The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is the latest in the Telltale Games’ lineup. Developed and published by Telltale Games, it was released on December 21st, 2016, and is the third season in The Walking Dead Telltale series.
Continuing the habit of taking on the role of a new character each season, players now take on the role of Javier, or Javi, a man striving to survive the zombie apocalypse with his family. As usual in any zombie apocalypse, the fan gets hit and Javier gets into a whole lot of trouble. Caught in amongst this trouble is Clementine, the protagonist from the second series and main character from the first. Javier and Clementine team up in order to overcome the challenges thrown at them.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier starts off by giving us a character we have not yet seen in the games or the television series for that matter. The game opens up with a small section set just before the zombie outbreak and shows Javier and his family mourning the loss of his father. This was a great way to start off the game, as the loss of their father causes all of the family members to show what they really feel and gives us a great look into each character’s emotions and personalities. Again, the fan comes under fire and you are sent forward to the present day where Javier is with the surviving members of his family, on the run from a huge zombie swarm.
The game is definitely one of the best looking so far in the Telltale Games’ line-up, only possibly equalled by Batman. Everything looks sharper, more colourful and even the on-screen button prompts have had a bit of a redesign. They don’t look as flat and boring as they once did, and they even have a little flair to them when pressed. If fighting a zombie, and you get an on-screen button prompt, when the button is hit it will look pressed in and receive a splatter of blood on it. It is not a huge thing to notice, but it somehow just makes it more satisfying seeing those little splashes of red hit the button when you do. The audio and voice acting are on point as Telltale is known for. No huge names in voice-acting, but that doesn’t matter, as always the emotion and effort put into each and every character really make you feel for all of the characters and what they are going through.
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The game occasionally flashes back in time, to before the zombie outbreak, again amongst Javier and his family. They don’t last long and serve the scene afterwards, as the flashback usually leads into a certain issue, such as two characters having a dispute or some other sort of conversation. There is occasionally a different sort of flashback as well, ones with Clementine as the playable character. During the game, Clementine may seem emotional or distracted by something, and that is when we get to see her flashbacks. The end of season two had Clementine and another character finding refuge and making one last choice, to either allow a family into their safe place or send them away. The flashbacks lead on from there, allowing us to see what exactly happened to Clementine in between the end of the second season and the start of the third. Clementine is definitely one of the best characters the series has ever had, showing her not only age, but also grow as a person and change into a stone-cold survivor, and that kind of character development is something we all love seeing in these games, it reminds us a lot of Carol from the television series.
The choices in the game seem like they carry a lot more weight this time around, not simply there to give us a slightly different version, which has been a major complaint in the games before. It will be interesting to see how these choices develop in the coming episodes, and whether or not they will have a big impact or practically be forgotten. Telltale Games have two main choice styles, dialogue and action. A lot of the time when having a conversation with someone, you get to choose a number of different things to say, and only occasionally does it do the classic “This person will remember that“. This seems to have made a difference over the course of the first two episodes, but it will be interesting to see if they remember them all the way through the series and how it dictates the progression.
There are a few issues prevalent in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, and they are with the performance. There is, occasionally, some frame rate drop which makes it hard to see what is going on sometimes, especially with the cartoony style of the game. When the scenes transition from one to another, they occasionally freeze the display, yet the game continues on, so you will be chucked into the scene a few seconds after it has started. Generally, not much has happened by then, but if you are in an action scene, you had better be ready as soon as it kicks in. The last issue we found was with the lip syncing, it was generally pretty damn good, but sometimes it went out of sync. It could have been an issue with the frame-rate drops or wonky scene transitions, and then the audio and display getting out of sync with each other, we only hope that issues like this are fixed in future patches and with the next episode.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is out now on PC, XB1 and PS4 with the first two episodes available already. Each season manages to bring something new to the series, and even though the second had players taking control of Clementine, it still seemed to drag on. The New Frontier starts off strong and brings a breath of fresh air to Telltale Games’ zombie series, and we look forward to seeing what the next episodes have to offer. Hopefully, they have fixed the frame-rate, scene transition and lip syncing issues by then as well.
BLOT Gaming was provided with a copy of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier for review purposes. This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, experience may differ on other platforms.
All images courtesy of Telltale Games.