It’s no secret that I am in a love-hate relationship with The Walking Dead. If I have to be completely honest, I haven’t read the comics, nor watched the TV show, but I am so hooked on the game back from the very first season. And also it’s no secret that so far – season one, in my opinion, is the best, but I am feeling optimistic for the new frontier. If it’s one thing that gets me every time, it’s the moments of Clementine with Lee and how she remembers him. I got really attached to Lee and when the game slapped me across the face in episode 4’s ending, where he got bit, I knew what was coming and that I had a short amount of time left with him. And then the ending rekt me. There was no way in hell, anything could prepare me for that and to be honest, I complement the writers. Season 1 was a very impactful season and like I said so far is my favorite. The off-putting thing in Season 2 for me was the ending. I could not in any way find Jane likable and the choice at the end was not even a valid choice for me. I shot Kenny because I wanted to give him the release he was seeking so much, but I totally f*cked Jane off. I was downright pissed at her. To be fair, if I had to pick between Kenny and Luke, then it would have been a helluva lot harder choice. I remember in episode 2 or something, the game has a minor choice, where you get to pick whether to sit with Luke or Kenny. I was thinking about this more than the end game choice … nuff said.
Anyway, I am a fan of Telltale in general (the only one of their games I haven’t played – talking from the release of TWD:S1, is Game of Thrones and that is because, as many people would have probably wanted to kill me for it, I have not and am not watching the show, nor have I read the book). I was thrilled to finally get a Season 3 for this awesome game, because as I said, I am a huge fan of the first two seasons and with that said … okay I feel obliged to write this, since I may write something that may spoil stuff and definitely for when I talk about the plot so … SPOILER ALERT. I felt kind of disappointed that I don’t play as Clementine again. In truth the game opens up with a flashback from the past, with a family pre-zombie crap stuff happening. And that is when I got that I am playing as a new protagonist – Javier or Javi for short. Even if I was disappointed for not playing with Clementine, I am still glad that she plays a vital role to season 3. But I did take a liking to Javi, so ‘tis all good Telltale.
Anyways, let’s get a bit structured here. First of all, the game allows you to either start a fresh save, which I presume randomizes your choices (I didn’t do that, because I preferred to carry over. It also, which I believe is a cool feature, allows you to recreate the more important decisions from the previous seasons, thus creating a “save” of your own, even if you don’t have older saves present on your PC at the time. I think it’s a nice thing to be able to still pick your choices even if they are not with the utmost importance, I like to say that, as a fan to plot and details, it does make tailoring the story, feel a bit more realistically dependent on the player. So you pick your choices and off you go to starting the new adventure, faced in season 3. The only recurring character from past seasons is, of course, Clementine, who appears somewhere around the middle of Episode 1. Everyone else is a new face, including the family you start off with – Javi (the main character), Kate (his presumably dead brother’s wife – I say presuming, because the game didn’t specify what happened to him, I presumed that because what else can a person think in this apocalyptic world), Gabriel and Mariana (Javi’s nephew and niece, whose mother by the way is probably dead, since Kate is their stepmother). Anyway, they are mostly on the road with their van, but as with all seasons of TWD, the game doesn’t really take its time, before allowing s*it to hit the fan. Javi gets separated from his family and this is where we meet Clementine. Honestly, she has definitely gone a long way from season 1 and every time she is feeling down I can see that “I wish Lee was here” look on her face and trust me sweetie, I wish for that two. Clem’s past (the stuff that happened after season 2’s finale) are showcased via flashbacks in episode 1 and 2, up to some juicy revealing points, which I will cover, so do not forget about that spoiler alert earlier. Anyway, here it kind of varies, depending on how things ended and whether you left with Kenny, Jane or alone. I went with the alone option, but to be honest, when I found out how Kenny dies in season 3, I was glad I shot him back in season 2. And well, Jane can go f*ck herself – she didn’t deserve Luke’s sympathy … yes Telltale, I hate her, ok.
