The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Spoiler Free Review
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has just seen it’s last episode release, how does it stack up now the third season has come to a close?
Back in April 2014 the relatively small California based game developer Telltale Games released the first episode of their now critically acclaimed The Walking Dead video game series. A breathe of fresh air in the gaming space The Walking Dead tugged at a thread that hadn’t been pulled for a few years, where narrative was placed before traditional gameplay. The game could even be described as revitalising the point and click adventure genre which hadn’t yet completely worked out how to move with modern gaming.
Fast forward to May 2017 and Telltale Games have just released the final episode of the third series of The Walking Dead. Continuing on the trend of the previous two seasons, The Walking Dead: The New Frontier gives us a different playable character, this time in the form of a completely new character Javier Garcia.
Episode 1 picks up with Javier and his brothers family travelling and surviving on the road a few years since the outbreak, the arc of the series follows this family through a twisting and turning series of obstacles and moral grey areas. The larger arc of the wider Telltale’s Walking Dead series narrative is also pushed on, with last season’s playable character Clementine featuring as a main character throughout the season, and is partially playable in the forms of flashbacks that tie up the narrative knots between season 2 & season 3.
Narratively The Walking Dead: A New Frontier still delivers on well written dialogue, and a strong cast of three dimensional characters that are all voice acted superbly. Javier is a great character that has a well fleshed out back story, having a bit of humour and more lighthearted nature really makes him distinctive from the other characters, it gives a bit more room in dialogue options to have a bit of fun.
The moral decisions that Telltale like to throw your way are more blurry grey than ever, most choices throughout earlier entries i’ve been able to make the decisions relatively quickly, however I found season 3 really had some difficult choices and not a single time did I feel like I was being shoehorned into the traditional Good Option/Bad Option decisions, like did anybody in Season 2 not try and save a baby in the middle of a gunfight?
Without going to in-depth I did find the ending of Season 3 a little lacklustre, not to say that the episode wasn’t fun to play and didn’t tie up loose ends, it’s just didn’t really hit the emotional heights that Season 1 & 2 managed to finish on. For me I tried my best not to let it leave a sour taste in my mouth, I had tissues at the ready when I sat to play it but my eyes remained remarkably dry as the season came to an end, whereas previously the finales managed to make me well up as much as I tried not to let them. I really am conflicted because I’m not sure I can criticise a game for not upsetting me, I can say however there was no big emotional payoff from the story I experienced.
The main complaint levelled at Telltales Games is around the sometimes poor performance their games seems to suffer from, with frames freezing, choices not loading correctly and a few other non game breaking issues seemingly repeating themselves with each release. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is built on a newer engine and from a performance point of view it’s made a difference, during my playthrough on Xbox One I found none of these older issues hindering my experience and they look from what I saw to have pretty much resolved them.
The soundtrack and presentation remains consistent with the previous games, although looking slightly more polished and refined, the game won’t be winning awards for the top notch high fidelity graphics, but it’s presented well and has it’s own style that separates it from the other Telltale games.
For me, if I was to stack up season versus season, although all the elements seem to be in the right place for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier but it doesn’t seem to hit the heights of the previous 2 seasons. My emotional investment in the new group wasn’t as high as it was with the groups we’d been introduced to in earlier seasons. I wanted a more Clementine centric story as i’ve already spent 2 seasons with her and already have the emotional investment in place. This isn’t to say that I think Telltale made the wrong decision moving to a new character, it’s just they hadn’t managed to build the same resonance that they’d managed to build through the previous 2 seasons.
What are your thoughts on Season 3? Did you enjoy it more or less than the previous seasons?
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Spoiler Free Review
Story - 9/10
Characters - 8/10
Graphics - 7.5/10
Soundtrack - 8/10
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is still a very good game exceeding the previous 2 seasons with well scripted interactive scenes and the complex decisions it lays down at your feet. However fails to reach the emotional heights that really made me fall in love with the series.
Rob Beckett28 Posts
Volunteer writer, poor mans excuse for a grown up, and certified panther rider... I'm told I have far too many consoles that i'm convinced come to life and have endless series comedy capers when the house is empty. Sort of like Toy Story, but really poorly written and every character is voiced by Jai Courtney... a bit like that...