The wait is over and now we get to kick off the new season of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games. The first two seasons were such a blast and it was a huge pain having to sit and wait for the story and franchise to expand out more. We've all wanted to know what happened to Clementine and A.J. since the close of the second season over two years ago now. I've been wondering for a while how they were going to pick up things in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier from where it was all left off and now we are here. Here's our review of the first episode of the new season we are going to get to enjoy or hate.
It is years after the events of The Walking Dead's second season of games and we meet a new character, Javier Garcia. He's a disgraced former, I'm guessing, poker player who has his own set of issues that started up well before the first zombie bite occurred in the world. After surviving the initial outbreak with his brother's second wife and two kids, he and the family set out to do what everyone else in the world is doing; surviving. Sadly, he runs afoul of another group and things go sour fast as they always seem to do in The Walking Dead universe. Thankfully he has a new, badass sidekick to help him through it all in the way of Clementine.
I'm going to have to start this all off with one of the more upsetting things for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier and that is that we are not really continuing the story of Clementine. She is in the game and you do get to control her in very small sections of some flashback scenes but with all the focus on her character and fans getting ready to dive back in with her, it seems like a weird option to go with. More so when, at least so far, it looks like we are mostly ignoring the ending of the second season and skipping forward greatly; even in the flashbacks. This wouldn't have been much of an issue but Clementine is what fans wanted and seemed to get promised and then it's only a small section of it; at least so far.
While I get that giving us all kinds of options to handle events in games like The Walking Dead, what we were given here seemed to be more forced and less of an option. It was a bit more obfuscated in the mix of it all, but for the most part most of the choices we are presented in the game make almost no sense to make so we choose a specific path. It needs to be done sometimes or Telltale Games would never get their great story told but the elegance we've seen in the past when it comes to options seem to be set down so that we can get through this episode and all the set up. Even if it leads to a fun and jaw-dropping experience it all feels a little heavy-handed from the start.
I was one of those in the boat hoping to get to play The Walking Dead: A New Frontier and to continue the story of Clementine and I was let down that wasn't the case. But once you realize the game and story isn't 100% about her and you have a whole new set of characters to learn about, love, and hate then you can see that it is off to a great start. The episode even made me love and hate specific characters in the story in such a short time that I'm almost certain I was emotionally connected to a good chunk of them before the middle of the episode. Even leading to similar reactions that The Walking Dead TV show has only able to get from me after years of investment; only here it took about thirty minutes and I was locked in. Just how good storytelling should be.
Building from all of that, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has already started off to be one of the darkest and bleakest seasons of any of the other Telltale titles out there. Be it because they have been able to build some great characters and development from the start or this is generally how it goes in the universe, this looks to be the season that will inspire many emotional reactions. At least so far. Of course this could be ruined by getting into the rhythm of the same formula but the deviation from what we've seen out of the other stories they've told in The Walking Dead universe is a great change up and could keep us all on our toes. Just the change up needed even if you can't imagine their version of the franchise getting darker.
If you don't go into The Walking Dead: A New Frontier thinking you are going to be playing Clementine from the start and only getting some small flashbacks, then this season should be for you as well. This isn't the Clementine story but that doesn't mean that it hasn't already started off at a great place. Even when things feel a bit forced through the options or places you are put, that doesn't meant that Telltale hasn't started another great thing. Of course there is still time for this to change and fall flat but so far The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is in a good place. As long as you go in knowing that this hasn't been a solid jump off from the last season and the characters you've already invested in.
I give The Walking Dead: A New Frontier — Ties That Bind Part I 2 Missing Batteries on the Missing Battery scale.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier — Ties That Bind
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier — Ties That Bind Part I was developed by Telltale Games. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier — Ties That Bind Part I was published by Telltale Games for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on December 20th 2016. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.