Telltale Games is back again with yet another chapter in the ongoing The Walking Dead saga, which combines elements of the original graphic novels along with aspects of the hit TV show. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is another shining example of Telltale’s ability to weave compelling storytelling with an interactive, visual novel type of experience. One intriguing aspect of A New Frontier is the options players have to either start fresh with a new save or to import previous saves from the other two seasons; importing alters some of the events of Season 3, especially when it comes to the behaviors of returning cast members!
Another Tale of Woe
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is essentially Season 3 of The Walking Dead video game series, and it provides players with a fresh glimpse into the compelling, tragic post-apocalyptic world that has become a household name. The challenge of this review is that I don’t want to include any spoilers – there’s plenty of surprising moments in Episodes 1 and 2, and I certainly want everyone to get to experience them as shocking and new. In a nutshell, A New Frontier begins by introducing us to Javier, our main protagonist, and his family. His brother, David, and his children and wife, Kate, are gathered at a family home where David and Javier’s father is expected to pass away soon.
As always with The Walking Dead, stuff happens, and things go south in a hurry – no surprise there!
Then, we skip ahead to find Javier in charge of his niece and nephew, traveling across the country in a van and trying to stay ahead of a Horde of Meurtos (Walkers, by another name). Kate is with him, and the two of them quickly must decide between moving on and scavenging for supplies. These decisions lead them to cross paths with Clementine, who fans of the series will recognize from Season One and Two of The Walking Dead, among other characters.
I love Telltale’s ability to weave grand storytelling with interactive gameplay, and I struggled with quite a few of the major decisions I countered during both parts of “Ties That Bind” (Episodes 1 and 2). Although numerous fans of the series have criticized A New Frontier as having less impact on the multiple choice decisions as the previous two games – all of which are tagged as "Choices Matter" on Steam – I certainly felt the weight of these options heavily, and I love how immersive that aspect is for The Walking Dead series.
TWD: A New Frontier, As a Continuation…
With Clementine on the character roster, and mention of other characters from previous The Walking Dead titles, A New Frontier is really a continuation of an ongoing saga that players have already experienced in prior releases. However, one of the biggest complaints that I encountered within the community is that Clementine’s behavior and demeanor isn’t as based on previous saved games as she could have been, and that those elements are ultimately rather irrelevant; as someone who played A New Frontier as a brand new audience member to The Walking Dead video game series, I experienced Clem as a new character with only a vague notion of her backstory. Keeping that in mind, I have to say that she felt like a fleshed-out personality, and I enjoyed the minor, brief flashbacks into her past. I certainly didn’t feel at all that I needed to have played the previous chapters to really understand, or appreciate, Clementine.
Those complaints are echoed in criticism of Javier, and many fans of the series have argued that they didn’t feel as attached to this protagonist as they have the stars of previous titles. Once again, my opinion is based exclusively on The Walking Dead: A New Frontier and I have to say that I found Javier to be interesting, and well worth rooting for. His decisions still carried a lot of weight with me, and especially after the opening scene I felt attached to his family and his plight. The fact that he made what must have been a huge decision to raise his niece and nephew as his own, even with their stepmother, Kate, at his side, made me think highly of him.
I absolutely recommend The New Frontier, not only for fans of The Walking Dead video games, graphic novels, and/or the TV show but anyone who enjoys Telltale’s method of interactive storytelling. The voice acting, graphics, and gameplay are as polished and precise as in other titles from this studio, and I loved seeing Javier’s story in the epic saga of The Walking Dead world. While my review is based on having no true hands-on experience with The Walking Dead Season One or Two, I’m a fan of the franchise elsewhere – both the comics and the TV show – so I felt qualified to dive into this latest Season and take a look around. And I definitely was not disappointed!
While both Episode 1 and 2 are rather brief – it took me less than two hours to complete each one, and I probably could have done it more quickly if I hadn’t been enjoying a slow, savoring pace – they are high-quality chapters. In fact, the brief length for each of the two currently available episodes is the primary reason that I haven’t scored The Walking Dead: A New Frontier higher, along with keeping in mind some of the complaints I’ve seen, overwhelmingly, from players with a background in the last two titles.
If you are a returning player and a fan of the video game series, keep in mind that Clementine is a secondary character, which is quite a step back from Season Two; still, she’s a badass character in her own right and plays a prominent role. I’m very optimistic to play the remaining three episodes of this title, and I hope that they address some of the long-standing fans’ concerns about their choices not mattering enough, and there not being enough connection to the previous two Seasons. As it stands, I greatly enjoyed the wild, emotional ride, and I give it my stamp of recommendation.