Telltale Games has returned with the third season — and the fourth installment — of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series. Telltale released the first two episodes for A New Frontier at once this time and our “The Ties That Bind” review takes a look to see how the franchise still stands up.
Let’s take a quick look at the launch trailer for the game before we get started.
My favourite part of Telltale Series is the story contained within them. I’ve yet to play a Telltale Series where I haven’t enjoyed the story, and The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier is shaping up to be the same. There will be some spoilers below, but hopefully, they’re minor enough and just enough to give you an idea and overview of the first two episodes of the series.
While the past two The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series seasons focused on Clementine, A New Frontier starts out by introducing a new character to the franchise — Javier, or Javi for short. We get a brief glimpse into Javier’s past before the zombie outbreak in what is definitely an emotional beginning which starts to lay the foundation for a heavy emphasis on family for this season. If you’ve played the previous games or watched The Walking Dead, the first bit was somewhat predictable, but that didn’t make it any less emotional.
We then jump forward to the present where Javier finds himself travelling with Kate, his sister-in-law, and his nephew Gabe and niece Mariana — both are Kate’s stepchildren. That dynamic alone is the perfect stage for a dysfunctional family scenario with a teenager thrown into the mix. Without spoiling too much of the story, one thing leads to another and Javier eventually meets up with Clementine just when you’re starting to wonder when she’s going to show up. We then get a bit of a flashback into some of what happened to Clementine since we last saw her and let’s just say it hasn’t been easy goings.
You’d think George R. R. Martin wrote this episode because in typical The Walking Dead fashion there’s a pretty big WTF moment just before the end of “The Ties That Bind: Part 1” and your final choice of the episode. It was a pretty big shocking moment, and I can honestly say that I’m glad that Telltale released “The Ties That Bind: Part 2” at the same time because it would have been a long wait to find out what happened next.
The second episode in A New Frontier starts off with another Javier flashback and fleshes out more of the family ties between Javier and Kate before fast forwarding back to the present. Once in the present, it doesn’t take long before we find out why season three is called A New Frontier. Upon killing a zombie, Javier notices a mark on its neck and soon finds out that it’s a brand for members of a new group who calls themselves “A New Frontier.”
“The Ties That Bind: Part 2” seems a bit more action packed, and more members join Javier’s group as time goes on. Another Clementine flashback starts to unveil her previous dealings with A New Frontier, and back into the present we’re faced with even more twists and turns and even betrayals. The second episode ends up with another unexpected moment as the group meets the leader of A New Frontier.
While I enjoyed the previous two The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series seasons, the third season has definitely taken things up a notch and I find myself getting attached to the characters more easily than in the previous seasons.
The next episode can’t come soon enough to find out where the story goes and what happens next!
When you first start the game, you’ll be given the option to import your save from the previous season of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series or to quickly make a bunch of choices to set the stage. I’d obviously played before but for some reason, the game wouldn’t recognize the save file on my Xbox One. It was a quick workaround, though, I simply launched the second season game, then chose to upload the save file to the Telltale Games website and then switched back to A New Frontier and the save file synced from my online profile.
Where the first two The Walking Dead Telltale Series games were marred by occasional stuttering and audio issues, I didn’t encounter any such issues in the first two episodes of A New Frontier. Gameplay was smooth, and as in previous Telltale Series games, you’re presented with 4 different responses throughout the journey, as well as your typical QTE (quick time event) actions throughout.
As with most Telltale Series, I wish the play time was a bit longer, a play through of both episodes took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
As with the gameplay, the graphics seem better and smoother this go around. The game is still rendered in Telltale Games’ recognizable shaded comic style, but in A New Frontier, the shaders seem better giving it a fuller, more three-dimensional look over some of their previous Telltale Series game.
Of course, being a The Walking Dead game, there’s an ample amount of gore and blood when fighting the zombies and others throughout both episodes.
One thing that really helps a good story is the sound design. The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier has fantastic sound design, from the voice acting to sound effects and background music. The casting for the voice acting works quite well, and I played wearing a gaming headset and the sound effects and music was pretty much bang on and served to enhance the story at critical moments.
Telltale Games hasn’t missed a beat with the first two episodes of The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier. If you’ve played the previous two seasons, you’ll feel right at home. If not you can still jump in and not feel like you’re missing anything crucial. I’d still recommend playing the first two first though, not only for story continuation but to see how much better the game has gotten over time.
You can pick up the first two episodes for $4.99USD each on the Xbox One or $24.99USD for the season pass which includes episodes 1 through 5. The game is also available on the PlayStation 4, Steam, iOS, and Android devices.