So we are reunited with Clem and off we go trying to get back to our family, who were left back at the junkyard, which we stopped at earlier to scavenge for supplies and mainly gas, cuz like I said we travel by van and that sh*t needs gas to run. I don’t want to spoil much about the plot, but ultimately we do reconnaissance with them and our niece Mari dies at the end of Episode 1. Telltale, please … I was just starting to take a liking to Mari. I do understand that we need to balance it out and ultimately, I also understand her death’s importance, because of how Episode 2 ended (more on that later). But I didn’t really liked to see her go … well every character I like dies so I am inclined to not like characters, just so they can stay alive as long as possible. But in the end everyone dies so, I’m not really surprised anymore.
Anyway, that’s how episode 1 ends and transitions into episode 2, where we had the choice of either going back to the sanctuary we had found earlier with Eleanor or Tripp (Prescott, I believe it was called), depending on our choices earlier (basically Clem and Javi went to this place, before trying to go back to the junkyard and a few f*ck ups happened, but they were still super nice people and helped us out – Tripp, I believe is the guy in charge, while Eleanor was a doctor and the game gave us a choice whether to leave with her earlier or go with him in the morning). So Episode 2 transitions right from where we left off in episode 1, which isn’t really surprising, because of the naming. Basically both episodes are titled “Ties that Bind” part 1 and 2, hence why I believe they were released together and why I am reviewing them together. So as I was saying we return to the sanctuary and basically realize that Kate is not doing so well (she got shot in episode 1, right after Mari, while trying to get to her) and surprise, surprise, but s*it is still hitting the fan and we get caught between the crossfire of two groups – basically the one we are staying with and “The New Frontier”. So far the frontier guys are the antagonists and they are pissed that we shot a couple of their guys and want revenge. Honestly, can I stop here for a second and reflect how stupid people are … seriously. You are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, walkers are … well walking everywhere trying to eat people and all you can think about is shooting other survivors … and this ladies and gentlemen is why we are gonna go extinct one day if this happens irl. Of course it doesn’t go well and the frontier guys destroy Prescott and we are forced to go on the run (by we, I mean Javi, Kate, Gabe, Clem, Tripp, Eleanor and Conrad, who is QQ-ing, cuz his wife got shot). We decide to head to a new place called Richmond, because Kate is getting worse and rumors go that they have a hospital there. Along the way Eleanor and Kate rush on to Richmond, because the horde caught up to us and we had to stop to move some cars away from the road, because they were in the way and also we meet Jesus (I have the perfect meme for this). Anyways, his real name is Paul, but everyone calls him Jesus, for well, obvious reasons. And to be fair, he shows very proficient later, so the saying “you don’t f*ck with Jesus” really does go a long way here. He tells us that Richmond is swarmed with the frontier guys and the group panics, trying to get to Kate and Eleanor, before more s*it splashes on that fan, but it does and Clem reveals to Javi that she was with the frontier before and Conrad overhears. Being the sad idiot he is, after his wife died, he wants to turn in Clem, but since I trust her to have had a good reasoning (her being with AJ and all, I really wonder what happened to AJ), I shot that mother*cker. He deserved it, ok!! Don’t judge me. He’s probably gonna die in episode 3 anyways, if you don’t so yeah. Anyhow, we reach Richmond, find Kate, who is probably on death’s door, considering how pale she is and without having much choice we surrender to the frontier guys, pleading for help, so that Kate doesn’t die (yeah I tried pulling the guilt trip on them). And then, now I really liked the ending for this episode, because I was totally not expecting such a turn to happen. The frontier guys leader comes out and oh you can’t even begin guessing who he is … mother*cking David … our own brother … goddamn it. Okay that was good. I like it, because it can be played out in so many ways, I actually can’t wait for the next episode and I hope it comes out soon. Remember Mari? Now you know why her death was important in episode 1’s ending.
