The Walking Dead: A New Frontier: Episodes 1–3 Review
By Randy Mootooveran
Telltale Games’ episodic adventure series has received numerous accolades across the board. With the first season focusing on Lee trying to raise an eight-year-old girl named Clementine after the zombie apocalypse and the second focusing on Clementine several years later, gamers have formed a personal connection with these characters and making the choice of who lives, who dies, and what needs to be done to survive. We were all left in shock after the five endings of Season Two.
And in walks A New Frontier.
Right off the bat, fans have been confused about the absence of “Season Three” in the title. We’re introduced to Javier Garcia, a former baseball player looking after his brother David’s family: his wife Kate and his children Gabe and Mariana. It’s strange, especially for people who wanted to see the continuation of each possible story for Clementine after Season Two.
This is where A New Frontier hits its first error.
Later on, you do run into an older Clem, but you’re not given control of her and she basically tells you that all the choices you made in the previous seasons have been made irrelevant. It seems to me that Telltale wanted to start with a clean slate, what with a new protagonist and setting. However, I can see this as a point of contention for people who put a lot of time into the previous seasons. Throughout the episodes, Javier runs into trouble with the titular New Frontier and gets caught in another force trying to bring order to the ruins of civilization.
Gameplay is mostly the same as before; searching environments for puzzles and items, using quick time events for different situations, and having conversations with other survivors that can lead to optional experiences.
Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Honestly, the game is perfectly fine mechanically for anyone who’s played other episodic adventure games. It’s everything around it that problems emerge. Javier isn’t given much backstory or development for a while. Everyone around him feels like the typical zombie survivor: the tough leader trying to protect his community (Trip), the love interests that can both lead to complications (Kate and Eleanor, Trip’s former girlfriend), the wandering unshaven man (Jesus), etc. None of them are given much beyond that brief description (with the exception of Jesus), which makes it all the more difficult to relate to them when death comes into play. Javier has potential, but there isn’t a lot going on with him aside from his strained relationship with David. Out of them all, whom do we care about most?
Even without playing the other seasons, she still carries more depth and complexity than everyone around her combined. Every flashback segment we get of her taking care of AJ, the baby from Season Two, is simply more compelling than the main story of the usual Telltale one-dimensional villains. We understand how she wants to save just one person out of all the people she’s lost, and why she prefers to be on her own despite how cruel and unforgiving this world can be. The closest we get to something like that is Javier finding out h David is a leader of the New Frontier and has had a dark history with Clem. Episode 3 builds itself as the beginning of a climax for the next two episodes, and it does seem promising. However, it’s Clem’s story that peaks my interest. A New Frontier tries to break away from its roots, but Clementine’s story still carries the whole thing.