The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episode 1 & 2
No Zombie Lee :-(
  • Release Date
    12.20.2016
  • Publisher
    Telltale Games
  • Developer
    Telltale Games
  • Time Played
    5 hrs
  • Xbox One
  • Playstation 4
  • Windows
Release Date
12.20.2016

Publisher
Telltale Games

Developer
Telltale Games

Time Played
?
5 hrs
The total time played before writing this review.

  • Xbox One
  • Playstation 4
  • Windows
So first things first. Why am I reviewing two episodes at once? Well, because they were both released at the same time and it was made clear by Telltale Games back at The Game Awards that both of these episodes were intended to function as a single episode, but were too long to be released as one episode. That is immediately apparent as both episodes feel like they are part of a single story arc within the new season. How does this two episode debut hold up though?
THE GOOD
As we can pretty much expect from Telltale Games at this point, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has a very well crafted narrative. The game is set four years after the start of the series and tells the story of Javier or Javi, a man who has lost his family and is desperately trying to find them. During his travels, he encounters Clementine, the protagonist of Season 2, and they embark on a journey together where every choice, supposedly, has its consequences. As a small aside, I want to show my appreciation to Telltale for having a Clementine backstory creator, sort of like Dragon Age Keep, where you can set what Clementine did in the first two games so you don’t have to play both games again. Such a move is fantastic for newcomers and platform switchers alike.

What I really love about this two parter is the dynamic that is present between Javi and his family. You really get the sense that these people have been through some tough times together and have somehow managed to survive without turning into the not-so-nice groups of people that roam the land of the dead. Javi himself is a similar character type to Lee from Season 1, flawed but still a good man (if you choose to play him that way). Also, make no mistake, the game may advertise you playing as both Javi and Clementine, but the majority of these first two episodes is spent controlling Javi.

That is not a bad thing, however. The scenes where you do get to control Clementine act as sort of an “Arrow flashback sequence” where you are transported back in time to see what has happened to Clementine since making whatever decision you made at the end of Season 2. It’s a really cool way to catch the player up on what’s been going on with Clementine instead of just dumping her backstory on us through dialog.

Puzzles and quicktime event sections make their return once again, but Telltale has really seemed to nail down how to use these well. Puzzle solutions don’t feel as random as they did in previous entries. The answers are, typically, something you would think of while in that situation yourself and that is the best way to do these puzzles. Quicktime events have also become much more fun. Instead of cramming a crapload of button mashing sections like previous games, A New Frontier opts for more shooting sections with quick button presses for melee combat. These changes to combat really help make these sections genuinely fun to play.

Lastly, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier looks noticeably better, graphically, than its predecessors. Not only do character models look much more detailed and environments have better textures and effects but the game’s camera is also hugely improved. Not saying that camera in the original two mainline games was bad, but this time around, the camera almost feels like its framing an actual episode of The Walking Dead TV series. Coupling the improved camera work with the improved character models and environments makes The Walking Dead: A New Frontier a much more cinematic experience.

THE BAD
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1 AND 2

This may seem like an old argument for some but, given that this is my first Telltale Walking Dead review, I’m bringing it up here. The choices you make in these games are largely inconsequential. To illustrate my point, I have to spoil Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1 and some parts of Season 2. If you’re not cool with that….I honestly don’t know why you’re reading a review for the third installment but now is your chance to leave.

No matter what you do in Season 1, your group ends up Savannah, Georgia where Lee gets bitten and he dies. Ben dies no matter what. Kenny is left to an uncertain fate (only to show up alive in Season 2) no matter what. Clementine ends up with Christa and Omid regardless of what Lee tells her to do before he dies. The only real choice you are given in Season 1 is whether or not you want to leave Lee to turn into a walker or shoot him. That’s not narrative choice, that’s picking your poison. Season 2 largely ends up doing the same thing albeit you get a real choice as to where to take Clementine at the end of episode 5.

No spoilers here for New Frontier, of course, but I made sure to play through episodes 1 and 2 twice, having a different Clementine backstory and having Javi make different decisions for both. Once again, I felt Telltale’s “illusion of choice” system. Sure, certain decisions took me down a different path, but that path led to the same destination. Granted, these choices in A New Frontier could end up changing the narrative drastically down the road, but these first two episodes don’t instill much optimism for that.

THE TAKEAWAY
Despite the game displaying Telltale’s “illusion of choice” system once again, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episodes 1 and 2 are simply a fantastic ride from start to finish. The story is great and sets up a very interesting premise for Episode 3, the improved character models, textures, and camera work make you feel like you’re watching an episode of the TV series, and the sometimes frustrating combat mechanics from the previous games have been fine tuned and make combat much more fun.
This is a strong start to a very promising new chapter in The Walking Dead.
FOLLOW US