactive movie/mini-series.
The quicktime events aren’t as frightening or frustrating as they used to be, because you’ll wind up just smashing whatever button pops up on the screen as opposed to moving, aiming and then hitting the respective button to kill a walker. This change in style may have taken away from some of the intensity of the game, but this was never a title that was made for that style anyway and we really should be approaching Telltale Games’ ‘A New Frontier’ as a test in emotional choices and man oh man – do they ever matter… Even the littlest dialog choice could have massive ramifications later on, possibly resulting in someone’s death. So choose your responses well, pay attention and adapt to the room so that your group is in the best shape possible when the shit hits the fan.
Aside from the love triangle between Javier, his bro and his bro’s wife — the bigger picture this season involves Clementine joining Javier’s group to help kick ass as a new larger community threatens to dismantle everything… Don’t worry TWD fans – this isn’t Negan’s crew – this is something else entirely and the way you approach this larger group is very important. Hell – maybe YOU are the villain in this story? You can certainly play it that way… Fans of the comic will love the inclusion of Jesus and his parts are quite fantastic. I’m pretty that the final episode includes some dialog choices where you can actually flirt back with the bearded zombie head kicking warrior and I thought that was amazing.
My favourite part of this season was actually the grossest and it’s when you as Javier have the option to go Negan on some dude’s head with a baseball bat… Now this guy – he does something horrible to your group – so how far do you want to take it? Well – I took it to mush – that asshole’s head was soup and I felt dirty, disgusting, vile as shit but most importantly – satisfied…. I’m a horrible person apparently, but that moment early on in the season was definitely a highlight for me.
The final chapter ‘From The Gallows’ starts off with a bang – literally – after an explosion and flood of walkers that begin tearing into the town, you’re left trying to find your core group and make sure they aren’t dead or UNDEAD. There’s a lot of action in this chapter – including a tractor mowing down zombies which makes for a lot of fun. There’s also a deeply depressing moment where I had to shoot someone in the face – and that someone was not someone I wanted to shoot in the face. Not at all. Telltale Games has been breaking hearts and traumatising Walking Dead fans for years and ‘A New Frontier’ is no different. I will say that for such a brutal chapter – the conclusion was probably one of the most positive moments I’ve ever seen in The Walking Dead (and that includes the comic/TV show). So maybe there is hope for Clementine someday…
Although this wasn’t her game, not really anyway, she’s still my hero and I know she’s all of the Telltale games fans’ favourite character too, so let’s get back to her full-time down the road… I liked Javier, but I love Clementine and I feel like I’ve helped raise this little kid over three seasons of brutal decisions and zombie chomping chaos. As great as ‘A New Frontier’ is, and this is compelling, brilliantly written stuff, it still felt like a one and done type of season, possibly stalling Clementine’s main story a little. Give me more Clem and I’ll be a happier TWD gamer – but for now, enjoy the hell out of this folks. Javier’s story needed to be told and I’m happy I was there to help tell it.