Okay I can probs end the SPOILER section here, since I’m gonna head into gameplay now. As with all Telltale games (recently), TWD:S3 is full of wandering around, clicking on stuff and everyone’s favorite (including mine – that was sarcasm, btw) QTE. Nothing much has changed from previous seasons, including QTE, as usual we make use of directional keys (or W, A, S, D) and mashing Q+E or just pressing them for the actual events. Moving the actual pointer towards specific body parts or objects is goddamn as wonky as it will ever get. I have the feeling this is getting sloppier with every season, but I usually fail my QTE there, because the mouse pointer is so damn slow and maybe I am blind, but I didn’t find the sensitivity option in the settings menu. Also I feel like they have shortened QTE’s time-lapse, since before I had enough time for my slow turtle brain to react to what I actually had to press and now by the time I realize, I am already on the YOU ARE DEAD screen. But that is maybe my fault for sucking at QTE or my slow reaction and I’m not actually judging Telltale. This is something I feel like pointing out, I don’t know if it’s just me or because there are only 2 eps out, but I feel like season 3’s episodes are falling shorter in time than the previous two seasons (especially season 2 episodes, where I played 1 ep for like 2 hours). I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but that’s how I felt it, while playing through the game.
Unlike some games, where I can’t really blame them for doing this, because they have to stay cannon after all, in TWD choices have always mattered … to some extent at least and when that dreadful sign “*insert name here* will remember this” comes up, then you know that whatever you did or said will come back to you later, no matter if it has a small or big impact on story or just as flavor dialogue. I like that and honestly I know that there is only so much they can do when it comes to choices, but sometimes I feel like my choices don’t matter enough. I will give an example with Luke in season 2, or hell even Sarah again in season 2. No matter what choice I take, they died anyways. Or even no matter what choice I make, stuff will happen regardless and the only thing which changed was how others react to me. I still want to see choices matter even more in TWD and I’m not saying make 2 different games for choices, but still, you’re balancing on a dangerous like Telltale and you need just a little bit more to be on the safe side. So far in season 3 there haven’t really been any ground breaking decision changes and in episode 2 I saw that the majority of people were swinging one side, but overall I can’t complain about choices, considering other of their games. At least we can see and experience different reactions … most of the time.
Graphically, Telltale I gotta hand it to you. You do manage to keep that Telltale feel to your games, but still improve in terms of visually looking great. I remember how far they have gone from season 1 to season 3 in terms of backgrounds, character models and such and I can’t really complain to anything here. The models look so polished and outright fancy, but I love that they try to still keep that trademark look for their games, so that when I see something I can say immediately “yep, that is a Telltale game”.
As for sound, same here, I love the game’s sounds and the only complaint I might put is that I really liked the music playing on the titles of season 2 (I believe it was a different song for each episode) and I was kinda hoping for encountering this here as well. But also I like that fact that credits now play as we review our choices, contrary to previous seasons, where I had to sit awkwardly waiting for the credits to end, because no matter what key I had mashed, that s*it ain’t got skipping to it and don’t even think about minimizing the game, cuz that won’t help (credits are paused). At least I enjoyed the music (to this day my favorite is season 1 episode 5 credits song “Take us Back”).
Anyway, time for my conclusion. I love TWD as much as I hate it, for the emotional stuff it’s doing to me, but that’s how love-hate relationships go. Anyway, so far the game is living up to my expectations and given the fact that I can’t be easily surprised when it comes to plot, I am actually happy that they managed to pull that twist, without me expecting it to the very least (and I’m glad I wasn’t spoiled for it), so I can definitely say that season 3 is worth it, I recommend it and eagerly await for the next episode. So far I’m giving it an 8/10 and I can say this: Telltale, if you play your cards right, this season has potential to be amazing. You’ll need to try very hard to get to emotional level of season 1, but it’s not impossible. You know, I’m a simple person … I see Lee or memories of Lee I cri like a little girl in some corner, hugging my Teddy D: (pls include Lee memories again).
The Walking Dead – A New Frontier Review was Reviewed on the PC, the game is also available on the PS4 and Xbox One