Hot of the heels of one of Telltale Games most ambitious projects to date in Batman a Telltale series. The team are back with arguably Telltale Games most successful story telling IP in the form of the Walking Dead. This time Telltale are starting with a bang and are getting season 3 of the Walking Dead of to a flyer with a double episode. Here is our The Walking Dead: A New Frontier “The Ties that Bind Parts 1 & 2” Review
Whatever your experience to date with the Telltale walking dead series both newcomers and experienced players are going to feel right at home. Not only is the setting and characters fresh for A new frontier but the players are given choices ahead of starting any potential new playthrough. In a new twist players can now choose previous choices from the previous games in the series or sync their choices via Telltale’s servers. This approach delivers a positive step in keeping the community fresh and welcoming to newcomers. This is the route I opted to play on my first run. I was presented with a series of choices backed up with story narration and then allowed to proceed into the game, already I had that feeling of is that what everyone else did the past few years?
What I wasn’t prepared for was how powerful these decisions would be to even the first two episodes of this game. No longer a linear story The Walking Dead: A new frontier extends its story telling approach from the present to the past. All the more important to get the newcomer welcome mat brushed off from the get go. Across numerous playthroughs for the first time in the series I was seeing real significant choices have ramifications. The let’s play of the first episode you can view below for example is a testament to that. A new frontier introduces flashbacks allowing you to explore the periods between the Walking Dead season 2 and The walking dead: A new frontier. What was Clementine up to and how did she get to here. What was so different this time round was that on each of my playthroughs these were different.
It was these flashbacks that had me echoing to my wife how harrowing a feeling the scene was and how I couldn’t believe the moves the developers were making. Being a fairly new dad it all hit home a bit. However, when my wife went to have her playthrough syncing her previous series choices her flashback was hugely different but non the less emotional as impactful in different ways.
Aside from the story differences you would expect in any telltale game episodes 1 & 2 of a new frontier are incredibly well paced and offer up that great balance of character building, puzzle solving and action. However the puzzle solving is really pretty weak. However in the calmer moments the ability to walk around in 3rd person is a welcome return and something the series strayed away from in recent times.
As usual the game is hinged on its incredible ability to tell not just stories but make you care for characters a mistake we all only make too often with the Walking Dead series. The Walking Dead: A new frontier introduces players to several new characters and a new playable one.
You don’t play as Clementine which was the approach taken in Series 2 of the Walking Dead. However, the flashbacks do offer up control of here in terms of movement and narration choices. The main character is Javier Garcia brand new to the series and is other brother who plays a key role will both be familiar voices to players of Mafia 3 which in itself has a stellar story so again Telltale have freshened up the cast with real quality. On this note you’ll likely spot some returning voices that have graced nearly all Telltale games in recent memory. The tension and dynamics between these new characters and the Garcia family are really intriguing and right from the opening scene in Episode 1 The Ties that Bind we learn enough about the families situation and relationships to know that this is a bunch of characters I am going to get invested in.
Gameplay wise the series isn’t offering up anything new and really why should they fix what isn’t broken? Well for the same reason they don’t fix what is broken. Odd statement but although the mechanics work they are starting to feel a bit too familiar, its too obvious when dialogue boxes will pop up, when action prompts will demand your attention and when those puzzle segments appear all too linear but this is what fans of the series enjoy and for people like my wife it makes the games accessible. A change may be too much for someone who isn’t anything more than a casual gamer.
So what should be fixed? Well the artsyle has always had that Telltale feel and The walking Dead: A new frontier has had a fresh lick of paint and looks fantastic as some screenshots will testify. What still isn’t too great is the load times and poor framerates. It’s almost comical now how predictable a frame rate drop is before an action prompt appears on screen. It’s at its worst during combat events. This is something I experienced on both PS4 and Xbox One. So it’s not a power issue that’s holding it back it’s the same old engine that despite a lick of paint it’s not smoothing over the cracks enough.
With that being said these issues didn’t take away from what was an extremely enjoyable 2 hours of story driven gameplay. Each episode is around the hour mark and the short nature of them is certainly not worth a standalone £4.99 but getting these two for one is great value and for fans new and old this series is going to draw you in.
This review was undertaken with a review code supplied for Xbox One by Telltale Games.